Northern Chuckwalla (Sauromalus obesus)
A.K.A. Common Chuckwalla
Chuckwallas are medium-sized, grey-to-brown lizards. Some have orange-colored backs. They are very active with strong, robust physiques. They have excess skin and will inflate themselves when threatened. Males have hemipenal bulges and femoral pores and larger, broader heads than females. They will grow up to 16-22 inches long. These lizards can live up to 25 years if taken care of properly.
Habitat and Tank Requirements:
This species is native to the deserts Western North America and Mexico.
As a desert-dweller, Chuckwallas do well with sand or a sand/gravel mix substrate. Be sure to put enough live plants, rocks, and wood in the tank for your lizard to hide in. They like a rocky landscape in which they can get up high.
A single adult Chuckwalla needs a 30-50 gallon tank. Be sure not to have more than one male per tank, as they may fight. A screen cover is recommended for your tank, as it allows better airflow and heating.
Chuckwallas need 12-14 hours of light a day. A comfortable temperature for these lizards is around 80-88º F during the day with slightly lower nighttime temperatures. LEDs or other low-wattage light bulbs work best for maintaining these temperatures.
In addition to UV light, these lizards need a hotter basking area of about 100-110º F. You can use either a ceramic heat emitter or a reptile basking light for this. Heat rocks are not recommended as they can burn your animal.
Your tank should have a small, shallow bowl of water that is cleaned daily. This is for your lizard to drink from as well as wade in. Some lizards will not drink from bowls. In this case, a drip-system is recommended.
Chuckwallas are mainly herbivorous, but juveniles may feed on small crickets, fruit flies, mealworms, wax worms, and any other insect small enough for them to ingest. Most of your Chuckwalla’s diet should consist of dark leafy greens such as dandelions, mustard greens, kale, and collards. They can also eat flowers and fruit. Do not feed them fruits such as tomatoes and citrus; they may be too acidic for your animal. Light colored greens, such as lettuce, aren’t recommended because they have nearly no nutritional value. Do not use rhubarb, as it is toxic to Chuckwallas. It is recommended that food be dusted with calcium to prevent bone softening.
Allow your lizard time to become accustomed to its new home before handling them extensively. Handling them little by little over a period of time lets the animal get used to you and reduces stress.