Desert collared lizard, Crotaphytus collaris, care sheet
The Desert Collared Lizard is a ground-dwelling lizard found in arid, rocky grassland and desert habitats across North America. They are distinguished by the two black collars around their neck and have bright orange patches as well as tan, brown and yellow colours along the body and tail. Although extremely active and a joy to watch, they are somewhat skittish and difficult to handle.
The Desert Collared Lizard is diurnal but very active, jumping, digging and moving freely around the vivarium, so a good-sized stimulating environment is important. A minimum vivarium size of 4 x 2 x 2ft should be used to house a single adult, to enable proper movement as well as thermo-regulation and exercise.
For the base of the environment, we recommend a sand mix such as Pro Rep’s Leo Life or Lucky Reptiles Desert Bedding. Your Collared Lizard will not be inclined to eat this substrate as long as the temperature, UVB and supplements are correct. These lizards are typically found in rocky, arid habitats, so a sandy substrate is also more natural.
The enclosure should be built up with a range of enrichment pieces such as branches, rocks, tunnels, logs and foliage as well as a minimum of two hiding places like caves - though more is recommended. Ensure that there are hiding spots and decor on both the hot and cool sides of your enclosure so your lizard can make use of the whole tank and feel secure. For an even more stimulating habitat that encourages good mental and physical activity try moving decor around every now and then.
Heating and lighting
Being a reptile, you Collared Lizard will not be able to regulate their internal temperatures without an external source so good quality heating, as well as lighting, is vital. Firstly a hot end of 38-42C is needed, alongside a cooler end of around 28C, and including a drop to around 15C overnight to replicate a natural nighttime drop. This can be achieved best with the use of a basking bulb or ceramic bulb, which will need to be controlled with a thermostat. Not all thermostats will reach such a temperature so its important that you check this before purchase. A good example is Microclimate’s Evo Lite. All temperatures can be monitored with an accurate digital thermometer.
Your Collared Lizard will always naturally be exposed to UVB and this is an essential part of equipment in keeping them healthy. As well as boosting their immune systems and overall wellness, UVB is responsible for metabolising key nutrients such as calcium, so being deprived of this can have serious health risks and even prove fatal. You will need a strip UV lighting system such as Arcadia’s 12% T5 unit, though the strength of the bulb will depend on the height of the enclosure. This bulb will be used in a 12-hour cycle, going off at night as the temperatures drop to create good day and night periods. It is important to take note that any UVB has a lifespan of 6 - 12 months depending on the bulb - after which, the bulb may still glow but there will be no UV being emitted so it will need changing.
Collared Lizards prefer a humidity of between 40 - 50%, which should easily be reached with little help. The use of moss hides particularly on the cooler side of the tank will provide good opportunity for ease of shedding. Moss can be used in this hide and sprayed to keep moist. The humidity can be read with an accurate digital hygrometer. A small water dish will also need to be placed in the enclosure and cleaned on a regular basis to prevent bacterial build-up.
Your Collared Lizard is an insectivore and so will feed on a good variety of crickets, locusts, cockroaches, Calci-worms and mealworms. Variety is key in providing your lizard with good nutrition as all prey items differ in nutritional value. You will also need to dust the live food with additional calcium, multi-vitamins and D3 in the relevant feeding rota to ensure your lizard gets from its diet everything needed of the body. It is recommended also that live food be 'gut loaded' before being fed to the animal to make them an even better quality meal.
Swell SuperStore Desert Collared Lizard Species Profile:
- Scientific name - Crotaphytus collaris
- Adult Expected Size - 10 - 12 inches
- Habitat - Arid, rocky grasslands and desert habitats of North America. Terrestrial living.
- Required Enclosure Size - 4 x 2 x 2ft
- UV Lighting - 3 - 4 UVI (T5 12% - enclosure height dependent)
- Expected Lifespan - 7 - 10 Years
- Temperature Gradient - 28C - 42C
- Humidity Levels - 40 - 50%
- Feeding - Live food - Crickets, locust, Calci-worms and mealworms
- Handling - They are skittish, prone to bite if threatened and can be difficult to handle.