Water Dragon Care

Download care sheet (pdf)

Adult Size
Males up to 3 feet, females smaller.

Life Span
10+ years.

Male/Female Differences
Male adult water dragons are crested and have large heads and jowls. The neck on the male is darker colored. Females have larger femoral pores and are smaller.

Compatibility
Keep in groups of one male up to four females. Large rooms can accommodate more groups.

Origin
China, Thailand, into the Indo-Australian archipelago.

Climate
Warm tropical trees near water.

Day Cycle
Diurnal – active during the day.

Temperature
Mid 80’s during the day, slightly cooler at night. Provide higher heat – up to 90 degrees – above a basking spot.

Lighting
Provide UVB lighting for 8-12 hours per day to help utilize calcium, vitamin B, and vitamin D.

Humidity
Water dragons prefer 70-80 percent humidity. This can be maintained with daily misting, a waterfall, a large water dish, or automatic misting systems.

Habitat/Territory
These lizards spend their time on branches up in trees.

Substrate/Bedding
Reptile bark and shredded coconut fibers make ideal bedding in that they help hold humidity. Soil mixtures, although they can get dirty, can be planted with live plants. Reptile carpet can be used as it is easy to disinfect and prevents parasites.

Hiding Place/Den
Plenty of live or artificial plants and vines provide places for the animal to climb and hide.

Cage Type
The cage should be a minimum of twice the length of the animal – a 15 inch lizard needs at least an aquarium measuring 30 inches. Glass aquariums with screen lids are great homes as they help hold humidity. Larger and multiple animals can be housed in custom made enclosures. These active animals really need room to run and climb to prevent atrophy of the leg muscles, so provide as much space as possible.

Diet
Offer variety to these lizards. They are omnivores, so feed properly gut loaded crickets with an occasional waxworm or superworm. Larger water dragons can also be offered an occasional pinkie or fuzzie. Offer fresh vegetables, such as dark leafy greens and squashes, and fresh fruits, such as apples, bananas, strawberries, and melons. Continue to offer vegetables and fruits even if ignored the first few times.

Supplements
Feed crickets a proper diet to ensure adequate nutrition for you dragon. Dust crickets with small amounts of vitamin/calcium powder; lizards fed a properly balanced diet should need supplementation every week or two, but tiny amounts can be used every feeding.

Diet Precautions
Dietary imbalances and a type of gout can be caused by feeding a limited diet. Avoid over supplementing , especially with too much phosphorus. Do not feed too much fruit as this can cause diarrhea.

Feeding
Feed juveniles small crickets dusted with vitamin supplements every two days. Adult water dragons should be fed every three to four days. Offer smaller items, about one third of the animal’s head, instead of one large item.

Water Source
Provide fresh water daily. A large water dish will allow the dragon to soak and will help keep the humidity high.

Grooming
Proper humidity ensures proper shedding of skin – but too high can cause bacterial infections in the skin and mouth. Soaking daily in a large, tall sided container of water will benefit their skin and provide some much needed exercise.

Oral and Foot Care
Mouth rot from too much moisture. Toes can get caught on loose threads from the cage carpet. Providing climbing branches helps keep these lizard’s nails trimmed; they can also be trimmed by an experienced vet or here at Wilmette pet. Limbs can become atrophied if they are not given enough exercise.

Proper Handling
While water dragons do not enjoy a lot of handling, they are calm and relaxed in the hand for short periods. Keep nails trimmed to avoid scratches, and always wash hands after handling any reptile or amphibians. Use care when handling as their tail can break off.

Habitat Maintenance
Spot clean cage and replace water daily. Replace substrate when dirty, every few weeks.

Health Concerns
Bacterial infections can result from excessively high humidity and unsanitary conditions. Metabolic bone disease can result from improper diet, poor lighting. and lack of supplements. Water dragons can also suffer from internal and external parasites and atrophied leg muscles.

Red-Eared Slider Care

Download the care sheet (pdf)

Adult Size
Males range from 6 to 9 inches long while females range from 9 to 12 inches.

