Things You'll Need
Rocks and branches
Reptile vitamin and calcium supplements
The side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana) is a small reptile that lives in the American Southwest and northern Mexico. The adult lizard may grow to about 6 inches from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail. It is brownish gray, with a dark blotch on each side behind the foreleg. The side-blotched lizard is diurnal, and in some areas is active the entire year. Its small size and dark coloration allow the side-blotched lizard to warm up quickly, so it can become active sooner than many other reptiles. The side-blotched lizard eats insects and other small arthropods, and is in turn eaten by snakes and birds. Most hatchlings do not live to adulthood, and most adults die in the first year. The side-blotched lizard is such a prolific breeder, however, that it is not on any endangered list. Although side-blotched lizards are very territorial, they are easy to care for as pets.
House the side-blotched lizard in an aquarium with sand up to 3 inches deep. This lizard is a desert-dwelling creature, and likes to bury itself in sand at night. Provide branches and rocks for climbing, hiding and basking. Because the males are territorial and will fight, it’s best to keep only one male with several females. Several of the lizards can be kept in a 10-gallon tank.
Maintain a temperature of between 75 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit inside the aquarium. A heat lamp and heating pad are useful for simulating a desert environment. Provide 10 to 12 hours of light for the side-blotched lizard. Direct sunlight is best. If mating occurs, incubate the eggs at about 83 degrees Fahrenheit.
Feed the lizards small insects and larvae. Crickets and mealworms are fine, and are readily available from most pet stores. If you catch your own insects, make sure they are free from pesticides. Give the lizards vitamin and calcium supplements two or three time a week. Young lizards should get daily supplements. The side-blotched lizard gets its water from food, so a water bowl is not necessary.
Talmadge Walker is a former schoolteacher turned professional writer. He has a bachelor's degree from Birmingham-Southern College and a master's degree in special education from Elon University. Talmadge is a volunteer historic interpreter at the Bennett Place State Historic Site.