Collared Lizard Care

Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris), also known as the Common Collared Lizard and the Oklahoma Collared Lizard.

Popularity: Make good pets, but it takes them a while to warm up to the owner.

Origin: North America

Native habitat: desert, rocky areas, grassland, prairie

Size: 8-14 inches
Lifespan: up to 10 years

Appearance: The Collared Lizard gets its name because of two black bands on its neck that look like a collar. Males are larger and more brightly colored than females. They have green or blue coloration with bands and small white spots. Females are paler and grayer. A male’s throat will also be brightly colored, often blue or green and sometimes orange. The belly is much lighter colored than the back.

Diet: mostly carnivorous

Defense Mechanisms: Can break off their tale if threatened. It grows back.

Misc characteristics: If two males are in the same cage, they will fight to the death to get a female. Collareds are able to run up to 16 miles per hour. They run on their hind legs at a 45-degree angle with tail and forelimbs raised like a T-Rex. They have strong jaws capable of biting through human skin. They won’t bite an owner after they get used to him.


Housing and Substrate

These active lizards need plenty of room to move about. Use at least a 40-gallon aquarium tank that is secure and supplies ventilation. Never house them together, as they are territorial and cannibalistic. Sanitized commercially available desert sand makes the best substrate, but you can also use alfalfa pellets, mulch, paper and indoor/outdoor carpeting.


It is crucial to furnish the tank with rocks for climbing and basking. Provide a basking area made of a larger rock or a rock pile with a plateau for the lizard to lie on. Make sure the rocks are stable so they won’t fall on the lizard. Also, include hide boxes or other places that provide them with a retreat. These can be in the cooler area of the tank.


Keep the tank hot and dry. Temperatures must range from the 75 to 90 degrees F. in the daytime and 73 to 85 at night. Create a basking area of 95-105 degrees using a heat lamp. Do not use “hot rocks,” which are harmful to the lizard. Use a combination of lamps to provide the heating, and use a thermometer in each area — warm, hot, and basking — to monitor the temperatures.


Provide UVB rays with a fluorescent bulb that also provides UVA rays and operates on a 10-12 hour on/off cycle. This light source should be within 12 inches of the animal. They also need 10-12 hours of darkness to complete the cycle. You can use an automatic timer on the lights to provide that.


Meat should constitute the majority of the Collared Lizard’s diet, but many will also eat shredded plant matter such as collard greens, mustard greens, kale and zucchini. Feed them commercially raised crickets, mealworms, earthworms, superworms and roaches, but never wild caught insects that may carry disease. Gut-load the insects 48-hours in advance, and dust them a vitamin and calcium supplement. Collared Lizards will also eat pinkie feeder mice, but only feed them mice occasionally as a treat. Remove uneaten food within three hours. Feed adults 3-4 times a week and juveniles daily. Offer adults 12-24 appropriately sized crickets per feeding and juveniles 6-12.


Some Collareds will not take water from a bowl until they become used to being in captivity, but they will take water droplets placed on rocks, and sometimes from an eyedropper or syringe. They will more likely recognize and take water offered in a shallow bowl containing small rocks.

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