Acquired: Pet store
Posted Mar 31, 2015
A friend who worked at a reptile pet store turned me on to Sudan Plated Lizards. She introduced me to one telling me that they were incredibly easy to care for as well as being incredibly tame. She opened a cage that had them on display and pulled one out to hand to me. I held this lizard in my hand and turned to look into her eyes to see what would happen. The lizard simply extended her tongue to sniff me and then looked to the side almost as if to say “OK I know you now. What’s next?” I held her for a while and walked around the store as my friend and I talked about how to care for them. The entire time the lizard only moved to better hold onto my shirt and hang on my chest as if she were a tie. I decided to take her home and purchased her. She rode home with in the car and continued her impersonation of a tie. This was one of a few interesting impersonations she would do.
I set up her terrarium with lots of sand that she could dig through, a nice log tunnel, water dish, and later on, a small box that she could set up as a nesting box hidden from the world. She would happily dig in the dirt occasionally doing so to gain my attention when she figured it was time to have some attention. Whenever I would pull her out of her home, she would happily stay with me or wander around but always come to stay near me. It could have been the need for body heat like a hot rock, but it seemed more to me than simply heat. If I held her in my hand, she would do a trick by sticking her front legs out as straight as she could when I would say “super-lizard.” She frequently would move into a resting position with her legs held back to rest and close her eyes while resting in my hands or on my leg.
The care of her cage was possibly the simplest of all the lizards I have ever owned. She selected a corner of her cage and would only use that area. I would simply have to scoop the area and then after a time replace the sand in her cage with lizard approved sand. She did not really care for water much except for the ability to drink some as desired. Her only bad habit was the occasional dumping of dirt or her food in the water dish. Her hot rock and black light were easy to get and set up. She wouldn’t use the hot rock often and seemed to prefer to simply lay in the sand or bury herself there. The vet, who was a specialist in reptiles, told me this was normal if you lived in a warm and dry climate, which I did at the time. The feeding of Tia was a bit unusual. She loved to eat what are called king worms, which were very reasonably priced and only required me to purchase them about once a week. Tia, though, would sometimes play with her food. She would pull the worms out of the food bowl and then drop them on the sand to watch them burrow into the ground. I was able to determine that this was some sort of lizard food storage plan as later on she would find them, dig them out, and eat them. It was rare that I would ever find a living king worm in her cage. When king worms were unavailable, I would purchase her some crickets for her weekly meal. She never seemed too happy with the crickets and would eat them only when it appeared that no king worms were coming. She would look at me accusingly and then begin to track down the crickets for her meal.
She was always a hearty and healthy lizard, except for only one time. One day she was very weak and would not eat. She would only drink water and drank far more than normal. When I picked her up, she seemed to be labored in breathing and I swore I heard something that sounded like a wheeze. I took her to the vet and learned that she had contracted a breathing problem common in desert dwelling lizards who live in a house with evaporative cooling units. The extra humidity could cause breathing difficulties in these lizards who are not used to the humidity in the air. The vet was able to treat her and recommended I move her cage so that she was no longer in the path of the air coming from the evaporative cooling. Tia healed up rapidly and thrived for many years after her infection.
Sudan Plated Lizards are wonderful pets who are very mild in temperament. They are very calm and are very easy to hand tame. These lizards are even affectionate often staying with their owners. They do not bite unless provoked and do not whip their tails like many other lizards. They are very hardy and will thrive in an easily set up and maintained environment. The fact that they are insect eaters allows for a cheap feeding schedule of one week periods. They are very mellow but will demonstrate periods of great activity, especially during feeding times. As with all lizards, there is some care that needs to be taken when handling the lizards to avoid certain bacteria common with lizard ownership.