Collared Lizard Complete Care Sheet

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Collared Lizard Complete Care Sheet 1

Crotaphytus collaris



General Information:

Collared lizards are medium sized lizards which reach lengths of up to 13 inches (males being larger than females). Their bodies are tan to green with many light spots and dark cross bands. They have a distinctive black collar that gives them their name and a whitish underbelly. Collared lizards make excellent pets. With daily handling they can become very tame and quite friendly. They are extremely active, and fun to watch. They’re also nicknamed “Mountain Boomer”. They are a very curios animal and like to explore their surroundings. My collared lizard enjoys sitting in my window while its open during the spring and summer time and watch all that is going on outside.


These colourful lizards mainly reside in the areas around Texas, Colorado, Kansas, California and the north of Mexico.


Generally these lizards grow to be 6 – 13 inches as adults. Males usually are 10-13 inches in length while the females tend to be smaller and around 6-9 inches in length.


Collared lizards are normally not aggressive lizards in captivity but are know to be rather persistent biters when caught in the wild. Collared lizards are a very personable lizard I guess you could say. I know that my collared enjoys my presence and loves to sit on my shoulder or chest. Collared lizards can be shy when first attained and will respond to any handling with a bite which, depending on the size of the animal, can inflict harm. The larger the lizard the harder the bite and the more likely it will cause some damage. My lizard has never attempted to bite me thankfully but he has opened his mouth at me a few times usually before he was warmed up.


Under captive conditions a Collared lizard can be expected to live up to 10 to 13 years.



Collared Lizard Complete Care Sheet 2

Collared lizards are mainly insectivores though they are known to eat lizards and small snakes. Crickets, mealworms, superworms, waxworms, butterworms, roaches, small spiders, moths and grasshoppers are great insects to feed to these guys. Give your adult Collareds 5-6 crickets daily and dust the crickets 2-3 times a week. For a treat or just something different you can purchase feeder green anoles and allow him to have one or two of them a week. To help fatten your lizard up you can feed your lizard one mouse pinky once a month. If you decide to go with feeding your lizard an anole or a pinky, your lizard may not want to eat the next day. To see if your lizard is hungry I suggest throwing 2-3 dusted crickets or your mealworms to see if he eats them, and if your lizard does then throw 4-5 more in until he loses interest in the food items. I like to include a variety in my Collareds diet and so here is how I feed my guy.

Feeding Schedule
Sunday-5-6 dusted crickets
Monday-Up to 15 mealworms or up to 6-7 superworms
Tuesday-Large grasshopper. My collared absolutely loves chasing a big ole grasshopper in his cage.
Wednesday-You could feed him either the anole or the pinky on this day I usually go with an anole. Generally I will feed him an anole on this day but once a month I will change this and substitute the pinky.
Thurday-5-6 Dusted crickets only if your collared shows he wants to eat.
Friday- Up to 15 mealworms or up to 6-7 superworms
Saturday-Large grasshopper

Feeding Hatchlings:

Hatchling Collared lizards should be given small crickets, usually pinheads are just fine. As your hatchlings grow then you can start giving them larger crickets. Regular mealworms and waxworms can be given, but with the waxworms don’t feed them more than two or three since they are a bit large for the smaller collareds. ALWAYS dust the crickets, mealworms, etc. when you feed your hatchlings.

Gutloading Insects:

It is recommended that you gutload all your insects to make sure that your lizard can get all the nutritional value it needs from its food. You can buy commercially sold items for gutloading your insects. You can also use dry cat food/dog food, fish food, cereals, oatmeal, orange slices, apple slices, raw sweet potato, or white potato slices , carrots, many veggies, and fruits Crickets are cannibals and will eat one another , so feed well and give them enough space. . Also after you have gutloaded and you are ready to feed your lizard…dusting them is also a must. Dusting hatchling/juvey prey items every day is recommended, and dusting adult prey items is recommended at least twice a week.

*YOUR lizards are only as healthy as what they eat, so keep your bugs Healthy!

Always make sure all crickets are out by bedtime, they will bite your lizards and torment them all night. They are cannibals, and eat each other.

*You can also feed your lizards in a separate Rubbermaid type container if you want, then return them to their cricket free tank.