Lifespan
20-40 years with proper care.

Male/Female Differences
Females are larger and have a smaller tail. Males have longer, thicker tails and longer front claws with the cloaca closer to the tip of the tail.

Compatibility
Interacting with red-eared sliders and socialization are important in the development of a young turtle to eliminate behavioral problems later. These turtles are best kept alone because of the space, water quality issues, and aggression. If cohabitation is preferred make sure they have a large aquarium (75 gallons for two 5 inch turtles), a powerful internal and biological filter, appropriate lighting, and that both turtles are of equal size.

Origin
Southern United States.

Climate
Ponds, lakes, marshes, creeks, and streams.

Day Cycle
Diurnal (awake during the day)

Temperature
The proper temperature allows the turtle to regulate body temperature. As such the water temperature should be of 76-80°F, while their basking area should be 86-90°F.

Lighting
Appropriate lighting is important since wild red-eared sliders enjoy the full power of the sun; their captive habitat must attempt to replicate their natural environment as much as possible. The lighting should provide three things – UVB, UVA, and heat. UVB rays help the turtle by providing D3, a vitamin which allows for the metabolization and absorption of calcium. Heat and UVA rays help regulate the turtle’s feeding, activity, and mating. Lighting should be on for 10-12 hours a day with an emphasis on a consistent day/night cycle. Heat can also be provided with a submersible heater; make sure it is shatterproof since turtles tend to break them.

Humidity
Moderate; lightly mist the tank every couple of days to simulate rain.

Habitat/Territory
Red-eared sliders reside in areas with calm, fresh, and warm waters

Substrate/Bedding
River rocks, sand or no substrate, all make good choices for the aquatic part of the habitat. Small aquarium gravel poses a health risk as the turtle could easily mistake it for food and an impaction could occur. 70% of the habitat should consist of water and the rest should comprise of land. The water level should be no deeper than the total length of the turtle. For example, if the turtle is six inches, the maximum height of the water level is also six inches. Make sure the turtle can gain access to the land by using rocks that are not steep, like slate. Wood chips, river rocks, and sand are all good choices for the terrestrial area.

Hiding Place/Den
Non-toxic hiding places will provide a spot where the turtle can retreat to if they feel threatened or uncomfortable. This is especially important for younger turtles that may not always want attention.

Cage Type
Aquariums, plastic storage containers, and ponds all make excellent habitats. Since red-eared sliders can grow up to a foot, buy the biggest enclosure possible. A 36” x 13” enclosure is a good size to start with, and should house the turtle adequately for the next three years, but a fully-grown turtle should live in something no smaller than a 48” x 18” enclosure. Make sure the area is escape-proof.

Diet
A varied and balanced diet is important for the long-term health of the turtle. Simply put, an exclusive diet of commercial pellets will not meet the turtle’s dietary needs and may cause deficiencies, disorders, or even premature death. Their captive diet should be close match their natural diet which can include earthworms, small fish, shrimp, dandelion leaves, anacharis, duckweed, etc. Young turtles (1-5 years) should have a 60-40% ratio of protein and vegetable matter. Older turtles should have a 25-75% ratio of protein and vegetable matter.

Supplements
Calcium and phosphorus supplements are recommended since red-eared sliders often suffer from shell and bone inadequacies and the phosphorus will help to control their metabolism. Since these supplements are usually in powder form, simply sprinkle over their food.

Diet Precautions
Excess amount of protein in young turtles cause rapid, unhealthy growth that could lead to permanent shell deformity. Avoid a uniform diet. Inadequate amounts of calcium and phosphorus are also issues with feeding the same foods.

Feeding
Small amounts of vegetables and plants should be offered every day while the protein part of their diet – be it pellets, feeder fish, or worms – should be given every other day. Be careful not to overfeed.

Water Source
Red-eared sliders drink and absorb water while they swim so it is vital that a high water quality is maintained. 50% percent water changes should be performed every three days.

Grooming
Make sure the turtle is spending enough time out of the water because most illnesses aquatic turtles are prone to are due to their lack of drying off on land. Red-eared sliders should spend at least six hours on land daily.

