What Do Green Iguanas Eat?

If you’re considering purchasing one of these majestic beasts, you’ve no doubt asked yourself, “What do Green iguanas eat?” Despite their large size at maturity, green iguanas (Iguana iguana) continue to be one of the most popular pet lizards amongst reptile enthusiasts.

Perhaps it’s due to their prehistoric appearance – spikes down their back, dewlaps at their throat, and impressive claws – or maybe it’s because they have such prominent personalities.

If you are considering a pet iguana, one of the most valuable pieces of information you’ll need, aside from housing requirements, is what to feed your pet. In this article, we will discuss in detail what we feed our green iguanas and how you can make sure your iguanas nutritional needs are met.

what do green iguanas eat
Hatchling green iguanas are a bit more insecure than their adult counterparts, but they still make excellent pets.

What do green iguanas eat?

Green iguanas are classified as herbivores, although when it comes down to it, they are opportunistic omnivores and will consume anything they find appetizing. They have been observed in the wild as well as in captivity eating protein in the form of smaller lizards and insects.

In the wild, green iguanas will seek out vegetation such as flowers, leaves, and some fruit. If they happen to chance upon a tasty invertebrate or even small vertebrate like a rodent, they will also consume meat.

In captivity, a green iguana’s diet should consist of approximately 80 to 90% vegetable matter, ten percent or less fruit, and ten percent or less protein.

How do I prepare my iguanas food?

If you wish to forego commercially prepackaged green iguana food, we want to stress that variety is key when it comes to preparing your iguana’s meals.

green iguana juvenile
Young green iguanas will need to eat more frequently than adults.

You will want 45 to 50 percent of the iguana’s nutrients to come from leafy greens. We recommend kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens. All of these veggies are high in vitamins and are extremely nutritious to both people and iguanas!

As far as preparation of leafy greens is concerned, we recommend washing the greens thoroughly and then doing a rough chop on them. You want the pieces to be bite sized so the iguana doesn’t choke. Pre-packaged, pre-cut greens are also appropriate and clearly less work than chopping your own.

Approximately 40 percent of your iguana’s diet can subsist of other veggies. We have found that squash, zucchini, green beans, snap/snow peas, carrots, and bell peppers are all appropriate fare.

The same rules apply to preparing non-leafy veggies for consumption. We’ve actually grated many of the veggies to make it quick and simple for the iguana to chow down, although dicing the veggies into bite size pieces is also perfectly acceptable.

Acceptable fruit options include: strawberries, blueberries, grapes, mangos, apples, and bananas. However, please keep in mind that with fruits, as well as with any other veggie, our list and examples is not exhaustive. These are just food items we discovered our iguanas take to quite readily.

As we’ve already mentioned, iguanas can and have been known to consume animal protein. However, we do not recommend that you feed your iguana much meat, if any at all. Perhaps as an occasional treat you could offer some dog food or insects, but we do highly advise sticking to a primarily vegetable-based diet. Too much protein will be very hard on your iguana’s liver.

What feeding schedule should I adhere to?

We feed our juvenile iguanas twice per day as they are growing and need all the vitamins and nutrients they can in order to develop strong bones and heathy scales.

Mature, adult green iguanas really only need to be fed once per day. We prepare a large plate of fresh veggies and a small amount of fruit and allow the iguana to eat until it is full. Iguanas have large appetites, but they are not gluttons and will stop eating when they’re full.

blue axanthic iguana
Pictured is a juvenile blue axanthic iguana. These iguanas have the same dietary requirements as a typical green iguana.

Remove any uneaten food from the iguana’s enclosure as you don’t want to encourage fruit flies or bacteria to grow  inside the cage.

How much water should I provide my iguana?

Like any living creature, green iguanas need a fresh water supply. There are several ways to go about ensuring your iguana is being properly hydrated.

One method is to spray water directly onto your iguana’s meal. This is usually a good method for leafy greens as they will hold the water in their folds and crevices rather than have it remain in the food dish.

Another method that is equally simple and actually kind of a no-brainer is to maintain a fresh water dish within your iguana’s cage. You might not actually see your iguana lapping at the water, but it will drink it when its thirsty.

If you have concerns about whether or not your iguana is drinking enough water, you can actually train it to drink from the water dish. We’ve heard of people placing a treat food into the water dish so that the iguana is forced to ingest water when consuming its tasty tidbit of food.

Conclusion

Because iguanas are herbivores, they make fantastic pets for people who don’t enjoy feeding their pet other living creatures such as insects, feeder fish, or even mice.

Green iguanas are also highly trainable and friendly when you work with them, so we think that as long as you’re committed to keeping a lizard that can grow to be six feet long from nose to tail, they make excellent and rewarding pets.

If you are ready for a pet green iguana of your own, Backwater Reptiles does sell them. We hope we’ve been able to effectively explain what iguanas eat in captivity.

 

Creating a Chameleon Habitat

If you’re wondering how to create a chameleon habitat for your new pet, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve bred and hatched thousands of chameleons, including over 20 different species. We’ve got expert advice for you as you journey into the fascinating world of these amazing reptiles.

Many people think they’d like a pet chameleon, but they don’t understand how sensitive these lizards are to their environment. Chameleons are actually not the best pet reptiles for beginning herp hobbyists simply because they have very specific husbandry requirements, so it’s important to do your research, which you obviously are if you’re reading this article!

Because one of the most commonly asked questions we get at Backwater Reptiles is how to set up a proper enclosure for a pet chameleon, we are dedicating this blog article to just that topic.

creating a chameleon habitat
Chameleons can be finicky animals, depending upon the species. We recommend you do your research before purchasing one of these amazing lizards so that you can create the right habitat.

Creating a Chameleon Habitat

What type of cage should I get for my chameleon?

Creating a chameleon habitat generally begins with selecting the proper enclosure. There is only one type of commercially produced cage that we recommend for the vast majority of pet chameleons and that’s a cage that has mesh or screen walls.

This means that you should generally avoid enclosures with glass or plastic walls to house most species of chameleon, with the exception of pygmy chameleons and a few others, which have an entirely different set of care requirements altogether.

screen cage for chameleon
This is a very good cage for a small chameleon. Notice that it has screen walls to encourage proper ventilation.

The reason a screen cage is required is that it allows air to flow freely in and out of the cage and aids in maintaining proper humidity and temperature. Glass or plastic walled cages encourage stagnant air which can lead to respiratory problems.

For young chameleons and smaller species, a cage that is 16″ x 16″ x 20″ is an acceptable size. Adults and larger species should have a cage that is approximately 18″ x 18″ x 36″ or  24″ x 24″ x 48″. The bigger the better, but you don’t have to go overboard.

There are very few species that require something larger and we actually wrote an entire article about those specific types of chameleons that you can read here.

What type of accessories are safe to put in my chameleon’s enclosure?

Most chameleons are arboreal (with very few exceptions) and very awkward and clumsy on flat surfaces, so you should put lots of climbing accessories into its cage. We recommend some plants (live or fake will both suffice) and some branches or vines. Exo Terra twistable vines are our favorite.

If you choose to put living plants inside your chameleon’s enclosure, please make sure that the plants you use are non-toxic and safe for consumption by both the chameleon and any insects you feed it.

Here are some commonly used live plants that are safe to place inside your chameleon’s cage: Ficus benajamina, Gardenia, Pothos, Mulberry, Schefflera arboricola, and Yucca. Our favorite live plant for our own chameleon habitats are Scheffleras–they hold water droplets well (as opposed to a Ficus), and have more sturdy branches (again, as opposed to a Ficus).

quadricornis chameleon (Trioceros quadricornis)
With proper husbandry, chameleons can make very rewarding pets. Here’s a young Four-horned chameleon, otherwise known as a “Quad” due to it’s scientific name: Trioceros quadricornis.

Unless you purchase your live plant from a boutique nursery, chances are it will be potted in commercial soil containing some pesticides. We always re-pot our plants in organic soil free from chemicals and rinse the plant in soapy water to wash any residue from the leaves.

Although chameleons rarely nibble on plant matter (although we have had Veiled chameleons eat leaves), the insects that are in their cage do. And what is in the tummies of the insects is by proxy in the tummy of the chameleon, so you want to be sure the plant contains no chemicals or pesticides.

We also want to mention that you don’t need to provide a water dish for your pet chameleon. They actually don’t recognize water dishes as sources of hydration and are also very rarely down on the bottom of their cage, so it is unnecessary.

Your chameleon will drink water from the leaves in its enclosure, so you just need to be sure to have a good drip system in place. We’ll go into more detail on that momentarily.

What type of lighting will my chameleon’s habitat require?

You’ll want two types of lighting in your chameleon’s habitat – a heat/basking light and a good quality UVB light. We prefer halogen flood bulbs for basking, generally in the 75w range. Avoid infra-red bulbs, and never use spot bulbs as the beam is too small and intense. A flood bulb spreads the light and heat much more effectively.

Some say that chameleons don’t require a source of heat, but we disagree, and our results have been impressive. We provide our chams with options and allow the lizard to choose–and you’d be amazed how often our’s will bask–even montane species (from the mountains).

Our favorite ultraviolet (UVB) bulb is a Reptisun 5.0. You can purchase these in Compact Fluorescent or regular fluorescent variations. We’ve exclusively used this type of bulb very successfully in our breeding programs.

Make sure that the plants within the chameleon’s enclosure are arranged so that your chameleon can get to within 4-6 inches of the UVB bulb. Any closer and you risk your chameleon getting burned accidentally, and any farther away and the UVB rays dissipate in quality and become nearly useless.

I tend to place the UVB lighting across the middle of the top, and the basking bulb in a corner, so that the other side of the habitat is cooler. This allows your chameleon to thermoregulate–a fancy word for letting it choose the temperature it wants.

How do I maintain the proper temperature and humidity levels?

For the most part, unless you live somewhere with extreme climates, room temperature should be a fine ambient temperature for your chameleon’s habitat.

Anywhere in the 70’s is usually ideal. However, you definitely want to make sure that the heat light you have set up on top of the cage creates a warmer area that stays around 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

We recommend purchasing a reptile temperature gun to make sure you are achieving proper heat levels within the basking area. This tool is pretty much required for any reptile owner.

chameleon care kit
Backwater Reptiles does in fact sell complete chameleon care kits. You can purchase them at the bottom of any chameleon for sale page.

As far as humidity is concerned, you’ll want to mist the enclosure daily. This can be achieved by manually spraying inside the enclosure once or twice each day. Or if you are not home most of the time, you can also buy a simple drip system that provides a steady source of dripping water into the cage.

Some people even splurge for a pricier automatic cage mister. These machines can be put on timers and you won’t even have to think about needing to mist your chameleon’s cage. Everything will be done automatically which is very convenient.

The best lower cost method is with the Exo Terra Monsoon, which is good for a few cages (4-6 or so). If you’ll have more than 4-6 chameleon habitats set up, you’ll probably want to splurge and purchase a heavier duty misting system such as Mist King, which can take care of 20+ enclosures with a single unit.

The result you’re looking for is droplets for the chameleon to lap-up, and increased humidity with the chameleon’s habitat. Persistent dehydration is one of the top causes of chameleon losses in captivity.

Conclusion – Creating a Chameleon Habitat

As you can see from this article, chameleons have very specific cage requirements. They need specific temperatures, regular misting and/or a source of dripping water, and we recommend two types of lights above their cage.

We think chameleons make extremely rewarding pets, but we also want all of our customers to be informed about what exactly it takes to make such a wonderful lizard happy and healthy in captivity.

