Species group: Chuckwallas
Other common names: Chukawalla
Scientific name: Sauromalus obesus
Chuckwallas are native to the arid regions of north Mexico, southwest United States, and the coastal areas but most specifically in the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts and the Great Basin. They inhabit rocky hillsides, lava flows, rocky outcrops, and dry land where drought-resistant plants grow.
Appearance / health:
Chuckwallas are large lizards that grow up to 16 inches in length. They are robust, with flattened wide bellies and thick blunt tails. The skin has a granular texture and loosely folded on the neck and sides of the body. Males have body colors ranging from light gray to yellow-orange and reddish pink. Head and limbs are usually black. They also have the characteristic femoral pores on the thighs. Females have spotted markings and light and dark bands of yellow or gray.
Behavior / temperament:
When food is abundant, and several males are present, a dominant Chuckwalla will claim his territory (by changing colors, head bobbing and opening the mouth). Territoriality is conditional and mostly ignored during lean times. Juvenile Chuckwallas acclimate to captive environments easier than adults. When threatened, a Chuckwalla runs towards rocky crags and sneaks into a tight crevice and inhales to inflate its body and wedge itself so that predators can’t pull it out.
The large Chuckwalla is best kept in a large dry desert-type cage with rocky formations that are stable enough for the lizard to climb, bask, or dig under for hiding. A 2- to 4-inch substrate of sand and gravel would be ideal for their burrowing nature. A small water bowl should be provided for drinking. Day temp: 86-100F; night temp: 64-68F; basking temp: 104F; lighting: 14 hours, UV radiation required.
Chuckwallas are best kept in pairs or groups with only one male. A good misting in the morning, once or twice a week is recommended. Under ideal conditions, Chuckwallas may have a lifespan of about 25 years.
Chuckwallas are primarily herbivorous, so they can be fed flowers (dandelions, brittlebush), leaves (herbs, lettuce), soft fruit (berries, grapes, bananas), and chopped vegetables (celery, carrots). Sometimes they will feed on insects (grasshoppers) and worms. Mineral supplements are recommended.
Mating season is from April to July. Clutches of 5-12 eggs are laid in June to August. Eggs hatch in September to November.
experienced keeper, large lizard, interesting qualities
bite, wild specimens, fairly large vivarium, special heat lamp, natural digging behavior
bask, dark damp places, dark leafy greens, puffing, extreme heat
"I'm not sure what it was that attracted me to this lizard. I remember going to the pet store time and time again and thinking, "wow, there's something I will never, never own" and to be honest I also wasn't sure why. I guess it could be due to the somewhat bland coloration, that being black and off red. But for whatever reason, one day I caved. Would I say that this was the best decision I ever made? No, decidedly not, but that doesn't mean it was a bad one.<br><br> In truth, these guys fall under the category of, not bad, but not great. You may differ from me though, so don't be disparaged. They do have a neat facial structure, and I was impressed to find out they enjoy being in craggy, rocks that are closer to active lava flows. Not sure what about this I found cool, I suppose it reminded me of a dragon in a way. I always enjoyed the thought of having a [et dinosaur when I was a kid, I then transitioned to fantasizing about the potential of owning a dragon. This obsession was transformed to owning reptiles, and as a result this little guy has made his way into my home. <br><br> Now, in terms of appearance, I would say that they do have some really interesting qualities, specifically their resemblance to komodo dragons. It is not a huge one, but close enough that they have found a way into my heart. <br><br> So i the end i would say that it is one of the parts of my collection that totally has earned it's place in my home. Although I don't know for certain why, I would say that I cannot imagine not owning one after so long. So perhaps you'd like to pick on up for yourself.."
From ManoftheNorth Apr 20 2014 3:41PM
"I've kept several hundred lizard species in zoos and at home, but these personable guys remain one of my favorites. Always always to feed, they greet me as I enter the room and eat from my hand. Pairs get along well, and breeding is possible, but not common. They do need a very hot basking spot plus cooler areas, so a very large terrarium is necessary..otherwise, the entire tank warms to the basking temp. Lots of UVB is essential for these desert dwellers. Some of mine have lived into their early 20's, so plan ahead!."
From findiviglio Jul 13 2014 7:15PM