5) Do not grab or hold a lizard by the tail. Even though the tail of a bearded dragon, blue-tongue skink, or savanna monitor will not break off, it is uncomfortable for the lizard. Get used to holding the lizard by putting your hand under its belly and supporting its weight from below.
6) Never use your lizard to frighten anyone! Strange as it may sound, some people are afraid of reptiles, and that kind of fear has led to many laws and regulations being passed that make owning reptiles in some places difficult. It is much better for the lizards – and the rest of us keepers – if you use your lizard to help teach other people how wonderful they really are!
7) Never release an unwanted pet reptile into the wild. Most pets are from other continents and will not live long where you live. It is also possible, especially in a place like Florida, that the released pet will do well and, if many such pets have been released, found a colony of foreign animals. This is not good for the local wildlife and really upsets conservationists and Fish and Wildlife officials.
8) All diurnal (active during the daytime) lizards need some ultraviolet light in their lives. But UV light does not penetrate glass, so it doesn’t help to put a terrarium near a window. In addition to a heat light (all lizards need a temperature of at least 78 degrees F, many much more), you will need a good full-spectrum UV light. These are now produced to fit in either a screw-in socket or a standard fluorescent tube socket. For examples of excellent products check the Zoo Med website at http://www.zoomed.com.
9) Always be sure your lizard has access to fresh, clean water! Some lizards only drink dew drops from leaves, but these species are not among the beginner’s species. Even desert lizards – and that includes all of the beginner species I’ve listed – can and will drink from a dish, and even enjoy soaking if the dish is large enough. Soaking also makes skin shedding easier for your lizards.
10) Do not crowd your lizard. If you are getting two lizards to start with, make them both the same species, preferably one of each sex, about the same size, and house them in a terrarium that is large enough. Overcrowded lizards become stressed and may refuse to eat. They are also more likely to catch an illness. If you cannot offer enough space, do not get the lizard. Period. (Continued…)