If you’re interested in taking a foray into the world of chameleon keeping, and we hope that you are, please visit our website where we have the largest selection of chameleons in the world, along with all the required supplies we’ve mentioned in this care article.

 

Most Common Wild California Reptiles

Backwater Reptiles is based out of California and we experience many climates. We’ve got dry deserts, brisk coasts, and even mountains. This means that we’re lucky enough to have many different species of reptiles thriving in our own backyards!

In this blog article, we’ll tell you a little about some of the most commonly found wild reptiles we see in the Golden State.

California King Snake (Lampropeltis g. californiae)

In addition to being widespread in the wild throughout the state of California as their name suggests, California king snakes are also extremely popular pets in captivity.

Cal Kings can actually be found all along the west coast of North America. They are very adaptable and live in all types of habitats – woodland chaparral, grassland, deserts, marshes, and even developed suburban areas.

most common reptiles in California
This is a normal morph California king snake, although king snakes have been bred to express many different types of markings and colorations.

They have a habit of rattling their tail, coiling their bodies, and hissing when they feel threatened in an attempt to mimic their much more dangerous cousin, the rattlesnake. However, it should be noted that if you find a Cal King in the wild and are able to pick it up and handle it, these snakes are not venomous or dangerous to people. The worst that could happen to you is the snake might defecate on you or you could get a small bite.

Side Blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana)

The common side blotched lizard is found all along the Pacific coast of North America. They are small lizards that typically don’t surpass two and half inches long. Males are larger than females.

female side blotched lizard
This is a female side blotched lizard. Females are less colorful than males who often times have blue spots and stripes.

There are three distinct wild morphs of side blotched lizards. Each lizard has a different color throat (yellow, orange, or blue) and actually behaves differently when it comes to mating strategies. But one thing all three morphs have in common is a mark, blotch, or dot on their torso behind their forearms. This mark is what gives the lizard its common name and also helps identify it in the wild.

Side blotched lizards are really interesting to observe in the wild and do make good pets. However, be warned that they are small lizards and have relatively short life spans. They also don’t enjoy being held as they are prey for many predators in the wild, so it may take lots of handling to tame one as a pet.

Red Eared Slider Turtle (Trachemys s. elegans)

Let us preface this section by stating that although red eared slider turtles are now commonly seen in ponds and lakes throughout California, they are not endemic to the state. In fact, they are actually considered invasive as they compete with native turtles for food and basking spots.

Red eared sliders are very adaptive and can thrive in any body of water ranging from a river to a pond in your backyard. They are opportunistic omnivores and will eat decaying organic matter whether it’s protein-based or plant-based.

red eared slider turtle hatchlings
Red eared sliders are popular pets, but because they are invasive to the state of California, please re-home your turtle responsibly if you can no longer care for it.

While they make fantastic pets, many of the sliders found in the wild in California are actually pets that have been released into local ponds, canals, or estuaries when they are no longer wanted. If you own a red eared slider, please be a responsible pet owner and re-home your turtle appropriately if you can no longer care for it.

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)

Western fence lizards are extremely common not only in California, but also in Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Washington, and Northern Mexico. Many people refer to them as “blue bellies” due to the bold blue coloring on their throats and tummies.

western fence lizard
This is the common Western Fence Lizard, also known as the “blue belly” lizard. The photo shows its underside which demonstrates how this little lizard got its common name.

Western fence lizards are very common throughout all areas of California. They inhabit chaparral, grasslands, sage brush, woodland, forests, farmland, and surprisingly, even suburban areas. In fact, if you live in a sunny area of California, it’s not uncommon to find a blue belly basking in your yard or scuttling underfoot if you cross their path.

Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer)

Gopher snakes are very commonly found throughout much of North America and any California herp enthusiast has probably caught or encountered a wild one at some point in his or her life. This snake’s broad range is a testament to its adaptability, hardiness, and overall survival skills.

Although most California natives can probably find a gopher snake in their backyard or within an hour’s distance of their backyard, if you want one for a pet, we always recommend purchasing a captive bred animal. They generally don’t have any parasites, are more docile, and have grown accustomed to a captive life style.

gopher snake
Gopher snakes are usually pretty docile and captive bred animals take to human interaction well.

Gophers have simple care requirements. Virtually any type of substrate will suit them, although we prefer aspen snake bedding. Provide more horizontal floor space than vertical climbing space, a few hiding spots, and a water dish, and your gopher snake should thrive. It’s not even necessary to provide any special UV lighting, although we always use one just to help regulate the temperature and provide day/night cycles.

Conclusion

All of the species listed above are very commonly found throughout the state of California. We’d even wager that most California natives will or have already come in contact with three out of the five species listed.

The Biggest Pet Lizards

What are the biggest pet lizards in the world? We aim to answer that question in the below article, based upon our experience with some of the largest reptiles in the world.

Big pet lizards are not for everyone, just like big pet dogs are not for everyone. It takes a specific personality and certain commitments in order to care for such a large pet, whether it’s a mammal or a reptile.

In this article, we’ll list the best biggest pet lizards sold at Backwater Reptiles as well as why we think they make great pets for the right people.

The Biggest Pet Lizards

Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

Green iguanas are probably the most common large lizard sold at Backwater Reptiles. They are very recognizable with their large dewlaps, spiky spines, and brilliant green coloration.

Most people will purchase their green iguana as a hatchling and raise it to adulthood. We recommend this process as it gives your iguana time to get used to you. Many hatchling iguanas can be flighty, so the more time your pet iguana has to acclimate to you, the better.

biggest pet lizards
Green iguana hatchlings can fit in your hand, but don’t be fooled. They grow fast!

Iguanas are the only true herbivores on this list. They will thrive on a diet of leafy greens, fruit, and small amounts of protein. We recommend chopped squash, kale, spinach, collard greens, and carrots. Fruit in moderation is also acceptable – apples, strawberries, and blueberries are all examples of fruit that iguanas are known to enjoy. You can also give your iguana small amounts of protein, but keep this to a minimum as it can cause renal damage in large amounts.

Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus)

No list of the biggest pet lizards would be complete without mentioning monitors. Although it’s not the biggest species of monitor lizard, we do think Savannah monitors are one of the best choices as far as pet monitor lizards are concerned.

Hatchlings are only a few inches long, but mature Savannahs will usually grow to be around three feet long, give or take, and live anywhere between fifteen to twenty years. This makes them moderately-sized monitors that are more suited to living a domestic life with human beings as companions than some of their larger monitor cousins.

baby savannah monitor
This baby Savannah monitor is only a few inches long and will be fine in a ten gallon tank for now. However, it will require more space as it grows.

The minimum size cage we recommend for an adult Savannah is six feet long by four feet tall. If you keep a breeding pair, you should have a slightly larger enclosure.

Savannahs are carnivores and very voracious eaters with no lack of appetite. Hatchlings should be fed a diet of various insects that are gut-loaded and vitamin dusted.

Once they are larger, we’ve found that ground turkey or other lean meat mixed with raw egg and vitamin powder is an appropriate staple diet. It’s also just fine to feed rodents, but because they are prone to obesity, we recommend keeping the rodents to a minimum.

Their cousins, the Blackthroat monitors, are even larger and can become wonderful pet lizards if you’ve got the space.

Argentine Black and White Tegu (Tupinambis merianae)

With proper husbandry and care, an Argentine black and white tegu can grow to be four and a half feet long. Males are considerably larger both in terms of length and body mass. Most females won’t surpass three feet long.

baby argentine black and white tegu
Baby Argentine tegus have emerald green heads and upper torsos.

When they are babies, Argentine black and white tegus have emerald green heads and upper torsos, but after several sheds, this green color fades away. At maturity, they are black and white with beaded markings.

Although they require lots of room to roam, Argentine black and white tegus are popular pets because they are highly intelligent. Many people liken them to dogs or cats because they can be house-trained and will become very docile with regular human interaction.

Parson’s Chameleon (Calumma parsonii)

Compared to the other lizards on this list, the Parson’s chameleon is actually relatively small. However, when compared with other chameleons, the Parson’s is a giant! Rather than calling it one of the biggest pet lizards, it’s probably more accurate to say “easily the most massive chameleon in the world.”

We also want to say that although Parson’s chameleons are the smallest of the lizards on this list, that doesn’t mean they are the easiest to care for. In fact, we might say that the opposite is true.

parsons chameleon adult male
As you can see, an adult male Parson’s chameleon takes up an entire forearm! The largest specimens have been said to be the size of a house cat.

Parson’s chameleons might require less space to thrive, but the other conditions required to keep them happy and healthy are tougher to maintain. Like nearly all chameleon species, Parson’s are finicky. They can be tough to feed and if their natural environment is not replicated well enough, they can easily become ill.

If you are interested in a pet Parson’s chameleon, we highly recommend that you research the animal extensively and make sure that you can provide proper lighting, plant life, humidity and water, and a balanced diet.

Conclusion: The biggest pet lizards

Sure, big lizards aren’t for everyone. It takes someone who has the available space and time to devote to such a large pet reptile.

If you think you’re ready to take on one of these large lizards, Backwater Reptiles sells green iguanas, Argentine black and white tegus, Savannah monitors, and Parson’s chameleons.

Most Popular Pet Desert Lizards

Lizards make great pets, but there are so many species to choose from that it can be hard to know which type is best for you.

At Backwater Reptiles, we’re of the opinion that desert dwelling lizards generally have the simplest care requirements. What’s more, most species that come from similar habitats have essentially the same husbandry needs.

In this blog article, we’ll discuss our list of the most popular pet desert lizards.

Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)

The leopard gecko likes to make appearances on just about all of our “list” blogs. That’s because it’s seriously one of the best pet lizards out there no matter what list category it’s in!

Although it is a desert lizard, it’s so simple to care for a leopard gecko that you don’t even necessarily need to provide a desert, sandy substrate to line your leopard gecko’s cage. We do recommend something a bit fancier if aesthetics are important to you when creating a habitat, but just know that leopard geckos can and will do just fine with paper towels as a substrate. Just be sure to provide hiding places.

most popular pet desert lizards
Pictured is a normal-sized, mature leopard gecko and a “jumbo” leopard gecko. Both have the same care requirements, but clearly the jumbo is larger.

The main reason we’ve placed the leopard gecko at the top of this list is because it is such a versatile lizard when it comes to appearances. Due to captive breeding efforts, leopard geckos are available in a seemingly endless variety of morphs! They can be red in color, extremely large (i.e. jumbo), or even pure white. People love being able to show off their leopard gecko’s unique patterns and we don’t blame them.

Desert Collared Lizard (Crotaphytis bicinctores)

Desert collared lizards are so named because they have crisp white and black bands around their neck that make them appear to be wearing a necklace or collar.

desert collared lizard
Can you see the black and white bands on this desert collared lizard’s neck that are responsible for giving the lizard its common name?

People enjoy keeping desert collared lizards as pets because they tend to be curious and inquisitive by nature. This means they’re not overly shy or too skittish.

Collared Lizards will require high temperatures to stay healthy and basking lights to provide them with access to the full UV spectrum. We recommend investing in a good thermometer to monitor cage temperature along with some heating pads and UV clip lights.

Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos

It can be somewhat tricky to keep a desert horned lizard, so we recommend them for herp hobbyists that have a moderate level of experience keeping lizards.

Because they eat mainly ants in the wild, you will either need to procure ants to feed your desert horned lizard, or purchase a supplement that gives them the formic acid required to keep them healthy.

desert horned lizard
Desert Horned Lizards are actually pretty friendly in general and don’t mind being held.

Horned lizards have relatively laid back personalities, which makes them fairly popular pets. For the most part, they aren’t stressed out by being handled, which means they can be fairly interactive pets once they’ve become acclimated to you.

Zebra Tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides)

People love zebra tailed lizards because they have some pretty unique behaviors. These long-limbed and long-tailed lizards are known for running on their back legs to evade predators. They also perform elaborate “dances” when the sand they sit on gets too hot. They will raise two legs while keeping the other two on the ground and alternate so that they avoid overheating.

One thing to keep in mind if you want a pet zebra tailed lizard is that because they are very active, you should give them a relatively large enclosure, even though the lizards themselves don’t get too large. Adults should get a 55 gallon tank with a wire top so that they have space to scuttle about and get exercise.

sebra tailed lizard
Zebra tailed lizards have distinct stripes on their tails.

In addition to boldly striped tails and colorful underbellies, you’ll notice that zebra tailed lizards also have cute turned up “shovel” noses. They use these noses and their long limbs to burrow into sand at night to stay warm or hide from predators.

Conclusion – Most popular pet desert lizards

Because the main care requirement for a desert dwelling lizard is heat, warmth, and UV exposure, we feel that they are one of the easiest types of lizards to maintain in captivity.

Pet leopard geckos, pet desert horned lizards, pet zebra tailed lizards, and pet desert collared lizards are all rewarding choices if you’re in the market for a desert dwelling species.

How to Breed Leopard Geckos

Ever wondered how to breed Leopard geckos? Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius) are quite possibly the most common pet lizard. You can find them for sale at big pet stores as well as get them from specialty breeders and reptile shows. They are very well-loved and respected amongst reptile enthusiasts.

But did you know that in addition to having very basic care requirements that are quite simple to meet, leopard geckos are also really easy to breed?

Read on to find out how we take care of our leopard gecko breeding groups. We’ll cover everything from mating to caring for your hatchlings, and everything in-between.

how to breed leopard geckos
Get ready to learn exactly how to breed Leopard geckos.

Step-by-step: How to Breed Leopard Geckos

Leopard Gecko Mating

It’s common sense that in order to get leopard gecko babies, you’ll have to get your leopard geckos to mate. The good news is that this is almost easier done than said!

Because leopard geckos of similar size can usually be housed communally, you can keep several females in the same enclosure with one male. Never, ever, keep two adult males in the same enclosure unless you want a bloody battle royale to ensue.

One easy way to tell if you have a male leopard gecko is by looking beneath the lizard’s tail. It should have a pronounced hemipenile bulge, whereas females won’t. Also, males and females both have a broad V-shape of pores at the base of their tail. Males have much deeper pores, and often times you can see a waxy substance in and around the pores of males (but never females).

Make sure that your geckos are of breeding age. Most will be ready to reproduce when they are nine to ten months old or weigh approximately 50 grams.

You most likely won’t witness the actual mating behavior because it only takes two to three minutes, and they are nocturnal lizards. However, most females are receptive to males unless they are malnourished or unhealthy. Excited males will vibrate the very tip of their tail prior to mating, and it can actually be fairly loud!

Females can lay several clutches of eggs from a single mating. However, in order to maintain peak fertility and laying, keep the male with the female at least once per week.

We have a rack system and continually move breeder males from bin to bin during breeding season. This have provided great results and our females lay eggs very regularly.

Hopefully we’ve sufficiently answered how to breed Leopard geckos, but if you have any additional questions, please feel free to e-mail us.

How Leopard Geckos Lay Eggs

The average clutch size for a leopard gecko is two eggs. However, don’t be alarmed if your female only lays a single egg as this does happen from time to time, albeit infrequently.

leopard gecko eggs unearthed
This clutch has two eggs. You can very gently uncover the eggs once you think the female has laid them. Most often, she will deposit them in the corner of the substrate container.

Over the course of a year, a successful mating pair can produce anywhere from eight to ten eggs. If you are repeatedly allowing your female to breed, we recommend proper vitamin dusting with calcium supplements as producing and laying eggs is a very strenuous process for a female.

We follow Ron Tremper’s advice and offer Vionate (vitamin) and Osteo-Form (calcium) to our Leopard gecko breeding colonies. Ron Tremper is, in our opinion, the most venerable Leopard gecko breeder in the world, and the industry owes him a great debt of gratitude.

fertile leopard gecko eggs
These two eggs are most likely fertile because they feel firm and dry.

If you observe your geckos closely, you will notice that the substrate in which the eggs are buried will appear slanted. For example, at Backwater Reptiles, we have special shoe boxes with lids filled with substrate to give the females a good medium to comfortably lay their eggs (another Ron Tremper recommendation).

When we open the lids, if we see that the substrate is piled up on one side and angled downwards on the other side of the box, this indicates that the female has been digging and signals us to unearth the eggs and transfer them to the incubator.

buried leopard gecko eggs
If you look closely at this photo, you’ll see that the substrate is at an angle. This indicates that the female has been digging. The eggs will be buried under the side at the top of the slant.

Incubating Leopard Gecko Eggs

Once you have gently unearthed your leopard gecko eggs, you can transfer them to an incubator.

leopard gecko eggs in incubating medium
Here are the leopard gecko eggs nestled gently into the incubating medium within the incubating cup.

Fertile eggs are firm, taut, and have a small amount of weight to them. If the eggs feel squishy and soft, odds are they will not hatch. However, we always incubate all the eggs just in case, even if we do think they aren’t fertile.

At Backwater Reptiles, we use an incubating substrate called Repashy Superhatch as our incubation media. We fill small plastic cups with lids with the medium, soak the clay granules for a minute, pour standing water out, and place 2-6 eggs into each vented deli cup with the lid on.

leopard gecko incubation medium
Backwater Reptiles uses Repashy Superhatch incubation medium to hatch our baby leopard geckos, but there are other options such as perlite or vermiculite.

Fun fact: If you know what morph your parent leopard geckos are, you can keep track of the mixes of babies you produce. It can be interesting to see what patterns and colors result from different breeding pairs.

Once you’ve placed your eggs securely in the incubation substrate (they should be embedded about halfway into the media), you can label your cup if you desire. At Backwater Reptiles, we include the date we uncovered the clutch as well as what morphs the parents were and the bin where the eggs were found.

leopard gecko eggs in incubator
As you can see, you can incubate multiple clutches simultaneously. This is why we label our incubation cups at Backwater Reptiles.

Keep your incubator temperature set anywhere from 77 to 90+ degrees. The gender of the babies will be determined by what temperature you select, so if you want females, keep the temperature in the lower range. If you want males, keep it warmer.

What to Do When Your Leopard Gecko Eggs Hatch

After about two months, you can expect your eggs to start hatching.

hatching leopard geckos
These hatchlings are ready to be moved from their incubation cup to a proper enclosure.

The babies know how to exit the eggs. They won’t need any help. Odds are that if you start checking the eggs on a daily basis around the time that two months have elapsed, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to open your incubator lid and – voila! – hatchling leopard geckos!

Here’s a story that proves just how easy it can be to incubate Leopard gecko eggs. Once when we were cleaning, feeding, and checking the bins we came across perfect little babies in one of the Super Snow shoeboxes! They were eggs that we didn’t notice, but that incubated successfully inside the main enclosure.

Conclusion – How to breed Leopard geckos

It honestly doesn’t take a lot to breed leopard geckos. This is a species that takes to captivity very well and will therefore reproduce naturally if you have a male and female together.

If you think you’d like to start a leopard gecko family of your own, Backwater Reptiles has leopard gecko morphs of all types and can get you a male and female to begin your journey, including many different morphs, and even giant and super giants!

What’s the Difference Between Snakes and Legless Lizards?

What comes to mind when you hear the words legless lizard? For a great number of people, the answer is a snake. Logically, a lizard without legs that slithers as a means of locomotion would be classified as a snake, right? Not the case!

What’s the Difference Between Snakes & Legless Lizards?

In this article, we’ll address these questions:
-What exactly is a legless lizard?
-What makes a legless lizard different from a snake?
-Do legless lizards make good pets?

The Difference Between Snakes and Legless Lizards

What is a legless lizard?

Also commonly known as glass lizards, legless lizards are any number of lizards from the family Pygopodidae that have either completely lost their limbs or have reduced them in size to the point that they are no longer useful in locomotion.

legless lizards versus snakes
As you can see from this photo, upon first glance, this legless lizard appears very much the same as a snake. However, there are actually many physical traits that make the two reptiles different from one another.

As you might surmise, legless lizards closely resemble snakes in terms of appearance. They come in many color schemes and can be found in various climates.

What makes a legless lizard different from a snake?

First of all, observant people who are not afraid to get up close and personal with reptiles will be able to see physical differences between legless lizards and snakes.

Legless lizards have eyelids and can blink, whereas snakes lack eyelids and therefore cannot blink. Although we’ve never tried it, we’re sure that if you stared at a legless lizard long enough, you’d eventually see it blink.

If you turn a snake over and examine its belly, you’ll notice it will have a broad, single row of scales that runs the length of its body. When you take a look at the belly of a legless lizard however, you’ll be able to see that it lacks this feature.

Another physical trait you can observe in a legless lizard is an external ear opening. Snakes actually don’t have ears. They sense sound in a different manner than most animals, so they have no need for external ears.

The last physical trait you can observe that distinguishes legless lizards from snakes is the length of the animal’s body. This might seem silly, but snakes have long bodies with short tails, whereas legless lizards have short bodies with long tails. It might take a bit more practice to recognize where an animal’s tail begins, but combined with all the other visible traits that differentiate legless lizards from snakes, we think even reptile novices will be able to tell the difference between the two.

legless lizard
A closer look at this glass lizard’s face will show you that it has external ear openings, which snakes lack.

Lastly, snakes have a jaw that can unhinge to allow for them to consume prey much larger than most animals. A snake can eat something as large or sometimes larger than its head, whereas its unwise to feed a lizard anything larger than the space between its eyes, regardless of whether or not that lizard has legs. Legless lizards do not possess the proper anatomy to be able to unhinge their jaw and therefore eat mostly small invertebrates, whereas snakes generally eat small mammals.

Do legless lizards make good pets?

At Backwater Reptiles, we think every critter we sell would make a good fit for the right type of person.

Glass lizards are sort of just very chill versions of “normal” lizards with legs. We’ve found that some lizard species are naturally more flighty and timid, which means they don’t enjoy being held. They’re prone to skuttling out of your hand or squiggling uncomfortably. Because legless lizards are not the speediest of reptiles, they’re usually just fine to relax in your hands, although they’re not as likely to wind around your wrist or wrap around your fingers as a pet snake would be.

glass lizard
Glass lizards even flick their tongues out in the same way that snakes do, however their tongues are shaped slightly different.

As we’ve previously touched upon, legless lizards are carnivores, so as long as you feed them a varied diet of different invertebrates, your legless lizard will thrive. In the wild, they’ll eat everything from worms to other reptiles’ eggs. At Backwater Reptiles, we feed ours gutloaded crickets, mealworms, night crawlers on occasion, and wax worms as treats.

Conclusion

So, we’ve learned that legless lizards and snakes are definitely not the same. Although they are very similar in appearance, they are very different creatures with different care requirements.

If this discussion has got you thinking you’d enjoy a pet legless lizard of your own, Backwater Reptiles sells them.

 

Most Interactive Pet Reptiles

What are the most interactive pet reptiles? Some people have said to us that they don’t understand why people keep reptiles as pets. Because they are technically an exotic species, most types of reptiles, whether lizard, snake, turtle, or tortoise, are not particularly cuddly or playful towards their owners in the same manner that a dog or cat would be.