Oral and Foot Care
The turtle’s nails may need to be clipped every couple of months depending on the level of their activity. Use cat safe nail clippers.

Proper Handling
Pick them up with both hands and make sure to support their body. Be careful to keep your fingers away from its face as it may mistake them for worms. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling a turtle with antibacterial soap.

Habitat Maintenance
Healthy turtles will relieve themselves a lot, so cleaning their habitat is very important. Turtles tend to defecate right after they eat, so it is advised to feed them in a small container filled with water. Large water changes should be done every three days to maintain clean water. The terrestrial part of the habitat should be cleaned out and replaced every week.

Health Concerns
Red-eared sliders are prone to metabolic bone disease/soft shell (MBD), dystocia (egg binding), shell rot, respiratory infections, fungal infections, ear infections, accidental drowning and obesity. MBD is a serious, but preventable condition brought on about by lack of calcium or vitamin D3. Appropriate UVB lighting and a differentiated diet will help counteract this disease. Dystocia affects female turtles when eggs are abnormally held within the body. Constructing a nesting area (consisting of moist soil, leaves, and sand) and meeting their calcium needs should prevent this anomaly. Shell rot develops when an injury to the shell becomes infected because of the turtle spending too much time within the water. Symptoms are discoloration, exposed tissue, and softening of the shell. Keeping the aquarium clean, antibiotics, and a lot of rest will help remedy this ailment. Improper temperatures cause respiratory infections, which may become fatal. Irregular swimming, breathing difficulties, and lethargy are all symptoms of infection. Consult your veterinarian immediately. Ear infections are caused by the poor water quality and the symptoms are erratic swimming and a swollen head. Consult your veterinarian immediately as he/she will need to prescribe antibiotics. Poor water quality and insufficient UVB lighting cause fungal infections. Cleaning the water, soaking the turtle in saltwater, and using sulfa blocks should help clear up the fungus. Aquatic turtles frequently drown by accidentally wedging themselves between the terrestrial part of the habitat. Lowering the water level and making sure the land mass is situated underneath rocks or bricks that are impenetrable, that is the turtle cannot jam itself between them. The causes for obesity are obvious, not enough exercise and bad nutrition. Feed less, focusing more on vegetables and make sure the turtle gets a decent amount of activity, be it by buying a bigger enclosure or letting them play outside under close supervision.

Mali Uromastyx Care

Mali Uromastyx

Mali Uromastyx

Download the care sheet (pdf)

Adult Size
Up to 16 inches

Life Span
About 35 years

Male/Female Differences
Females are smaller and less colorful. They are usually tan colored with black dorsal spots while males are bright yellow with black markings. Females also have shorter claws than males.

Compatibility
An Uromastyx is very territorial but may be kept in groups with only one male as long as there is adequate space.

Origin
The Mali Uromastyx comes from African regions.

Climate
It is necessary for the Mali Uromastyx to have a hot and dry climate.

Day Cycle
Diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and asleep during the night.

Temperature
During the day, it is ideal to keep the temperature between 85-110 degrees Fahrenheit. During the night, keep the temperature between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. There should also be a basking area provided by a heat lamp that heats the area 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lighting
Full spectrum UVB bulbs as well as a basking light are necessary for proper absorption of calcium that benefit heart and kidney functions.

Humidity
The humidity level in their environment should be maintained at 20%. This may be monitored by a hygrometer.

Habitat/Territory
Rocks and branches are great for the Uromastyx. Placing a rock underneath the basking lamp allows the Uromastyx to feel the heat from both the top of its body as well as from the belly. Although they love it hot, branches and enclosures kept at cooler areas are recommended to help regulate body temperature.

Substrate/Bedding
A reptile carpet should be used as a substrate. Also provide a burrowing box filled with calcium sand to promote instinctual burrowing.

Hiding Place/Den
They love to have hiding places in order to feel secure so provide decorative rocks, logs, and plants that are stationary in order to prevent injury.

