How to Care for Your New Curly-Tail Lizard
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Introduction. Long ago in the mists of antiquity (maybe the mid-80s), Haitian curly-tails used to be one of the more common lizards in the pet trade. Not so much this millennium. Back in the day, we remember seeing cricket vending machines that would dispense crickets into a tank of curly-tails. You put in a quarter, the crickets would fall out, and the voracious curly-tails would eagerly devour them. Maybe not so eagerly after the first buck. Neat concept but the idea never caught on.
In the Meantime. Haiti went thru some economic problems and various exporting embargos that put some serious crimps in the availability of Haitian curly-tails. In the meantime (as we said not that long ago), reptile availability and interest increased exponentially. With all the fancy new saurians available, curly-tails mostly disappeared. Well, they seem to be back these days. At about twice the price, but still not pricey. Curly-tails make an excellent "starter lizard" -- maybe a step or two above your anoles, house geckos, and long-tail grass lizards.
They're Back. Most people will like curly-tails because they're easy to keep (and very active). By the way, you won't want to mix them with the three starter lizards mentioned earlier. Curly-tails will probably eat them. At the very least, they'll intimidate and certainly stress most other lizards. Curly-tails have "invaded" southern Florida and enjoy eating the native lizards in Florida. They like small lizards. Anti-lizard Floridians control them with B-B guns and hungry housecats.
Considered insectivores, curly-tails scamper right after crickets.
They'll also learn to eat mealworms and superworms from your fingers.
You can give them other insects like wax worms which they love but tend to
over eat. Roaches, houseflies, or any
More Other Foods. Take a stroll down the baby food aisle. Think twice about the bananas. We gave some banana baby food to six baby bearded dragons and glued three of them to their cage wall. Curly-tails are more powerful than three-week-old beardies, so they can probably overpower bananas. Then again, bananas are not good for some lizards. Skip the bananas. Anyway, applesauce works great. The best thing about baby food? You can add a Calcium/Vitamin D supplement to it. Much easier than dusting crickets (which start cleaning it off the second it gets on them). Curly-tails will also eat bits of leafy lettuce. Uneaten crickets in their cage will also eat the fruits and vegetables you offer your lizards. After 20 or 30 minutes, move the uneaten fruits and vegetables to your cricket ranch.
Substrate. Curly-tails could not care less about their substrate. Since they are mostly brown, they will tend to blend into brown. As some of the eagerest eaters, they also might ingest a bit of substrate when they grab their prey. It doesn't seem to bother them. Change their litter as needed. Some substrates hold humidity better than others.
Speaking of Humidity. We see various % humidity requirements recommended for curly-tails. We just give them a water bowl and let the humidity take care of itself. They can adapt to humidity changes with the weather. If you Google "Florida weather," you'll get a specific humidity (60% today). "Palm Beach weather" says 66% (today). It jumps around. Humidity changes all the time.
Lighting. Curly-tails worship the sun. In the wild, they climb atop rock piles and rock walls to get warmer (from the sun and the rocks). They will prefer a good lizard light with UVB.. If you use an incandescent heat bulb, be sure to add one of the Ca/D3 powders to their intake. You can dust your crickets, and/or the fruit puree you feed, or your cricket's food. You won't need a great deal of supplement, but you will need to "dust" occasionally.
Terrestrial Beasties. You don't see curly-tail lizards leaping thru the trees. They prefer Terra Firma.. That's beneficial for the anoles which are more arboreal (and tastier). But they will climb out (fast).
Powerful Little Dynamos. When
Caves, Crevices, Crannies. Little critters realize big critters eat little critters. They like to find hiding places when they feel threatened or even stressed -- from you or their cage mates. Provide more than one hidey hole.
"Loves Turrets." In spite of living on the ground, they like to climb to high observation posts such as rock piles and rock walls. Since they do climb, keep them covered. Critter Cages with the sliding screen tops work great.
Breeding. After the shorter days of winter, curly-tails get the urge to merge in the spring. You may want to mist them a bit in the spring to encourage them. They lay eggs in late summer. Provide a diggable area for the eggs. Careful, males like to argue. The males are larger and have a bigger head. If you see no difference between the two, it probably does not matter.
Last Words. As mentioned earlier,
curly-tails make a great starter lizard -- even the ones with non-curly
tails. They're virtually trouble-free and easy to keep. LA
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