Resource Center Menu
Arid Lizard

Arid Lizard

includes bearded dragons, steppe runners, curlytails, frilled lizards, armadillos, African plated, agamas and uromastyx lizards

Arid lizards include several species originating from dry, hot environments.

Arid Lizard

Arid Lizard Facts

Average Adult Size 4 to 36 inches long, depending on species
Average Life Span 15+ years with proper care
Diet herbivore or omnivore, depending on species

Will reach adult size in 1 to 3 years, depending on species and under ideal conditions; upgrade habitat size as your reptile grows.

Diet

A well-balanced arid lizard diet consists of:

  • Depending on species, may require a mix of 30% veggies and 70% gut-loaded (recently fed) insects such as crickets, mealworms, roaches and waxworms.
  • Some species may be herbivores, which only eat vegetables and fruits; others may require frozen, thawed rodents. See the Feeding Frozen/Thawed Foods Care Sheet for more information.

Feeding

Things to remember when feeding your lizard:

  • Fresh, clean, chlorine-free water should be available at all times; may not drink from a bowl but relies on moisture on décor.
  • Feed daily.
  • Sprinkle food with calcium supplement daily and a multi-vitamin supplement once or twice a week.
  • Vegetables and fruits not eaten within 24 hours should be discarded.

Housing

  • Size - appropriately size and shape habitat for an adult lizard to accommodate normal behaviors and exercise. Due to the varied sizes and growth rates of arid lizards and their individualized needs, we recommend you consult a book on the species to determine its specific housing requirements.
  • Habitat - provide a hiding area; branches for basking. Use an under-tank heater at one end of the tank. Maintain less than 50% humidity by misting as needed.
  • Substrate - calcium-based sand is recommended. Terrarium-carpet is also recommended as an alternative substrate.
  • Temperature - temperature gradient (95-100°F for the warm end and 70-75°F for the cool end). Use an incandescent light or ceramic heater as primary heat source.
  • Lighting - UVB rays with full spectrum lighting for 10-12 hours a day is required. An incandescent day bulb can be used for basking area during daylight hours only; can use a ceramic heater or black heat bulb at all hours.
  • Do not house different reptile species together.

Normal Behavior

  • All arid lizards will spend part of the day in a hiding spot in their habitat.
  • Male arid lizards are territorial and should be housed separately.
  • Never grab a lizard by its tail as they may drop their tail.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat at least once a week: place lizard in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all traces of bleach smell; dry the tank and furnishings completely and add clean substrate.

Grooming & Hygiene

  • Arid lizards regularly shed their skin; ensure humidity of habitat is at appropriate level to allow proper shedding. To facilitate shedding, bathe in a large container that allows the lizard to immerse its entire body or provide a shed box, a hide box with sphagnum moss, that will aid in the shedding process.

Health

Signs of a Healthy Animal

  • Active, alert, and interested in humans
  • Clear eyes
  • Body and tail are filled out
  • Healthy skin
  • Clear nose and vent
  • Eats regularly

Red Flags

  • weight loss or decreased appetite
  • mucus in mouth or nose
  • swelling
  • lethargic
  • bumps, sores, or abrasions on skin
  • labored breathing
  • paralysis of limbs
  • abnormal feces
  • retained shed

If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Gastro-intestinal disease Symptoms or Causes Runny stools, caked or smeared stool around the vent area and loss of appetite caused by bacterial or parasitic infection. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian.
Health Issue Metabolic bone/vitamin deficiency Symptoms or Causes Inability to absorb calcium due to insufficient UVB light, or not being provided the proper amount of calcium/vitamin D supplements. If untreated, can lead to a disorder characterized by deformities and softened bones. Swollen limbs and lethargy. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian and provide ample UVB lighting and proper calcium/vitamin supplements.
Health Issue Respiratory disease Symptoms or Causes Labored breathing and mucus in the mouth or nose. Can be caused by a habitat that is too cold or damp. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian and ensure habitat is the proper temperature.

Sources

Ask an associate about Petco's selection of books on arid lizards and the variety of private brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider not having a reptile as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about Lizards and disease.

This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.

Note: The information in this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.