Cage Type
For the Mali, the larger the tank the better. A 36” glass terrarium with a screen top is recommended for proper ventilation. The size of the terrarium may vary with the size of the Mali.

Diet
Being herbivores, Mali’s should be mostly fed with nutritious leafy greens and vegetables. Fruits should also be provided as an occasional supplement. Good supplemental fruits can include red berries, melons, and plums in small quantities.

Supplements
A calcium supplement dusted on the food is necessary.

Diet Precautions
Malis should not be overfed. As a supplement, they can occasionally be fed insects however too much may become hard to digest.

Feeding
Mali Uromastyx must be fed every day with about one to two tablespoons of food.

Water Source
Provide a shallow and small bowl of fresh water. This should be changed out everyday.

Grooming
A very light misting of the terrarium as well as of the Mali is sufficient for their grooming.

Oral and Foot Care
It is vital to wash food and water dishes to prevent mouth infections. Provide safe climbing areas for healthy muscle development.

Proper Handling
The Mali should be allotted bout 3 to 4 days in order to adjust to its new home. After it becomes comfortable, careful handling for short periods of time is fine.

Habitat Maintenance
A proper cleaning of the entire terrarium is recommended to keep the Mali healthy. The tank and the fixtures inside should be completely washed out and disinfected every two to three weeks. Spot clean as necessary.

Health Concerns
Malis may be susceptible to parasites if the terrarium is not often cleaned. Egg binding could be a result from poor calcium levels and or from the first infertile egg cycle. Mali’s may face kidney problems, which can be due from protein rich diets or poor calcium and phosphorous levels. Trim nails when necessary. Respiratory problems may be caused by low heat conditions and excess moisture.

Iguana Care

Iguana

Iguana

Download the care sheet (pdf)

Adult Size
Specimen’s lengths can range from 4-6 feet and their weight can be between 14-20 lbs.

Life Span
20+ years with proper care.

Male/Female Differences
Males have dorsal spines that are noticeably longer and thicker than females. Males also have highly developed femoral pores on the underside of their thighs which secrete a scent. Females are generally smaller in size and have slimmer heads and wider abdomens.

Compatibility
Young iguanas are very timid and will not like human contact. Do not be intimidated by its tail whips, hisses, scratches, or bites; take slow steps and in time the iguana will be successfully socialized. It is highly advised not to keep multiple iguanas together because of their sheer size, territorial grounds, and aggression.

Origin
North, Central, and South America.

Climate
Arboreal, tropical parts of the Americas.

Day Cycle
Diurnal (awake during the day)

Temperature
The appropriate temperature is critical in maintaining the iguana active and healthy. Keep the temperature at 80-95°F during the day and 75-80°F at night. Provide a temperature gradient across the habitat, with areas to bask and shade, so the iguana can regulate his/her own body heat

Lighting
Appropriate lighting is important since wild iguanas enjoy the full power of the sun; their captive habitat must attempt to replicate their natural environment as much as possible. The lighting should provide three things – UVB, UVA, and heat. UVB rays provide D3, a vitamin, which allows for the metabolization and absorption of calcium. Heat and UVA rays help regulate the iguana’s feeding, activity, and mating. Lighting should be on for 10-12 hours a day with an emphasis on a consistent day/night cycle. Be careful to place their heat source somewhere the iguana cannot reach it, because burns are a serious and common injury to reptiles.

Humidity
Humidity is essential to the general health of the iguana because these reptiles receive the majority of their water intake directly from the moisture in the air. Humidity within the enclosure should be maintained around 90-100% and monitored with a hygrometer.

Habitat/Territory
Green iguanas reside in the highest branches of arboreal and tropical areas.

Substrate/Bedding
Reptile carpet or anything that can be easily disinfected cleaned and dried. Bark chips can also be used, but must be changed a couple times a week, as bark can get dirty and moist very quickly. Bark chips may also harbor parasites and mites, which can be difficult to get rid of.