Fresh water should always be available even if you do not witness your lizard actively drinking. A small, shallow water bowl is good since they do not regularly drink standing water. I have witnessed mine though drink from his water bowl on several occasions. I also mist mine using a spray bottle. I usually use the spray bottle in the mornings to mimic an early morning mist or fog. I will either spray my collared directly, this way he just licks the water off that is around his mouth, or I will spray water on the glass which he will then lick the water off the glass.

Minimum Required Space:

I currently have my collared in a forty gallon breeder. Most commonly used for one young collared lizard, you could use a 20 gallon long, but I personally would have to say a 30 – 40 gallon for one adult would be much better. With a pair normally a 40 gallon long would be ok but I would recommend a 50 gallon. Always remember with any lizard’s enclosure, Bigger is Better. Especially with these guys, as they love to run, and jump most of the day as they are very active

Hiding & basking:

Include a basking area close to the heat source. Also add a wood or rock hiding place in the cool area of the home. Both of these items are a must. The hide gives your lizards a place to feel secure and a place to sleep. A piece of wood or a small rock or other commercially sold items for a basking spot helps to ensure your lizard gets the right amount of heat for proper digestion and other basic functions


Keep the humidity level at or near 35%.

• Day – Maintain a daytime temperature between 85-95º F
• Basking – Provide a basking spot lamp to create a localized basking area of 110-120º F
• Night – Maintain a nighttime temperature between 60-75º FMaintain a nighttime temperature between 65-75º F (use a ceramic heat emitter if necessary)
• Place a thermometer at each end of the home to monitor temperatures


Use a daytime UVA/UVB fluorescent bulb for approximately 12 hours of light per day to help your pet process calcium. I use a 75 Watt Exoterra Sun Glo Tight Beam incandescent bulb for the source of heat. I use a ESU Reptile Mini-Reptile UV Aqualight w/2 9-watt Desert 7% UVB bulbs for the UVB lighting that is required. I am going to upgrade from the 75 Watt to possibly a 100 Watt.


I use T-rex’s Bone Aid Calci sand as the base substrate for my collared lizards cage. It is recommended that you not have just the sand as accidental impactation can occur. You can add natural stones in to help create a somewhat naturalistic look and feel for your lizard. Or there are commercially sold items that you can purchase that are great cage furnishings. Be sure to keep waste out and clean out waste daily.


I got this off a website I frequent

This is a question asked by many of new lizard owners, so I have decided to address this topic briefly.

Shedding occurs in lizards when they outgrow their old skin and it is renewed. The old either comes off in pieces with some lizards or as one whole piece in others. You can usually tell after seeing them shed a few times, when it is about to happen again.
The skin appears to get filmy or dull looking prior, and you may even see some dry, bubbling looking skin about to peel. Also lizards with movable eyelids puff out their eyes a couple days before their heads start to shed. This looks freaky to the viewer, like their eyes are bulging out of their heads. (They sometimes do that same thing if some sort of small object is in their eye.)

How often they shed will vary with age and size of the lizard. A hatchling may shed every few weeks while growing so quickly. A juvey, a few months or older will still shed frequently, at least once every couple months. And so down the line, some of my adults may shed twice during the warmer months, so I would say at least twice a season.

Some have asked if they can help their collared lizard when shedding.
NEVER pull the skin off, it can lead to infection and harm your lizard, as the skin may still be attached. What you can do is mist your collared down with a spray bottle of luke warm water. They may not like it, but it does really help. I know that my guy goes crazy when I spray him like this. He does not enjoy it at all. You can also allow your lizard to soak in a shallow water container filled with warm water.