However, this blog article will prove those naysayers wrong. While it’s true that many reptile species are best kept as “decorative” pets, there are species out there that bond with their owners and like being taken out of their cage to be played with. Read on to find out which species we’ve ranked as the most interactive pet reptiles.

The Most Interactive Pet Reptiles

Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)

Bearded dragons are bred to be many different colors and textures (i.e. they are available in countless morphs) to appeal to owners with all kinds of aesthetics, but they are also one of the most relaxed, uncomplicated species of lizards you’ll ever encounter.

most interactive pet reptiles
This hatchling bearded dragon is quite at ease being held and touched by people.

Bearded dragons are captive bred through enough generations at this point that while they are not technically domesticated, they have become quite tame.

It’s not uncommon for Beardies to enjoy being taken out of their cage to spend time with their owners. Many people like to place their Beardie on their shoulder while they sit at the computer and still others will take their Beardie to the couch to watch TV with them!

The point we’re making here is that Beardies are extremely friendly, mid-size companion lizards that will enjoy human interaction.

Ball Python (Python regius)

Although they’re a bit on the quiet side, ball pythons are very calm, docile snakes and have been dubbed the most popular pet snake in the reptile world.

Like bearded dragons, they can also be bred to express any number of traits in a seemingly endless number of morphs. Some of the most popular are albino, pastel, and fire.

baby ball python
This “normal” phase baby ball python is perfectly content to curl up in a ball and sit in the palm of your hand.

Ball python hatchlings are usually sold at around ten inches long and will mature into mid-size snakes that max out at approximately six feet in length, although three feet is a far more common size.

Ball pythons enjoy curling up into a ball and sitting in your hand, but once they reach adult size, many people also enjoy wrapping the snake around their neck. Ball pythons are not super squiggly snakes, so they tend to move slowly and more often than not, they will stay put wherever you place them.

Sulcata Tortoise (Geochelone sulcata)

If you want a carefree pet that will make itself at home in your backyard, then we highly recommend you get yourself a sulcata tortoise.

sulcata tortoise outdoors
This adult sulcata tortoise is enjoying wandering around outside in the nice weather. If you create a proper outdoor enclosure, your pet sulcata will feel the same.

Not only do these tortoises live very long lives (most will outlive their owners!), they’re also very low key. If you let your tortoise roam your yard, odds are you’ll see it at feeding time and out basking when the weather is nice.

The bottom line is that sulcatas don’t ask much from their owner. They are content to wander your yard and they’ll come say hi and get their shell scratched from time to time.

Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus)

A word of warning before we start singing the praises of the Savannah monitor – these lizards grow large. If you are not prepared to house a lizard that will top out at around five feet long, then please, stick to one of the other smaller species on this list.

baby savannah monitor
Baby Savannah monitors are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but be warned – they grow to be around five feet long!

Savannahs are friendly as babies and with training and socialization, they can become as tame as a dog or cat. In fact, there are many videos online that show massive Savannahs watching TV sitting on their owners’ laps or on leashes going for walks. Once they are full-grown, a Savannah that is well cared for will be friendly and sociable with people.

We recommend starting out with a hatchling Savannah monitor and forming a bond with it as it grows. Babies can comfortably sit in the palm of your hand and if you teach them that being taken out of their cage means petting, food, and positive interaction with people, before long you’ll have a Savannah monitor that you’ll be happy to introduce to your friends and family.

Conclusion – Most interactive pet reptiles

We hope we’ve shown you that although reptiles are not necessarily going to share your bed like a cat or dog would, they can capture your heart just as quickly. They can be loving, friendly, and full of personality just like any other pet.

If you wish to purchase a pet bearded dragon, ball python, sulcata tortoise, or savannah monitor, Backwater Reptiles sells all of these interactive pet reptiles.

 

The Smallest Pet Geckos

We know we’re guilty of swooning and exclaiming over animals because their tiny-ness somehow seems to make them cuter in our eyes. If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to read on and check out our list of the smallest pet geckos sold at Backwater Reptiles. You won’t regret it!

The Smallest Pet Geckos

Dwarf Yellow Head Gecko (Lygodactylus albogularis)

Like all the geckos on this list, the yellow head dwarf gecko is a species of dwarf gecko. It’s very aptly named as it is known for its brightly-colored yellow head as well as its small stature.

These geckos are from East Africa and are very common in Tanzania. They thrive in man-made environments in captivity, but are commonly found nearly everywhere in their native country – on fence posts, basking on stone walls, in crevices outdoors, and on sign posts.

smallest pet geckos
Pictured is a mature yellow head dwarf gecko. Even when fully grown, these miniature lizards rarely exceed three inches and can easily fit in the palm of your hand or straddle your finger.

Yellow head geckos rarely exceed three inches in length. They have an expected life span of five to ten years in captivity.

Because they are “bite sized” animals, yellow head geckos are naturally very shy and will therefore require lots of hiding places in their enclosure. They will hide in loose substrate, tunnel-like decor, and the foliage provided for them to climb on.

Williams Blue Cave Gecko (Lygodactylus williamsi)

The most colorful gecko on our list is certainly the Williams blue cave gecko. The males of this dwarf gecko species are a brilliant, bold blue tone with black stripe accents, while the females are a bronze-like green color with fainter dark accent stripes.

female lygodactylus williamsi
This is a female Williams blue cave gecko. Females don’t live up to the “blue” portion of their common moniker since they are actually green in color.

Besides commonly being called the Williams blue cave gecko, this species is also named the electric blue day gecko and the turquoise dwarf gecko. We think all of these names are suitable as they properly describe the attributes that best represent what this species of gecko is known for.

male lygodactylus williamsi
The male Williams blue cave gecko is a true gem and definitely earns itself all its common color-based, descriptive names.

