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Madagascan four-lined plated lizard Care Sheets
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Care Sheet for Plated Lizards

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 4.12    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 03/12/2003

Main Category:


Sub Category:

Plated Lizards

 Care Sheet Submitted By:


Years Experience:

5 to 10 Years


Madagascan four-lined plated lizard

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

Possibly other Madagascan plated lizard species in the genus Zonosaurus.

Sexing and Characteristics:

These lizards are very difficult to sex. Males may be a bit longer and thicker then the females. Males will have, on their back legs, pores that come out in a "fringe". The best way to describe it is like the teeth on a comb. The females may also have these but they are usually smaller.

Mostly Active During:


Substrate and Water Needs:

Four-lines need a deep substrate that they can burrow in (3-5 inches would be good). I use dirt on one side of the enclosure and play sand on the other side, they burrow in both sides about the same, so you could use either types or a mix. The dirt I use is from outside, if you use this make sure there is no chemicals in it. I would advise against the use of peat moss for these plateds, it can get extremely dusty and could cause respiratory problems.

A water dish that is big enough for them to fit inside is a good size.

Lighting and UVB:

These lizards like their lights bright and hot. I use 75 watt light bulbs with a reflector hood. At least two good basking sites on top of rocks would be good. UVB is not exactly neccesary, these lizards spend alot of time underground. As long as you supplement them enough you shouldn’t need to use UVB.

Temperatures and Humidity:

Their basking spots should be really hot! Around 150 is perfect. Make sure they have a cooler spot to get away from the heat though. I find that if they can burrow under a rock which is heated by a heating lamp, they will be very happy little guys. They do not need any heat during the night as long as the room stays in the mid 70s.

They have no special humidity requirements and do not even need extra humidity when they are shedding, they can shed quite easily without it. It may be beneficial to raise the humidity during the breeding season because the area of Madagascar that they are from (Tulear) gets more rainfall during this time.

Heating and Equipment:

One or two 75 watt heating bulbs with reflector hoods are sufficient.

Caging Provided:

When above ground these lizards use alot of space. I would recommend an enclosure of at least 2’x3’ for a pair. Height is not as important since these lizards do not climb much. You would probably be better off buying a custom made enclosure or making your own then buying that large of an aquarium. Lots of rocks should be in their tank, you do not really need to make hiding places above ground because if they want to hide they will just burrow. They seem to like to burrow under flat rocks heated by a heating lamp the most. They will also enjoy a fake plant in their cage to hide in or under, don’t waste your time by putting a live one in there they will shred it up pretty quick with their claws.



Description of Diet:

These lizards eat mostly insects with very little fruit. In fact they could probably survive without any plant matter in their diet at all. My plateds eat mostly crickets, mealworms (and their beetles), superworms and roaches. They will not take waxworms or pinkies in my experience. The only fruit I’ve been able to get them to eat is a small amount of mango and blue berries. They may also eat small reptiles in the wild as I’ve been able to get one to eat part of an anole. They do not eat very much at all, in fact my leopard gecko eats more then them!

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

It is important to supplement them very well if you do not use UVB lighting, every second or third feeding with calcium and vitamins.


Their dirt/sand will need to be completely replaced 2-3 times a year. They do not have a specific "bathroom spot" and will go all over the tank. They do not need to be fed very often, 1-2 times a week, but more should be fed during the breeding season. They burrow alot, and their hours that they are above ground is in the morning before noon.

Some Words on this Species:

These are very interesting and little-known lizards. They have beautiful patterns and interesting behavior. While they can be very jumpy at first it is possible to tame them down with regular handeling and you can train them to eat superworms from your hand. They are not big biters and only bite if you hold on to them, and mine have never musked. I hope if you get a pair that you try and breed them, since most (if not all) of these guys are wild caught.
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The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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