The short term rehabilitation requirements for Australian lizards. Requires understanding of what species of lizard you have. There are tremendous variables involved, when making a suitable housing. Is the intention to house indoors or outdoors? Large varanids will be difficult and prone to stress indoors. Likewise the poor weather elements of a wet season or winter could be detrimental if housed outdoors for injured dragons or large skinks.
Types of lizards
Agamidae – Dragons
Small – medium sized lizards, typically diurnal and heliothermic (sun loving). Common species bearded dragons, Frilled lizards, Jacky dragons, Netted dragons.
Gekkonidae – Geckos
Small lizards, velvet skin, capable of tail autonomy. Nocturnal and thigmothermic. thick tailed geckos, leaf tailed geckos, Binoes gecko and gehyra species.
Pygopodidae – legless Lizards (flap – footed lizards)
nocturnal and range from 30mm to 400mm. this group is harder to know due to its similarity to snakes. Often killed or injured. Burton’ legless Lizard and Scaly foots the most commonly kept species.
Scincidae – Skinks
Large diversity of species, habits and sizes. This group can be found from urban gardens across to the harshest desert. 40mm – 600mm in length, all types from sun loving blue tongues to nocturnal pink tongued skinks.
Varanidae – monitor lizards or goannas
This large to small sized lizards are perhaps the most spectacular. From the giant Perenty 3m body in the Australian arid regions to the pygmy monitor that forages in the Mulga trees. Can be diffiult to keep, highly intelligent and wonderful escape artists.
This is critical to have accurately and strategically placed. Reptiles do require heating but overheating (hyperthermia) is common. Stress, poor behaviour and recuperation will often occur when thermoregulation is poorly provided.
Creating a haven
Lizards do like to roam, climb branches if they are arboreal. Shelter under fixed and secure hides. So where do you begin? Shelter is a great place. I have noticed that reptiles not given an enclosed private hide, stress easier and may be prone to other issues. Shelter sites now are widely available from a cardboard box to elaborate and pleasing resin mould shelter caves. Whatever your budget. Shelter sites should be well placed away from heat and where possible multiple sites placed especially if there are more than one lizard residing. Lizards often like their own hide. Be wary of using natural bush rock or other heavy items as they often may collapse.
Ultra Violet or Natural Spectrum Lighting
Now we are getting somewhere. This topic is perhaps the most difficult to appreciate both for beginners and those not famlar with reptiles. Reptiles especially species that are diurnal and heliothermic. Require provision of natural sunlight or artificial lighting can provide correct amounts of daylight radiation UVA and UVB. The range between 285 – 315 nm. Sound simple! Lizards in particular juveniles require not only UVA/UVB but combine this with the ration of calcium and phosphorus to enable proper bone development. Adults need this lighting to continue good metabolism and behave naturally.
Types of globes that provide lighting
The fun stuff. Feeding reptiles is very rewarding due to the animated responses of some reptiles. Omnivorous lizards will eat flowers, leaves and vegetables quite happily. If carnivorous then prey items need to be sourced. Crickets, cockroaches, meal-worms, baby mice or rats, adult mice and rats, chicks/ small birds sometimes. The good news is that nearly all reptiles will take dead food. Live feeding is a real no no. Both in animal welfare and safety to the rehabilitated reptile.
Feeding can be done by placing food inside containers or if by hand using tongs or tweezers. But avoid doing it like below! All reptiles should not be fed till they have been stabilised for several days. In the rehab situation when reptiles some into care often due to road, domestic pet trauma. Therefore its essential to address the cause type and any injuries associated before feeding.