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Ophelia   ThesaurusRex   ThesaurusRex   ThesaurusRex   LizardLoverGirls  

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 Keep or release or...?

I went on a camping trip recently in Northern California, and when I was unpacking my luggage at home, found a small fence lizard that had stowed away in my sleeping bag. Ordinarily I’d just release the little guy, but the climate in Western Washington is much more chilly and damp than the desert area he came from, and I worry he wouldn’t survive.

Are Western Fence Lizards difficult to care for? I don’t mind getting a terrarium and reptile setup, as I do feel he’s now my responsibility. I’ve just never had a reptile before and don’t want to inadvertently do more harm than if I were just to let him go.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Should I just look for someone with more herp experience to take him?

10/14/13  01:18pm


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  Message To: Ophelia   In reference to Message Id: 2301682

 Keep or release or...?

I wasn’t aware there were deserts in Northern California!

Here’s the range map of fence lizards in Washington, in case you are living in one of those certain western regions:

If not, you could possibly be in a pickle. While they’re one of the more easier to manage lizards, fence lizards still take a bit of work to care for. And mostly money.

If you can, check around his ears and legs for ticks/mites. My first fence lizard got a good soak anyway, even though he was free of ticks. Put him in a shallow tub of warm water for about 5 minutes, make sure he can’t jump out or that the water isn’t too high (he’ll inflate himself anyway, but make sure he doesn’t need to do that).

Now for the terrarium bit. You’re gonna need a 10 gallon terrarium with a screen top, a heat light (I recommend the blue incandescents), and a 10.0 UVB light. I suggest you also buy fixtures specifically designed to handle reptile lights, too. If your windowsill can adequately heat up the terrarium without turning it into an oven (don’t let it exceed 100 degrees, a basking temperature of 95 is preferred), you can skip out on the heat light. That’s another thing, too -- get one of those thermometer strips to put in the terrarium. But by no means skip out on the UVB; all diurnal lizards need it for proper bone health.

For the actual contents, your fence lizard needs at the very least a hide, a basking spot, and a water bowl (Although they do drink sometimes, the bowl is mostly for humidity control. Keep it fresh so it won’t breed bacteria.) The hide is usually a cave of some sort, something to make them feel ’hidden’ and secure; most hides do this. The basking spot needs to be able to collect the most heat and light; a tall rock or branch will do. Depending on their size, you’ll want to put in some substrate for them to burrow in (I use an inch of Eco-Earth, coconut-based substrate. It is absorbent, doesn’t make fumes, and is non-toxic. Don’t use sand.) If he’s really tiny, wait a while before putting substrate in or he’ll take up a big gulp while feeding. I’d also highly recommend some other decor object like fake plants or additional rocks/branches, to make him feel more familiar with his surroundings, which are very, very alien right now. He may not eat until after a few days.

Once you have everything, go to the petstore and buy some small crickets. Try about 15 for your first time and see how many he eats. I would also recommend vitamin powder to dust the crickets with occasionally. Make sure the powder has no phosphorous -- arthropods have plenty of that already.

That’s pretty much it, most of the work is in setting up, though you do have to keep it clean. All in all it can be about $100-150 initially, and about $20 a year for replacing the UVB light annually, plus the cost of new crickets which isn’t really that much. Since you seem to have enough money to go camping in California I don’t suppose it’s too big a problem for you :). If you can’t, you could always look for someone who can care for him.

Let me know how it goes! Some few pointers, for your first time with a reptile:

- Don’t feed him anything wider than the space between his eyes.
- If feeding him bugs from outside, make sure there are no pesticides or that the bug is not a known disease carrier/venomous. If you don’t know what it is precisely, don’t risk it.
- Reptiles are very susceptible to chemicals. Many a turtle has died at the hands of the great and powerful Windex.
- You may have already known to wash after handling, but washing before handling is equally beneficial to your lizard.

10/15/13  02:57am


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  Message To: ThesaurusRex   In reference to Message Id: 2301694

 Keep or release or...?

Oh yes, and make sure your decor touches the bottom, so it won’t collapse on your lizard when they’re burrowing. It’s rare but some people have lost their lizards that way...

10/15/13  03:09am


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  Message To: ThesaurusRex   In reference to Message Id: 2301695

 Keep or release or...?

Ugh, sorry, one more. If you’re planning on bringing anything from outside (rock, branch, etc), you need to either boil it or wrap it in aluminum foil and bake at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. This kills any bacteria/viruses that may be on it. Outside, there are natural forces at work that keep their numbers down, but in a closed environment like a terrarium, pathogens can breed profusely.

This is also why using dirt from outside is a biiiiiiiig no-no (and possibly some types of potting soil, but the danger from them is mostly chemical).

10/15/13  04:23am


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  Message To: ThesaurusRex   In reference to Message Id: 2301698

 Keep or release or...?

Do not release ever!!!!! New state....your new pet

Names for boys

Names for girls

Please reply and what is its name...

06/15/14  06:24pm

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