How To Take Care Of A Lizard (Easy Step-By-Step Guide)

Have you just rescued a lizard from outside or picked one up from the pet shop? Then you can be sure lots of fun is on the horizon, as lizards are awesome pets.

But what if you don’t know how to take care of a lizard?

In this article, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to looking after your new lizards. Check it out!

Key Takeaway:

To take care of a pet lizard, you need to:

  1. Put him in the right enclosure
  2. Equip it with everything he needs
  3. Keep the enclosure clean
  4. Give him the right food
  5. Feed him regularly

There’s a lot you need to do to make sure your new lizard is happy and healthy in his home. Check out the 5-step care guide below for the best tips on looking after him.

pet lizard

How to Take Care of a Lizard (5 Steps)


You are officially the proud new parent of an exotic pet lizard. No matter whether you rescued him from the wild or picked him up from your local pet shop, you’ll be keen to make this little guy feel at home in his new environment.

Each type of lizard has slightly different needs that you must tend to. But coming up in this guide, we’ll show you instructions that will help you look after any species of lizard, from desert lizards to iguanas, chameleons, and the like.

#1 Choose the Right Cage For Your Pet lizard

So you’ve just picked up your pet lizard and are keen to make him feel as cozy as possible in his new home.

Now, the first thing you need to kit him out with is a swanky new pad. But what if your local pet store only sells cages for run-of-the-mill pets like rabbits and guinea pigs?

What kind of cage will be suitable for your cold-blooded new lizard?

The right enclosure will mimic your lizard’s natural habitat as best it can. Here are some of the requirements for the plushest lizard cage.

  • The enclosure must be tall enough for the lizard to climb. For some lizards, like Bearded Dragons, the cage will need to be tall enough to accommodate a perch.
  • It must be long enough for it to move around freely.Select the largest tank you have space for. A 20-gallon tank will provide ample space for most lizards.
  • A glass aquarium with a mesh top is best for meeting the humidity requirements of a few species of lizards
  • A complete mesh enclosure is best for other types of lizards that need more ventilation, such as chameleons
  • You must fix the mesh top well to ensure the lizard cannot escape

#2 Put Everything He Needs In the Cage

None of us like feeling bored. That’s why we kit out our homes with things that will keep us entertained.

Your pet reptiles are the same; they will love a tank full of interesting things to look at and hide between.

Lizards are fascinating pets that need very special care to feel at home in their new tank. So, make sure it contains everything he needs to mimic the habitat he was used to.

So, what needs to go inside your lizard’s cage?

Here are some of the things your scaly friend cannot live without.

  • A heat lamp. Your lizard’s specific temperature requirements will vary depending on his particular species. But as a general rule of thumb, aim to keep the cage at a minimum of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It should also have an area for your lizard to bask at a temperature of around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Yep, your lizard definitely likes a toasty warm home!
  • Pieces of bark and hiding places. Leopard geckos and anoles in the wild like to hide when they sense danger. Your exotic pets’ cage needs to contain hiding places for them to take cover when they feel threatened. These can include hiding boxes and large pieces of bark.
  • A perch. Many lizards, like Bearded dragons, enjoy hanging out on a perch. Make sure your tank contains one. Anchor the perch to the cage, so it doesn’t move. Cactus plants, cork bark, and other living plants make good accessories for some lizards. Make sure the potting soil in your plants is free from fertilizer.
  • Fresh water. Your lizard pets need access to clean water every day. Put this in a water dish, bubbler bowl, or drip bottle, depending on the specific needs of your pet.
  • The right flooring. If you have small lizards, line their enclosure with paper towels. Medium-sized or large lizards will need newspaper, gravel, plain mulch, or compacted pellets at the base of their cage. Some reptiles, like the Western fence lizard like to dig and bury themselves when they sleep, so they’ll need plenty of mulch flooring. Peat moss is also great for landscaping.
  • Food. Your pet lizard needs the right diet. (More about what your lizard should be eating in just a mo).
pet lizard enclosure

#3 Keep the Cage Clean

To give your lizard the proper care he needs, his living quarters need to be clean. This is a piece of cake, as lizards are pretty easy to clean up after.

How often should you clean your lizard’s cage?

If you smell feces or if the cage smells musty, it is a good indication that it is time to clean it. Give your cage a partial clean when necessary but ensure you completely replace the substrate at least once a month.

How should you clean the cage?

Here are all the steps you need to follow for a squeaky-clean lizard enclosure.

