Keeping Reptiles Newsletter
  Issue 3 Vol 5 March 2010
What Lizard Is Right For You? Things to Consider When Deciding - Part 2 In this Issue

pet lizardOnce you’ve determined your pet owner requirements, it’s time to look at some lizards that will fit your needs. Here is a breakdown of what lizards work for different owner needs.

Space Requirements

Here are some popular lizards, the approximate size they will grow to and an average size habitat they’ll require.

  • Green anoles
    • Grow to 6-8 inches
    • Require only a 10 gallon container for their habitat
  • Gecko
    • Average length is 10 inches
    • Can generally be housed in a 10 gallon aquarium
  • Bearded dragon
    • Grow to approximately 18-24 inches
    • Eventually require a 50 gallon aquarium
  • Chameleon
    • Grow up to 24 inches, though there is a wide variety of chameleons which grow to different lenghts
    • Require an enclosure at least 3 feet by 3 feet
  • Iguana
    • Average length can be up to 6 feet
    • Require an enclosure at least 6 feet tall and at least half as wide as the iguana is long


Here is a breakdown of some common lizards and what amount of handling is preferable.

  • Green anoles
    • Should not be held - they don’t enjoy it
    • They lose their tails easily
  • Chameleons
    • Better off just observed
    • They prefer to be left alone and are easily stressed if handled
  • Crested gecko
    • Can be handled, but it’s preferable to simply observe this lizard
    • Their tails break off easily and they are easily stressed
    • They are gentle, but unpredictable and can jump and scurry away very quickly and be incredibly difficult to locate
  • Leopard gecko
    • Friendly and easy to hold if tamed from a young age
    • Seem to almost recognize owners and will climb on your hand if trained to do so with food
  • Bearded dragon
    • One of the most social lizards
    • Tame and gentle, they enjoy handling and interaction
  • Iguana
    • Generally gentle and social, as long as they are properly handled and tamed starting when they are young
    • Thrive on attention and interaction
    • Requires proper handling techniques due to size, but consistency is essential


Always a primary consideration when committing to be an owner and caretaker of any pet, this is also true of lizard ownership. It’s difficult to be specific about what any lizard will cost. Each owner is different in their desire for simple or elaborate habitats. What should be kept in mind is that the larger the lizard, the larger the habitat required, and the larger the habitat, the more expense involved. Visit a local supply store that specializes in reptiles to get an idea about what you can find in your area at what price that will properly house the type of lizard you want.

Taking a look at space requirements, cost and lizard handling preferences is a great way to help you determine the right lizard for you. Once you match up your personality to that of a lizard, you’re on your way to a wonderful and rewarding experience as a lizard owner!


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  1. What Lizard Is Right For You? Things to Consider When Deciding - Part 2
  2. Human Impact on Reptile Populations around the World - Part 2
  3. Feature Video
  4. In the News
  5. Get Paid to write an article
  6. Tell Us What You Think
  7. Feedback and Updating

Other Issues

Other Articles & Resources

Human Impact on Reptile Populations around the World - Part 2


endangered Phillipines Panang m

Human Impacts on Habitat

There are a few prominent ways that humans directly and indirectly affect reptile habitats in the wild. First and most obvious is human development, in its many different forms, taking over the space that reptiles once called home. This development runs the gamut from urban sprawl and the building out of massive subdivisions in what was once open land to creating tourist attractions out of wilderness area. It also includes things such as logging, which clears that land and rids it of its native animal dwellers, agricultural development, and the completion of infrastructure such as highways and road ways, that connect the newly developed areas with each other.

In addition to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation is another issue affecting reptile populations. When roadways, golf courses, shopping malls and subdivisions are built in what was once an open space, they affect reptiles’ ability to migrate and effectively use the space.

Another factor affecting reptiles that is quite common but not often considered is the indirect impact humans create through pollution of the air, rivers, oceans and groundwater. Pesticides, road salt, discarded chemicals and cleaning solutions, and waste from factories and energy plants all affect the water and soil. This pollution spreads far beyond the borders of inhabited areas and creates chemical contamination that impacts the fragile systems of various reptiles. Not only can these pollutants poison the reptiles living in the contaminated areas, but they can also alter hormones and breeding which can greatly affect future generations and their ability to live and thrive.

Climate Change

Whether you believe in Global Warming or not, it’s a fact that there have been changes to climates in areas around the globe. These changes have impacted, and sometimes endangered, many species. Reptiles are not exempt from these changes. Though they have managed to survive for over 350 million years, there has been a measurable decline in populations world-wide over the last twenty years. When even slight climate changes can impact these amazing creatures, it’s to be expected that their numbers would be affected.

Looking at how climate change affects reptiles is important for many reasons. First it helps us to better preserve species of reptiles in various environments. But it also serves us by giving us an indicator about how healthy the earth’s environment is. Since reptiles are part of a larger, global community and part of the food web, their health is necessary for a balanced global ecosystem. Not only do they provide food for their predators who hunt not only the reptiles themselves, but their eggs and larvae also provide food for birds and fish. In turn they eat an enormous number of insects which helps to balance that part of the food web.

Temperature changes are a big factor for lizards, which rely on the surrounding temperatures to regulate their own body temperature. Researchers have discovered that tropical lizards are more sensitive to global warming than their cooler counterparts that live in colder, and more variable, climates. This is thought to be because tropical climates have a narrower temperature range. Because of this, tropical lizards have adapted to perform best at both the coolest and warmest parts of the day, and this is because those temperature variations are much slighter than in places with more varied climate. With temperatures gradually climbing in parts all over the world, an increase of just 5°F, over the course of the next century, could be enough to endanger lizards that are not adaptable to that amount of temperature change. In addition, lizards that can adapt will move into foreign habitats creating competition for native reptiles that they have never previously experienced, also putting them at risk.

Another concern with climate change is the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer. With this comes the problem of more ultraviolet radiation exposure in certain areas which is dangerous to reptiles as well as killing their eggs.

With a warmer climate, ponds and wetlands have begun to grow smaller and even dry up. Eggs and larvae cannot develop without water and moist environments. This affects some reptile populations as well as amphibians that rely on these wet areas for breeding.

With any of these global climate factors comes the risk of extinction of different species of reptiles. While it may seem that this only endangers the particular species that is threatened, it actually has a much broader reach. As one population of species becomes extinct it threatens other populations by limiting or ceasing migration which then risks increased inbreeding which in turn puts the species’ genetic variability in jeopardy and makes them more vulnerable and less adaptive to environmental changes.

Humans and climate change are huge factors in the survival of many wild species, including reptiles. What we have done so far cannot be undone, but there are ways to stop forward momentum and to decrease the risk of endangering these amazing creatures. There are many task forces and conservation groups working to understand human and climate change impacts on reptile populations and to preserve the species before they are extinct.



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Feature Video

Ball Python Laying Eggs

If you have a favourite video, let us know and we'll feature it.

In the News

Co-existence of pterosaurs and birds?

Lock up your goats

Florida's wild life cools down

And gets a shot in the arm

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