Exotis ISSN 2398-2985


Lizard behavior problems

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd, Molly Varga

Wiley Blackwell logo


  • Most undesirable or problem behaviors exhibited by lizards result directly from inappropriate husbandry, so clinical management is closely linked to providing appropriate nutrition and environmental conditions.
  • In all cases where there is a sudden change in behavior of an animal, underlying medical conditions must be ruled out, pain in particular.
  • The first steps in solving behavior problems in lizards include learning about the natural history of the species and how to apply that information to the captive environment.
  • Environmental stressors that may lead to undesirable behaviors include excessive or rough handling, inappropriate cage construction, inappropriate cage location (lack of visual security), inadequate shelter, improper thermal range, inappropriate heat sources, improper substrate, inappropriate cage accessories, improper light spectrum, improper diurnal and seasonal cycles, inappropriate prey or feed, multiple individuals in a single enclosure and overcrowding.
  • When the reptile’s enclosure is too large to bring into the examination room, it is essential to gather a thorough history and to view photos of the reptile’s environment. A form can be used to include all the pertinent questions about all of the various husbandry parameters Lizard husbandry.
  • It is useful, for example, to know at what locations the lizard spends its time relative to heat, light, humidity, and shelter.
  • Clients may then be counseled about the best cage setup including ranges and cycles of temperature, lighting and moisture.
  • Normal lizards will take advantage of a complex array of appropriately configured microenvironments throughout the day, so a captive environment must be redesigned if a lizard spends nearly all of its time in just one or two locations within the enclosure.


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Abnormal repetitive behavior

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Gibbons P M & Mohan-Gibbons H (2010) Lizards. In: Behavior of Exotic Pets. Ed: Tynes V V. Wiley-Blackwell. pp 44-56.
  • Animal Training. Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment Animal Training Program. Website: www.animaltraining.org.

Reproduced with permission from Valerie V Tynes: Behavior of Exotic Pets © 2010, published by John Wiley & Sons.