Hiding Place/Den
Non-toxic hiding places will provide a spot where an iguana can retreat to if it feels threatened or uncomfortable. This is especially important for young iguanas that may not always want attention. The best things you can add to their environment are animal safe branches, vines and plants. Iguanas are disposed to climbing high places and the vines and plants will replicate their natural surroundings nicely.

Cage Type
Aquariums can be used to house juvenile iguanas, but nothing less than a 30-gallon tank. As they grow, it would be cost effective to purchase a custom built cage designed to house a fully mature iguana. This means an enclosure at least 8 feet high, 8 feet long, and 4 feet wide. Many dedicated owners redesign a room specifically intended for their iguana given that they grow to be so large. Make sure the area is escape-proof.

Diet
A varied and balanced diet is important for the long-term health of the iguana. Make sure to offer a wide selection of vegetables and fruits so that they do not become selective and hooked on a few foods. Juveniles require a higher protein content and for this reason they should be fed commercial pellets as the staple until it is three years old. Their diet should consist of 90% greens and 10% fruits since iguanas are herbivorous. Healthy vegetables, fruits, and plants include mustard greens, collard greens, kale, green beans, peas, carrots, mangos, papayas, apples, bananas, melon, dandelion flowers, and hibiscus flowers. Most fruits are high in phosphorus and for this reason they should be given sparingly.

Supplements
Calcium supplements are recommended daily, given that young iguanas are prone to calcium deficiencies. Vitamin and mineral supplements should also be administered once a week. Since these supplements are usually in powder form, simply sprinkle over their food.

Diet Precautions
Try not to feed animal protein to iguanas because their bodies are not designed to deal with it. Doing so may cause rapid, unhealthy growth. Avoid a uniform diet. Inadequate and excessive amounts of calcium and phosphorus are also issues with feeding the same foods.

Feeding
Chop/grate all the ingredients into a size that can easily fit into the iguana’s mouth and then sprinkle calcium powder on top of it. Feed the iguana appropriate amounts twice a day. Be careful not to overfeed and make sure you are alternating both foods and supplements.

Water Source
Provide a constant supply of clean, fresh, and chlorine-free water. Change their water pan twice a day. Iguanas are capable swimmers and should be allowed to exercise. Fill up a kiddie pool or bathtub a couple times a week and drop them in. Keep a close eye on the iguana to make sure it is comfortable.
Grooming The habitat must have the correct humidity in order for the iguana to properly shed its skin. Allowing the iguana to swim in a bathtub or kiddie pool will also facilitate their shedding of old skin.
Oral and Foot Care The iguana’s nails may need to be clipped every month depending on the level of their activity. Use cat safe nail clippers.

Proper Handling
Juveniles should be picked up with both hands making sure to support their body. Adults should not be handled unless they are completely comfortable with you. Never grab an iguana by their tail, since it can easily break off. Always wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap after handling a lizard.

Habitat Maintenance
Spot clean their enclosure daily; iguanas tend to relieve themselves in the water provided, so change the water often. They can also be trained to go on newspaper and in time will go on nothing but paper. Thoroughly clean their habitat once a week with a mild bleach solution, rinse it clean, allow it to dry, and replace the substrate.

Health Concerns
Iguanas are prone to metabolic bone disease (MBD), respiratory infections, kidney disease, severe burns, mites, and intestinal impaction. MBD is a serious, but preventable condition brought on about by lack of calcium or vitamin D3. Symptoms include lethargy, soft bones, and swollen limbs. Appropriate UVB lighting and a differentiated diet will help counteract this disease. Improper temperatures cause respiratory infections, which may become fatal. Irregular swimming, breathing difficulties, and lethargy are all symptoms of infection. Consult your veterinarian immediately. Kidney disease is mainly caused by dehydration. Symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, and frequent drinking. Correctly adjusting the humidity, offering clean water, and weekly swims should cure the problem. Severe burns are a serious and common injury to reptiles because they often get too close to their heat source and do not realize they are in harm’s way. Iguanas are susceptible to mites and parasites if their habitat is not disinfected or cleaned often. Intestinal impaction can occur if the iguana eats his/her substrate, toys, or any other non-digestible items.