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Chuckwalla care sheet

Housing: a wooden vivarium of at least 46" in length

Heating: basking temperature of 100oF - 120oF, cool end of 90oF

UVB Lighting: desert strength 10%-12% UVB fluorescent tube during the day

Diet: Mostly vegetation and occasional protein from live insects

Decoration: dry substrates and decor so not to raise humidity levels

A chuckwalla is best kept in a large wooden vivarium. This is because wood is an excellent insulator of heat and so a wooden vivarium will make it easier to control the crucial temperatures required inside the habitat. Other enclosures such as glass terrariums are far too efficient at releasing heat making it difficult to get up to temperature and keep this temperature consistent throughout the year. The wooden vivarium should have good ventilation to help remove humidity and replenish the air in the enclosure.

The chuckwalla vivarium should be at least 1150mm (46") in length. There are 2 main reasons for this; firstly chuckwalla are not small lizards and can easily grow to 450mm in length. They require a proportionate amount of space to live happily. Secondly, the vivarium needs to have a sufficient length to allow for the creation of a temperature gradient. The enclosure needs to be intensely hot at one end, but have enough distance for the temperature to drop at the cool end.

 

During the day, chuckwallas require a very hot basking temperature. This is achieved by using clear spot bulbs at one end of the vivarium. To accomplish the required basking temperature of 110oF- 120oF we use 2x basking bulbs (60w in a large Vivexotic vivarium). A narrower basking area can be achieved by using one higher wattage bulb instead. Basking bulbs should be on for 10- 12 hours per day.

At night chuckwalla require a drop in temperature. The basking light should be switched off so the enclosure gets darker. chuckwalla typically do not require any additional night-time heating and are happy to drop down to the room temperature.

 

Chuckwallas are desert reptiles. Animals that actively bask in hot climates naturally receive a high dose of UVB from the sun. Their UVB tube should reflect that. A fluorescent UVB tube should be used inside the vivarium with a reflector so no UVB is wasted. The tube should be at least 10% UVB for desert species. There are 2 different types of fluorescent tube, T8 and T5. T5 tubes are the new technology providing double the range (24'') and lasting twice as long (12 months) so if possible we would recommend the upgrade.

These lizards require UVB in order to synthesise vitamin D3 inside their skin. The vitamin D3 helps the chuckwalla to absorb calcium which crucial for bone structure and growth. Without the UVB the chuckwalla may not be able to use the calcium in it's diet.

It is recommended that T8 bulbs are replaced every 6 months and T5 bulbs every 12 months.

 

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Chuckwallas should always be kept on a dry substrate so not to increase the humidity inside the vivarium.We keep chuckwallas on sand. Whilst any loose substrate has the potential to be accidentally swallowed we have found that with a good diet and the correct set up the chuckwalla is unlikely to ingest it's substrate.

Whilst chuckwallas are not an arboreal lizard, they do like to climb on top of things to survey their surroundings. The vivarium should be decorated with various pieces of wood or rock to enable them to do this.

The chuckwalla vivarium can be decorated with artificial plants for a more natural look. Desert plants look very effective and also provide further perches for the chuckwalla. Trailing plants are very good at disguising electrical wires and equipment, as well as providing cover for young lizards.

 

Chuckwallas are dry animals so they do not require any water in the vivarium. Chuckwallas are mainly herbivores. Good vegetables include: dandelion, clover, honeysuckle, leafy salads, watercress, curly kale, brussel tops, spring greens, coriander, parsley, rocket, carrot, parsnip, courgette, peppers and small amounts of non citric fruit. Ones to avoid include: cabbage, spinach, onion, tomato, buttercup, citric fruits and iceberg lettuce.

Calcium should be provided daily and dusted directly onto the Chuckwallas food. Vitamins may be also be added daily.

 

If you keep a male and female together, they may breed. You do not need to do anything to encourage this, providing they are healthy and the conditions are good, it will happen naturally. You need to consider whether you want this to happen. What will you do with the babies if you incubate the eggs?

A gravid female should have access to a nesting box to lay her eggs. The box should be large enough that she can fully turn-around inside it. We use a soil mix in there that is wet enough to clump but no more. We have found that Spider Life substrate is ideal.

The eggs should be incubated in an incubator at 84oF. We incubate our eggs in sealed boxes on a moisture rich substrate (such as Hatchrite) to trap the humidity around the eggs. After approximately 60 days the eggs will start to hatch, the first babies to emerge will encourage the rest of the eggs to hatch.

 
 

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