Also known as Eastern Collared Lizard, Oklahoma Collared Lizard, and Mountain Boomer
The Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris) is native to Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Kansas and Oklahoma. They can live 5 - 8 Years and grow to 8 - 15 Inches. Their conservation statis is Least Concern (LC).
The Basics for Collared Lizards
- 36"W x 18"D x 18"H
- Gravel, beech wood chips or sand*
- UVB & Basking Light
- 85 - 120 ° F
- Large crickets, wax worms cockroaches, moths
The common collared lizard is the state lizard for Oklahoma in the United States. It is, however, found in several other states in the US as well as parts of Mexico. This species comes equipped with powerful jaws and hind legs. So much so, in fact, that they can actually run on just their hind legs. The top recorded speed of a collared lizard is 16 MPH.
Males are a mixture of colors of bright blue, green, brown and yellow. The distinct stripes on their neck are what gives them the name “collared” lizard. In an environment where their colors stick out, you would think they would make for an easy target for their predators but given their incredible speed, it is difficult for them to catch the collared lizard. It also makes them a formidable predator themselves, feeding on insects and even other lizards.
Collared Lizard Care Sheet
No doubt one of the reasons keepers want collared lizards as pets is because of their incredible colors, especially with the males. Unless attempted to breed them, most people will opt for owning a male for its vibrant colors. Male collared lizards are territorial, though. They should not be kept together or it will result in fighting, likely with one of your lizards dying.
They certainly do make wonderful pets and their popularity is growing. While their overall length is small compared to some species, they do require a lot of room. As mentioned above, they’re fast and like to run.
Hides are another item you should include in your collared lizard’s tank. This can be accomplished by using the typical, correctly sized, hiding rocks found in pet stores and online. Or perhaps you can build a sturdy cave from flat rocks. Another consideration is to provide fake plants that provide shade. Collared lizards need somewhere to hide to escape the direct sunlight.
A tank or terrarium at least 3 feet in length, 18 inches in depth and 18 inches in height is a minimum. When caging collared lizard, the bigger the cage, the better.
A large glass tank or terrarium with a screen lid will work well. Collared lizards do enjoy hot climates, so a basking light is necessary. An aquarium will provide better heat retention but a terrarium will provide better ventilation.
Temperature & Lighting
As previously mentioned, this species is comfortable in hot climates where basking rocks are readily available. Collared lizards require heat and UVB light for optimum health and thus, both should be provided. The recommended UVB light is one with 10% – 12% UV, which is a 10.0 UVB bulb or the 12% equivalent mostly found in pet stores outside the united state. Most keepers use a UV strip bulb that spans the entire length of their cage.
Since most UVB lights don’t produce heat, an additional heating bulb is required. It should be placed at one side of their cage and provide a basking area between 105 – 120 ° F. Since the basking light is at one side of the cage, the opposite side of the cage will be much cooler. This creates a nice temperature gradient that allows your collared lizard a wide range of temperatures to lay in. The cool side of the cage should be between 85 – 90 ° F.
I recommended getting a thermometer and placing it on the cool side of the cage. Also, pick up a thermostat to help regulate the temperature inside the cage, making sure the heat ranges from 85 (on the cool side) to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (on the warm, basking side). Once nighttime rolls around, the temperature should drop roughly 15 degrees and their day & night cycle should be 12 hours of each.
- UV light bulb with 10% – 12% UV light.
- A heat lamp should provide a basking area between 105 – 120.
- The cool side of the cage should be no lower than 85 degrees.
- Use temperature reads and a thermostat to keep the conditions right.
- Nighttime temperatures can drop no more than 15 degrees.
- Provide a 12 hour day and night cycle.
By following these steps, you’ll ensure your collared lizard is warm & healthy.
Substrate for collared lizards, in their natural habitat, is a mixture of sand, small rocks or gravel, and soil. You can mimic this as you see fit but be aware of these common problems. Particulate substrates are usually avoided, even with brands designed for reptile usage. These substrates can accidentally be consumed by your pet and build up in their gut. This is called impaction and it can be fatal.
Having said that, with this species, most keepers report this is only true for hatchlings and young collared lizards. General play sand is used quite often and layered up to 2 inches across the entire cage. This provides a burrowing area and more natural environment.
If your collared lizard is young, I recommend using a paper towel, small gravel or beech wood chips as a substrate, at least until they’ve fully matured.
Other substrates include small gravel and beech wood chips.
Feeding your collared lizard a variety of insects is a great way to keep them healthy. Insects such as large crickets, wax worms, cockroaches, and moths are perfectly acceptable. You may have to experiment with your collared lizard as they’re known to be picky eaters. Should you find they’re not eating a certain food, test out a different one.
Only feed your lizard what they will consume before their nighttime cycle begins. Leaving crickets in their enclosure is discouraged because crickets can team up and bite your lizards. This can cause irritation and if left this way for an extended length of time, promote poor health in your collared lizard.
Gutloading and dusting live insects with calcium powder and vitamins are required to maintain your lizard’s overall health. Dust the insects at least twice each week before feeding.
Its recommended you keep a clean dish of water in their cage at all time. They probably won’t drink from the bowl at first but over time they will learn to use it. Some keepers drip water on the noses of their lizard while others mist the tops of their basking rocks and plant decorations.
Most of their hydration, however, will come from the food they consume. Be mindful to feed them healthy insects and occasionally drip water on their noses. They will eventually lick the water off.
A collared lizard’s natural habitat is hot and dry. They obtain water from the insects they consume as well as licking water droplets from plants and other vegetation. If the humidity in their cage is too high, collared lizards have been known to develop respiratory problems.
Handling Collared Lizards
In the opening paragraphs of this care sheet, I mentioned how fast collared lizards run. They also don’t like to be held. The restriction of movement causes stress and thus, a collared lizard is not an ideal pet for handling. If, however, you intend to keep them as a display pet, they are one of the most enjoyable species of lizards to watch in captivity.
The information found on this page was researched and collected from a variety of sources including: