Dead Alligator Lizard


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Common Concerns

Great habitat for alligator lizards in Surprise Canyon: wild grape vines sprawling over talus slopes. Panamint alligator lizards climb readily, and are well-shaped for hunting insects in thickets and stony crevices. They apparently become crepuscular dawn and dusk-active and nocturnal during the hot summer months. During the cooler spring and fall they may be more diurnal. Climbing through wild grapes and willows: with a slow slithering movement they deftly climb up vines, on plant stalks, and up twigs and branches using the tail as a counterbalance and support -- the tails are not pehensile.

A panamint alligator lizard munching down a cricket. They also eat moths, grasshoppers, and beetle larvae.

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This can be achieved with broad-leaf plants or cork-bark slabs sitting at an angle in the enclosure. Abronia lizards will die if they are left in a hot cage in full sun with no shade and no way to thermoregulate. I offer my abronia lizards a variety of insects. Their favorites are large, black, diurnal crickets, followed by grasshoppers. They will also take green caterpillars such as hornworms , snails, spiders, mealworms, soldier fly larvae I use Phoenix Worms due to their high calcium content and roaches.

I often feed my abronia by hand or with tweezers to make sure they are eating. I also assist weak or sick lizards this way. As with all primarily insectivorous lizards, offer abronia a variety of insects with emphasis on prey items that are low in protein.

Common Concerns

Bugs full of plant matter, such as caterpillars, grasshoppers or katydids, are relished. My abronia respond especially well to green grasshoppers that are caught in a hay field. I gut-load all prey insects with a variety of leafy greens, such as kale, romaine lettuce and dandelion greens, as well as assorted fruits and vegetables.

I also keep feeder insects on a substrate comprised of a mix of ground-up whole grains. While crickets are a favorite of my abronia, I do not recommend offering crickets that are raised on chicken mash. They will contain higher levels of protein, and this could be problematic for insectivores such as abronia. Males, in particular, slow down and eat less during the summer, just before breeding season, and all abronia slow down when temperatures drop during the winter.

Additionally, two to three times a week, I provide a dripper cup that slowly drips approximately one cup of water over a specific plant in the enclosure. For all watering, I use tap water that has been exposed to the air for 24 hours. This removes chemicals such as chlorine from the water.

Another watering method, which I really like and am currently testing, is to use a Misty Mate pressure spray bottle. This high-pressure system emits a fine mist for up to 20 minutes, and it is excellent for simulating a cloud-forest environment.

Alligator Lizard catch

Abronia lizards are not semiaquatic reptiles or swamp dwellers, and they would not do well in a water-saturated environment in the long term. If you find mold or fungus growing in the enclosure, there is too much moisture and not enough ventilation. This condition should be avoided, because it is unhealthy for the lizards. The best conservation solution would be to establish wild reserves in their native habitat where they can be safeguarded from land-clearing practices, but there is also considerable conservation value in learning how to establish them successfully in a captive environment.

When abronia are kept under the correct conditions, they are quite hardy. Babies can be kept under the same conditions as the adults, though they are especially susceptible to problems if their enclosures are too warm. Pay close attention to calcium intake, too, as young lizards are growing. They do best if supplemented on calcium-coated crickets at every feeding for the first few months, combined with as much natural sunlight as possible given your particular location.


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Abronia lizards are live-bearers. Adults will typically breed in their second year, when they are full-sized and sexually mature. I have seen breeding activity as early as July and as late as November. Abronia are live-bearing lizards that produce one litter of seven to 14 babies a year.

Babies are typically born from March to June.

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My females have produced seven, 10, 11 and 13 babies at a time. Typical gestation period is six to eight months, and babies in a single litter are born over a period of one to three days. She will also noticeably gain weight. Perhaps the toughest part of keeping abronia is raising babies. They have all the same requirements as the adults, but they are much more susceptible to overheating and death from high temperatures. I have found that anything over 85 degrees is dangerous for them.

Young lizards also may battle each other over space, so it is best to keep them in small groups of two or three to an enclosure. However, keeping them that way did allow me to ensure that they were catching and eating their prey.

Finding and offering small insects is very important for the first three or four months, and this can be challenging. When catching your own insect prey, you must be sure you are not doing so in areas that may have been sprayed with chemicals that could be dangerous to your lizards. They are high in calcium, too, which is good at this stage. My best experience has been to keep the babies exactly as the adults: in planted screen enclosures measuring 20 inches long, 20 inches wide and 30 inches tall.

It is never a good idea to offer so many that they go uneaten. Observe your animals to determine how many insects they typically consume and stick with that amount. Feeding young abronia three times a week is fine. Supplement insects with calcium powder at every feeding and with vitamins once a week. There are approximately 28 Abronia species known to science.

Although not readily available in the pet trade, you can find them, on occasion, offered in small numbers through a captive-breeding program or at reptile expos in Europe. They are generally expensive, because they are so rare. Species that are good candidates for future breeding projects in collaboration with the Mexican and Guatemalan wildlife management agencies are: Abronia graminea, A.

Depending on who you ask, species that are under threat of extinction or are much more rare in wild populations and should be targeted for conservation efforts in situ by qualified institutions include A. In their native habitat, many of the local people believe abronia to be venomous, and in some cases, they have a great fear of these harmless lizards.

Unfortunately, because of this common misperception, locals often kill abronia on sight. When visiting Central America, I take every opportunity to educate the residents on the fact that abronia are not a potential health risk.

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Sometimes, I have actually allowed a lizard to bite me in front of them, just to show that there is no danger. If keeping abronia lizards outside, be wary of ants that can scout and mount surprise attacks, particularly against young lizards. I believe the primary killers of captive abronia are most likely excessive heat and the lack of a temperature gradient. You are currently logged in as. Photo by Jason Wagner A month-old, captive-bred Abronia taeniata sits on a bromeliad.

Photo by Jason Wagner The author often places his abronia lizard terraria outdoors during the day so that the lizards may benefit from natural sunlight. Photo by Jason Wagner Abronia are arboreal, and wild specimens are often found in trees. Photo by Jason Wagner Abronia are live-bearing lizards that produce one litter of seven to 14 babies a year.


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