Blue Collared Lizard Care
Also known as the Eastern Collared Lizard, Oklahoma Collared Lizard, and Mountain Boomer, this is a medium sized lizard that is commonly found across the southern United States and northern Mexico. There are nine species within the group, each with several subspecies, all of which are insectivorous arid habitat specialists. Colour varies from a greyish background with a spotted pattern to the bright greens and blues of certain regional variations, all of which have the two black markings across the back of the neck that gives them their name. Adult males have bright blue scales as well as tan, olive, brown, green and yellow scales. Females are smaller and less colorful than the males, and both sexes have a pale belly.
They are primarily insectivorous, but are not averse to preying on smaller lizards – and they are fast enough to catch them! Collared lizards are one of the small number of lizard species that can run on their hind legs, and are one of the fastest species to be found in these areas with a recorded top speed of 16mph.
Ranging from 20 to 30cm including tail the collared lizard has long legs and tail, a robust body and a large head complete with powerful jaws. They have evolved to chase and catch different types of prey, with the jaw strength to pin and devour even quite large prey items. As with most territorial species, males should be kept either alone or with several females; if kept in pairs the single female will be subject to a great deal of harassment from the male and may eventually succumb to stress, but more than one female will ensure that no one individual is overly bullied.
For this species a substantial temperature gradient is required, with an ambient temperature of 35ºc in the warm end, 30ºc in the cool end with a basking spot of up to 45ºc. At night the temperature can go as low as 20ºc, which does mean that in most modern centrally heated homes night time heating will not be needed.
They require a good level of UVB, which is best provided by a 10% or 12% T5 UV strip light, and a halogen basking bulb to give as wide a possible area to bask in. UV bulbs should be replaced every 6 to 12 months, depending on the brand. They like an arid habitat, and will appreciate a brief spray in the morning to replicate dew; obviously, a small water bowl should always be provided. They do quite like to dig, so a soil based substrate is an excellent choice for this species.
Although they do not climb like chameleons, they do need branches and rocks within their home in order to give them something to scramble over. Give youngsters plenty of cover; lots of plants – real or plastic – will do the job very well. Live plants might suffer as the lizard grows, but they are fine to use with babies. As they are such an active species it’s necessary to give them plenty of space; a 120 x 60 x 60cm vivarium (4 x 2 x 2’) should really be seen as a minimum for a single male, with a trio best kept in a 183 x 61 x 61cm vivarium (6 x 2 x 2’) equipped with more than one basking area and plenty of rocky decor. They will use all of the space they are given, often at speed, and are usually not happy to be handled.
Offer as wide a range as possible of insect food, and make sure that every feed is dusted with a good quality calcium or multivitamin/multimineral supplement. They are happy to take locusts, crickets, roaches, mealworms, calci-worms, waxworms and wax moths, all of which should be gut loaded and supplemented.