Again this is from

Is the cooling of a reptile in captivity, occurs by lowering its temperature for about 2 to 4 months, to simulate conditions during the winter season in the wild. This is not like hibernation of mammals. Brumation triggers the physical changes that stimulate egg production in females, sperm production in males, and the breeding response necessary for successful captive propagation. Some reptiles will go into a brumation on their own, and decide to stop eating and retire to their place of resting. But some have to be forced into this state, mostly for breeding purposes. So we as owners have to set the atmosphere they need to brumate properly, by slowly decreasing food intake, then stopping food altogether.
Pick a time that you have planned for brumation, lets just say you picked the end of November. Begin by decreasing food intake early in the month. By the end of the month stop food altogether. Someone recently asked me WHY, do you stop food. Well reptiles need heat to digest their food properly, since all heat will be soon turned off, you want the gut empty of all food contents. Do not want rotting food in the gut. Can kill your lizard. Approx. 7 – 10 days after food is completely stopped, turn OFF (HEAT) but continue to turn on the UVB strip light on for at least another week or so. Then, finally turn off UVB. They can either stay in their own tank or you may have to have them in a plastic type container in a place that will be 50- 55 degrees, for however long you decide to let them rest. Make sure you HYDRATE them (give water with dropper) at least once a week. I always worry, and give it twice a week. Let it drip on their nose, or some will lick the drips.
For those people who wonder how your brumating lizard will look, they can either be asleep, or just appear to be in a fog, or daze. Though their metabolism has slowed considerably, they can perform various levels of activity such as drinking and moving about. Now when it is time to wake them, reverse your steps, first turn ON UVB strip light for a week or so, then turn ON (HEAT) for another week, then begin to FEED your lizard/s again.

Sexing your lizards

Collared Lizard Complete Care Sheet 3

Male Collared Lizard Vent

Collared Lizard Complete Care Sheet 4

Female Collared Lizard Vent


This oviparous species lays 1-12 (average 4-6) in the spring/early summer, hatching after about 10 week’s incubation. After a while usually a couple weeks or so, after waking the female will ovulate, and show a brilliant orange color called her Blush color. This color is a kind of message to the male so to speak, she’s ready to mate. The amount and intensity of orange differs in each female. Some show small splotches, here and there, some look like they have been painted with orange neon paint. The male will head bob, and do pushups, and drag his pelvis in circles when he’s in the breeding frame of mind. He will then mount the female and grab her by the neck and try and mate. She will either accept his advances and they will mate, or she will not accept him, and run, or roll on her back, any means to reject him. She will usually accept his advances when ovulating. Sometimes, the male will become overly aggressive in his pursuit and can harm the female. Keep an eye on things if possible. Make sure at this time your female has been well supplemented with extra calcium. Usually the female will begin to get heavy. You may even begin to see bulges in her sides. In about 22 to 24 days she will lay if all goes well. At this time you should provide a damp area in a corner or a nesting box with dampened sand for her to deposit her eggs when ready. About 3 days before she is ready to lay, she will begin to dig, and dig and dig, hopefully in her nesting box. But sometimes they will dig where they choose. Just make sure the area is dampened.

Egg Care:

Now that your female has laid her eggs they must be taken out of the tank. This in my opinion is best done after taking her out for a few minutes, so she can not see you take them. She just went to a lot of trouble piling sand on them to hide them.

After she is removed and safely placed elsewhere for a few minutes, you must carefully look for, and removed the eggs. Pick the eggs up the way they were laid if possible, and place them the same way in a small plastic container (like a glade sandwich container) or a deli cup… anyway there should be about 3 inches of dampened vermiculite or perlite in your container. Make a little impression for each egg and sit it securely in there, and place in incubator.

Incubator temps should not exceed 90 or go below low 70’s a nice mid range of 83 degrees is often used. The eggs when fertile should have a pinkish oval appearing top side.

The eggs will hatch in 40 – 60 days. The hatchlings can stay in the incubator for a few hours to a couple days. When you see that they are getting around well in there you can put them in a nice set up of their own, with paper towels.

DO NOT put hatchlings in with larger collareds, they will be EATEN. Do not attempt to put any baby or juvie lizard with adults until they get some size. About 4 months or so, then observe, make sure they are not being bullied. Do not be alarmed when they do not eat right away this is quite normal. They will usually eat within the first week to 10 days. DO provide shallow water for them, or use eye dropper as needed for water or they will dehydrate fast. When they do begin to eat use small crickets to start, by one month old they will nail an adult size cricket.

Resources: was my main source and is used widely throughout the care sheet in the shedding, brumation, breeding, and egg care sections.

Suggested Reading:

Reptiles Magazine April 2006

Other Useful Websites

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