Emerald Swift (Sceloporus malachiticus) Care Sheet
Emerald swifts are a docile species of reptile that are more of a display creature than anything else. Though with careful handling some have been tamed, this is not a suggested idea. They are a quick little reptile that is primarily insectivorous. Males are predominantly more vibrant than females which is a distinguishing feature between the two sexes. Males should be housed with several females or by themselves. Like many reptiles, males will engage in territorial disputes.
Swifts are an active, diurnal species of reptile. They require an optimal amount of space and thrive better in larger enclosures. One or two swifts could reside in a 20 gallon aquarium.
These reptiles are arboreal and love to climb so there must be an abundance of climbing materials within the enclosure. With the climbing materials there should be a variety of fake or real, non toxic plants intertwined. This will help to give this species a sense of security in their environment. These reptiles will feel most secure if they have locations within the enclosure that they can hide. Supplying them with hide boxes/caves/etc. is important.
They are also a basking reptile so basking spots with optimal temperatures should be provided.
Beautiful Belly Coloration
Swifts will burrow when they are fearful or want to feel secure. Their substrate should allow this. A mixture of sterilized soil and fine grain sand will suffice for this reptile.
There should be 2 heat sources for this species of reptile. The first being an overhead heat source keeping the basking spots at an optimal 90-95 degrees. Many have turned to using ceramic heat emitters (CHE) for this purpose.
The other is an under tank heater. Since these reptiles will also burrow, there should be a heat source at the furthest distance from the top of the enclosure. The UTH will do well for this purpose.
The ambient temperatures during the day should be maintained around 87-90 degrees on the warm end and 80-83 degrees on the cooler end.
Evening temperatures should be maintained around 70-74 degrees.
It is crucial that you monitor your swifts enclosure. This can be done with the use of thermometers. There are many different types to choose from and one for every budget. The use of two thermometers is recommended so that each end of the enclosure can be monitored.
Emerald swifts require UVB exposure. Your UV light (Reptisun 5.0, Iguana light 5.0, Desert light 7.0) should be within 12 inches of the basking areas. Optimal distance would be around 10 inches. (This lighting is essential and is not an option!)
When using stronger lighting, as with mercury vapors, you should follow the manufacturers recommended distances for the lighting. Reptile UV offers a superior light called the Mega Ray. I highly recommend this light for all UVB requiring species of reptile.
Swifts do best in enclosures that maintain a humidity level of 65% or better. Daily misting of the substrate will help to keep the humidity up. Others have turned to using moist hides in place of maintaining the enclosures humidity.
A moist hide is designed to aid with shedding and to double as a laying box for gravid females. To create a moist hide, cut a hole in the side of a margarine tub. The hole should be closest to the top of the container but should have at least 1 inch of plastic remaining on the bottom.
Place some sphagnum moss or a similar medium in the container and wet slightly. The substrate should not be so wet that water is evident. It also must not be dry. The best way to get a good consistency is too hold the medium in your hand and add water. Now squeeze out the excess moisture. This will leave a safe medium for you to use.
A moist hide will maintain a humidity level of 70% or better if maintained properly with misting.
Moist Hide Creation
Swifts are insectivores and require a diet consisting of healthy insects. The most common insects available and used are crickets, mealworms, wax worms, and silk worms. Each of these insects make up an entire diet with crickets or mealworms being the staple of the diet.
Supplementing these insects through gut loading and dusting will help to ensure that your reptile is receiving all the nutrients it requires.
A feeding dish will make locating worms easier and will help prevent the worms from burrowing in the substrate and escaping your swift. Feeding dishes should be slightly pressed into the substrate to ensure the swift has easy access to the insects inside it.
To save money on feeding, you can breed your own feeder insects. On the left side of the page, at the top, we have instructions for breeding the different types of feeder insects.
Feeder insects purchased online and at petstores are fed an unknown diet. We also are not made aware of when they were last fed. As a rule, it is always best to feed the prey you intend on feeding your emerald swift for at least 24 hours before they are fed. This ensures that the feeder insects are thoroughly gut loaded and contain the maximum amount of nutrients that they can hold. In feeding them nutritious and vitamin enriched foods, those nutrients will then get passed on to your swift. This is where the term "gut loading" has come into play. Essentially, you are loading the feeder insects gut with vitamins and minerals that will be passed on to your swift when it is consumed.
The food items used to gut load your feeder insects will be dependant on the species of insect being fed. Waxworms and crickets have different dietary needs as do mealworms and silkworms. As a result, it is important to know the dietary requirements for each species so that you can adequately provide them with a nutritious gut loading prior to feeding them to your emerald swift.
A shallow dish of water should be offered at all times.
Author: Richard Brooks
Emerald Swift Main - © Brandon Hyman
Emerald Swift Belly - © Brandon Hyman
Emerald Swift Basking - © Brandon Hyman
Emerald Swift Log - © Lubomir Klatil