  1. Remove the water dish, hiding places, and substrate from the enclosure
  2. Mist a commercial cage cleaner onto the floor and walls of the tank and wipe it over with a cleaning cloth
  3. Dry the cage thoroughly
  4. Line the base with your chosen substrate and return the hiding spots to the enclosure
  5. Rinse the water dish and put it back in the cage

It is important to remember that most types of lizards and many reptiles carry salmonella. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling them or cleaning out their enclosures.

#4 Give Your Particular Lizard the Right Food

Not all lizards eat the same food. Herbivorous lizards will not eat insects or meat. Fruit and vegetables will not be in the diet of some carnivorous lizard species.

The kind of grub you will give your pet to tuck into will depend on his species. But most lizards need supplemental nutrients in their diet.

Give your lizards calcium, vitamin D3, and multivitamins. Feeding him calcium powder will lower his chances of developing metabolic bone disease and other illnesses.

How often you need to give them nutrients will depend on what kind of lizard species you have.

Never feed him fireflies. These are toxic to lizards.

Here is the best menu for a Bearded dragon:

  • Fresh, live insects like mealworms and crickets from the pet shop (these will not contain insecticides and will be gut-loaded)
  • Vegetables like romaine lettuce, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits like bananas, apples, and pears

This is the food most suitable for a leopard gecko. They are carnivorous and will not eat fruits or vegetables.

  • Fresh, live insects like mealworms and crickets from the pet shop (these will not contain insecticides and will be gut-loaded)

A Blue tongued skink lizard will enjoy the following goodies:

  • Fresh insects that are alive, like mealworms, crickets, snails, and slugs from the pet shop (these will not contain insecticides and will be gut-loaded)
  • Vegetables like leafy greens, carrots, parsley, and tomatoes
  • Fruits like bananas, apples, and pears

Iguanas like to chow down on these tasty morsels:

  • Dark green leafy veg as well as orange, yellow, and red veggies that are high in calcium
  • Fruits

#5 How Often Lizards Eat

Ok, so we’ve put together the most scrumptious menu for your lizard friend. But how often should you feed him it?

Lizards require feeding regularly but in small doses.

Key Takeaway:

Lizards tend to eat more while the weather is warmer than they will while it’s cold. Feed your reptile pets every 2 days when the weather is warm and every 3 days when it is cooler.

You must monitor lizards while they are eating and remove any uneaten food, especially live prey from their cages when they have finished. This is so that the crickets and other insects do not begin to chew on the lizard.

A baby iguana will need feeding every day, while an adult will only need feeding every day or every other day.

feeding bearded dragon

How to Take Care of Pet Lizard You Found Outside

Have you rescued a wild lizard you found outside?

Identify Your Lizard

The first thing you need to do when you pick up a lizard from outside is to identify it. That way, you’ll be able to find out what to feed him and what kind of enclosure he should be in.

Adopting a lizard is a long-term commitment as they have a life span of 20 to 50 years!

Put Him in the Right Enclosure

If you have just adopted a lizard, remember he has traded the spacious outside world for life indoors. So, you’ve got to make sure his new home mimics his old one as best as possible.

Different types of lizards need specialized care. Here are some examples of how their needs can vary.

  • A Bearded dragon will need a tank that is tall and wide as they like to run and climb
  • A Green anole will need a mesh enclosure so he can get enough ventilation
  • A leopard gecko needs plenty of hiding places

Although there are a lot of specifics to consider when it comes to picking an enclosure for these animals, some of the criteria stay the same. Your enclosure needs to have a UVB light, hiding places, a water holder, and the right flooring.

Feed Him the Right Food

Every species of lizard has a slightly different diet. Some lizards are herbivores, while other lizards are carnivores.

Many species of lizards need to consume live food so they can practice hunting. Live animals also contain more of the nutrients they need.

You will need to feed him every two days while the weather is warm and every three days when the weather is cooler.

Clean His Tank

If you smell feces or if the enclosure smells musty, it is time to clean it. Give your tank a partial clean when necessary but ensure you completely replace the substrate at least once a month.

Pet Lizards For Beginners

Whether you’ve rescued your pet reptiles from your backyard or found them at the pet shop, this article has helped you to see exactly what you need to look after them. That includes putting them in the right enclosure, cleaning it regularly, and consistently feeding them a healthy diet.

Did you find the tips in this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we love putting together the best guides that will help you look after your lizards and other reptile pets. So, for advice on taking care of other reptiles and great pets, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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