The Williams blue cave gecko is slightly smaller in size than the yellow head dwarf gecko. The blue cave gecko generally stays under or around two and a half inches long when fully grown, with the females being slightly smaller than the males. Captive animals usually have life spans of five to ten years.

Ashy Gecko (Sphaerodactylus elegans)

As hatchlings, ashy geckos look extremely different than their adult counterparts. Babies are horizontally striped and exhibit multiple colors. Once they become adults, their coloration becomes somewhat drab. We’d describe them as salt and pepper toned – they have a mixture of brown, black, and grey speckles all over their bodies.

juvenile ashy gecko
Young ashy geckos are rainbows of color with horizontal stripes or banding. As they mature, they become more drab.

Baby ashy geckos, as well as all the dwarf gecko species on this list, are extremely tiny and can fit through the small holes in screen cages as well as the gaps in screen cages doors. We highly recommend sealing any cage edges or large holes with masking tape or electrical tape until your gecko has grown into its enclosure.

adult ashy gecko
Adult ashy geckos don’t usually surpass three inches in length. They are also peppered with brown, black, and grey spots.

Your pet ashy gecko (and all the other mini geckos on this list) will eat small insects. At Backwater Reptiles, we give ours mainly pinhead crickets and fruit flies.

Conclusion – Smallest pet geckos

The petite geckos described in our list are not very hard to care for. They also don’t require a large enclosure, given the fact that they themselves don’t take up lots of space.

If you can handle the cute punch that these tiny geckos pack, Backwater Reptiles has got you covered! We sell dwarf yellow head geckos, Williams blue cave geckos, and ashy geckos at affordable prices. Just be sure your enclosure is secure as pretty much all these tiny geckos are master escape artists!

Trickiest Pet Lizards

Many lizards are relatively low maintenance and thrive in captivity with minimal care. However, there are many that have finicky temperaments, need more space, or have specialized diets that are not so effortless to keep in captivity, even though they can make equally rewarding companions.

The following list describes our top picks for the lizards that we feel are best suited to be kept by hobbyists with plenty of experience. In other words, these animals can be tricky to care for.

Flying Dragon (Draco volans)

The flying dragon is an agamid lizard that gets its name from its ability to open up membranes attached to the side of its body that allow it to glide from tree to tree in its natural habitat.

trickiest pet lizards
Pictured is a flying dragon with its wings folded against its body.

Flying dragons are dark brown with even darker accent markings and appear remarkably ordinary when their wings are not in use. The dragon’s wings are kept folded tightly against its body when it is not gliding, which gives the lizard a long, slender appearance. When extended, the wings have bright yellow and black markings which is what attracts many owners to them in the first place.

Due to their inclination to glide, you will need to provide a very large enclosure for such a relatively small lizard. We also recommend that the enclosure’s walls be constructed of screen material both to cultivate the proper humidity levels and also so that the dragon doesn’t glide into a hard surface and injure itself accidentally.

In addition to requiring a large, semi-specialized enclosure, flying dragons can also take time to acclimate to captive diets. In the wild, they eat mostly termites and ants, so you will need to spend some time training your dragon to consume prey items outside of its usual fare such as crickets, roaches, and other invertebrates.

If you’re prepared to own your own flying dragon, Backwater Reptiles sells these unique lizards and also has a blog article written up that details how best to care for them.

Flying Gecko (Ptychozoon kuhli)

Like the flying dragon, flying geckos are another species of lizard that can glide from tree to tree in the wild. However, flying geckos are much larger and heftier than flying dragons and don’t possess wings to help them glide. Instead, these geckos have specially designed tails, thick webbing between their toes, and membranes extending from their sides.

Housing a flying gecko is also different than housing a flying dragon. Because geckos are more likely to injure themselves by gliding in a confined space, most owners actually restrict them to a small space so that they don’t have room to fly.

flying gecko adult
This photo shows the serrated nature of the flying gecko’s tail. You can also see the thick webbing of the gecko’s toes.

Flying geckos are also not known for their stellar personalities. While they’re not necessarily outwardly aggressive, they certainly don’t enjoy being handled too frequently and would much rather hide than interact with you. Flying geckos are pets that are ultimately best kept for display purposes rather than for their social skills.

Interested in a flying gecko of your own? Backwater Reptiles has got you covered.

Parson’s Chameleon (Calumma parsonii)

Like many chameleon species, Parson’s chameleons can have a tough time acclimating to captivity. And because these chameleons are so rare, they come with a very steep price point, which is very risky if you don’t feel confident in your capabilities to care for the animal.

Parson’s are the heftiest chameleons both in terms of weight and physical body size. This means that they will require a very large mesh enclosure with just the precise amount of humidity, plenty of misting, and lots of invertebrates to feed such a considerable lizard.

adult parsons chameleon
Parson’s chameleons grip very hard, so we recommend protection if you wish to handle yours.

Although you can handle your Parson’s chameleon, we only recommend it for experienced herp enthusiasts. Due to their immense size, the grip of a Parson’s is actually quite strong and very tenacious. If a Parson’s grabs you and doesn’t feel like moving along, you’ll have quite a tough time getting it to relinquish its hold. In other words, many owners of Parson’s chameleons will wear gloves when handling large, mature animals.

Parson’s are not aggressive like some other smaller chameleon species, but they are rather shy. They’d prefer to hide from you. But that doesn’t mean that they’re incapable of biting. Approach your Parson’s with caution and be careful if it begins to hiss or express discomfort towards you.

If you are ready to commit to a hefty Parson’s chameleon, they can certainly make very prized pets. These are very hard to come by, but Backwater Reptiles has a few for sale.

Conclusion

While all three of the lizards listed above are not commonly kept in captivity due to tricky care requirements and/or temperaments, they can be very cherished pets.

We highly recommend that these lizards be kept only by people who have had a few years of experience keeping other reptiles.