How to Tame a Lizard

Below are some detailed notes and guidelines regarding how to tame your lizard, including timelines, warnings, and special observations.

The Lizard Taming Conundrum

Lizards are undomesticated, which essentially means they're wild animals, regardless of whether they are captive bred or not. To complicate matters, certain lizard species appear to have a greater proclivity towards becoming tame, while others seem to be naturally more skittish and even aggressive.

The Bottom-Line on Taming Reptiles

First of all, forget
everything you've ever heard about how to tame a lizard. Literally. This means ignoring those well-meaning reptile enthusiasts who suggest handling your lizard regularly will eventually lead to a tame reptile, when in fact this is absolutely terrible advice. Leave your assumptions at the door, and then continue reading. The below instructions will go against your natural tendencies, but trust me, this method gets results. And in the end, isn't that what matters?

Forced handling of your lizard is actually
very detrimental to the taming process, and can in fact make the taming process much more difficult and lengthy, if not impossible. It understandably creates tremendous fear within your lizard, and it can display this in a variety of ways including biting, writhing, defacating, and even remaining motionless (something many reptile hobbyists incorrectly interpret as tame, when in fact the lizard is actually petrified).

The best method for taming a lizard is to simply give it some space. When you first unpack your lizard, place it in its cage and don't handle it. Resist the urge to interact with it. Over the ensuing weeks (or even months), here is your goal: to utilize food to create a bond between you and your lizard. This does not happen overnight, so be patient. The best things come to those who wait, right?

The Lizard Taming Method

Begin the rewarding process by placing food items like crickets, roaches, vegetables, and pinkies (this obviously depends on what should comprise your lizard's diet) into the cage, making sure the lizard sees that you're being non-aggressive. Continue this for a few weeks, and you should notice the lizard will probably perk-up when he sees you. You should still avoid any attempts to handle the lizard during this bond-building period.

Now, begin offering food items to your lizard with tongs, making sure not to make sudden movements. Don't force things—if the lizard isn't ready, he isn't ready.

After doing this for several days, you will likely notice the lizard actually seeking you out. This is because it is beginning to see you as advantageous to its survival.

In a matter of months (or perhaps
much sooner), the lizard will probably try climbing up your arm to explore the giant non-aggressive being who brings it food on a regular basis. Congratulations! You can now consider your lizard tame.

Lizard Taming Summary

The key is letting the
lizard determine how much it wants to interact with you, not the other way around. Interaction occurs on its terms, not your terms. This, coupled with no forced-handling (a bond destroyer), produces an environment very conducive to taming your lizard.

Reptile Taming Hints and Tips

Perhaps the factor
most overlooked in taming any particular lizard is its history. This is primarily because wild caught specimens have often been put under irreversible stress due to capture, as well as lengthy transportation from across the world. They have so many obstacles to overcome just to survive, that taming is absolutely last on the list of priorities. The solution: starting with captive-bred lizards makes the taming process many times easier, as they have a clean history and are usually in very good health.

Starting with hatchlings, or very young lizards, is also a
huge advantage when trying to tame. This is because it can be very difficult to alter established habits and predispositions in a mature lizard. It's not impossible, just more work.

The species of lizard also makes a difference when trying to tame. While some could argue to the contrary, there are certain lizards that just seem to be nasty right out of the egg (Nile monitors, for example). Others, such as the Sudan Plated lizard, often seem to practically
want to be tamed. I believe that any species of lizard can be tamed when done correctly, but I also believe some take more work than others.

Some of the easier species of lizard to tame, based on my personal experience, are
Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps), Savannah monitors (Varanus exanthematicus), Black Roughneck monitors (Varanus rudicollis), Horned lizards (Phrynosoma), Egyptian Uromastyx (Uromastyx aegyptica), Sudan Plated lizards (Gerrhosaurus major), Frilled Dragons (Chlamydosaurus kingii), Black Throat Monitors (Varanus albigularis ionidesi), Argentine Black and White Tegus (Tupinambis merianae), and Blue-tongued skinks (Tiliqua scincoides), to name a few.

Some of the more difficult species of lizard to tame, again based on my personal experience, are Nile monitors (
Varanus niloticus), Crocodile monitors (Varanus salvadorii), Cuban Knight anoles (Anolis equestris), Cuban Rock iguanas (Cyclura nubila), and perhaps chief among them the Tokay gecko (Gecko gecko). Truth be told, I have a lot of stories about aggressive Tokays and Niles.

Generally speaking, I have found that there is a mild correlation between the size of the lizard, and the amount of work it takes to tame the lizard. While some could again argue to the contrary, my anecdotal experiences tell another story. Small lizards (such as anoles, skinks, and swifts) seem noticeably more skittish and apprehensive, and it makes perfect sense as they have more natural predators than a large lizard. Even large lizards, when young and small, are often more aggressive and less trusting--everything is a potential predator in their eyes. Hatchling Savannah monitors, for example, often times bite first and ask questions later. As they grow, they appear to become more secure and less apprehensive, which again makes perfect sense.

One last trick, as a bonus to those of you who read through the entire lizard taming article, is to put on a new pair of socks, and wear them all day. Afterwards, place both socks inside the lizard's hide spot. Do this for 2-4 days or so, and you'll be surprised that the lizard, often times, will start associating your scent with security (ie. the hide spot). Now
that's thinking outside the box.

Copyright 2011 - BackwaterReptiles.com


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Why buy our reptiles?

We offer exotic reptiles for sale online at absolute rock-bottom prices, which means we make these fascinating animals available to you affordably as pets, or even to start your own reptile breeding project. We are reptile enthusiasts who believe captive breeding is integral to the future of the market, as it not only helps protect wild herp populations, but is an incredibly rewarding experience that tends to intensify one's passion for these amazing prehistoric creatures. Whether you buy a snake, lizard, turtle, tortoise, or alligator, we are driven to provide the highest quality live reptiles for sale.

Why buy our amphibians?

Amphibians are generally slower-moving than reptiles, and have uniquely moist skin which means they are never far from a source of water. Their life cycle is nothing short of incredible: they hatch in water, spend weeks or months in metamorphosis, then become either terrestrial or remain primarily water bound. Some salamanders even breathe through their skin! Our live amphibians for sale online include frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. Some are huge, some are small, and virtually all are amazing to observe in captivity. When you buy amphibians from us, you can rest assured they are fully guaranteed to arrive alive and in great condition. Why not start an amphibian breeding project today?

Why buy our reptile feeders?

Reptile and amphibian food should be varied, which is why we offer an array of feeder insects for sale. It's always far more cost effective to buy feeder insects in bulk, which often saves up to 70% off pet store prices. Plus, the feeders are delivered right to your doorstep. We offer live crickets for sale, as well as dubia roaches, mealworms, wax worms, nightcrawlers, and now even lizards, all at the lowest possible prices. Our reptile and amphibian feeder insects and lizards include a guarantee of live arrival.

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