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Keeping Butterfly Lizards and Plated Lizards

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 12 Dec 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Butterfly Lizards Lizards Plated Lizards

Both Butterfly Lizards and Plated Lizards are offered for sale from time to time, and can make interesting vivarium pets. Of the two, Plated Lizards are seen more frequently, but Butterfly Lizards are becoming more common in the exotic pet trade and they are gradually attracting a growing number of fans amongst lizard-keepers.

Butterfly Lizards

Butterfly Lizards are natives of Southern China, Indo-China and Sumatra, but they have not been much studied in their natural environment and little is known about their behaviour in the wild. Variously known as Butterfly Lizards, Butterfly Agamas, Smooth-Scaled Agamas or Butterfly Runners, the most frequently sold is Leiolepis belliana although a number of subspecies and other closely related species including L. b. rubritaeniata from Thailand and L. reevesii from parts of China and Vietnam are also sometimes seen.

These lizards are striking, having a greenish-grey body with yellow/cream lines and spots, and a distinctive pattern of black and orange markings along their flanks which does make them look a little like a butterfly. The “smooth-scaled” alternative name comes from the animal’s very small body scales.

Young Butterfly Lizards are more striped, with reddish tails, the adult markings developing as they grow. Fully grown these reptiles are around 20 inches (50cm) long, the tail accounting for around two thirds of the overall length.

Caring For Butterfly Lizards

In the wild, these active lizards live in arid areas, often digging deep burrows, so their vivarium needs to be large and covered with a deep layer of dry flooring material on its base. The temperature should be maintained around 30 degrees C (85F) and a basking area provided where it rises to 35C (95F) or even slightly higher; at night-time, drop the temperature to around 25C (77F).

Generally these animals will do well on a typical lizard diet of insects, including crickets, locusts and any amount of wild-caught garden bugs. Although these items make up the bulk of their food, Butterfly Lizards seem to be more omnivorous than most of their relatives and appreciate the occasional treat of some suitable fruit and vegetables – though how much plant material they eat seems to vary between individuals.

These animals also need ready access to clean water and to keep them in good health, a UVB tube should be used for around 10-12 hours of the day.

Plated Lizards

Plated Lizards are large, robust lizards from Africa, their common name coming from the armour-like plates of fused scales that cover their bodies, which lend them the general look of some kind of small dinosaur. The Sudan – also known as the Tawny or Great – Plated Lizard ( Gerrhosaurus major) is one of the most popular species kept as a pet, though others are also to be seen, including the Yellow-Throated Plated Lizard (G. flavigularis) and the Giant Plated Lizard (G. validus ). Growing to around 20-28 inches (50-70cm) in length, the greyish brown G. major is the most heavily plated of all its relatives, its squat body and broad tail – which makes up less than half the overall length – giving this reptile a distinctly prehistoric appearance. Docile and seemingly quite intelligent reptiles, Sudan Plated Lizards make good pets.

Caring For Plated Lizards

The needs of these creatures are very similar to the Butterfly Lizards and demand equally spacious surroundings – a 4ft x 2ft x 2ft (120x60x60cm) terrarium at least. Plated Lizards also like a deep, dry floor to burrow into – although they tend not to dig to such depth – with much the same temperature requirements, though these reptiles could happily take things a few degrees warmer.

Another omnivore, Plated Lizards will eat a range of live foods, the larger ones often enjoying the occasional “pinkie” – though make sure it’s fully thawed before feeding it to your pet – while fruit and vegetables again should feature on the menu.

Their container should also provide water and be equipped with UVB lighting.

Butterfly Lizards and Plated Lizards are both striking and attractive animals – though for entirely different reasons – which share much in common when it comes to their care in captivity. Whether you opt for the active and flashy Butterfly or the slower, mini-dinosaur look of the Plated, you’ll have an intriguing and rather unusual lizard to keep.

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Hi trying to locate a book for my grandson on the plated lizards for xmas any ideas Thanks
Len - 12-Dec-16 @ 5:07 PM
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