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Butterfly Agama And General Lizard Advice

Discussion in 'Lizards - General' started by Erich2202, Jun 6, 2013.

  1. Erich2202

    Erich2202 Member

    Alright so I am a relatively new to keeping reptiles but have been managing up till now. Granted I do tend to be a bit OCD when it comes to pets and I get stressed if I don't feel that everything is PERFECT. I apologize in advance for my tons of questions and for a really lengthy post.

    I bought a "male?" Butterfly Agama from a breeder at a herpetology society convention 5 days ago. I asked the breeder a lot of general questions about caring for the species and their attitudes and everything and he made it seem really routine and pretty much the same conditions I had for my long tail lizard and whiptail.

    The lizard is just slightly over a foot long from tip to tip and seemed to be in fantastic health when I got it.

    I am keeping it in a Zilla 15 gallon tank. 24 Inches long x 12 Inches wide x 12 Inches high. I already know it is too short. For both him burrowing and him climbing on things.. So I am already looking for a new tank to pour a chunk of money into soon. The dresser I keep the tank on is roughly big enough for a tank that is 34 Inches long, 16-18 Inches wide, and I would like to find a tank that is about 18-24 inches tall.

    I am using Orchid Bark ( for now ) I will change if/because something is better for them. I had been using coconut fiber up till now, I recently lost a Rough Green Snake who died from some sort of hunting accident that resulted in him getting a mouth and throat full of fiber and sent him into a fit of thrashing viciously about. I read that some sort of sand and fiber mixture is the best for these guys because the like to make lasting burrows. ANd I plan on putting some sort of soft layer at the very bottom to prevent him from destroying his hands digging against the glass.

    I have a double domed lamp with a heat/basking light and a UVB light bulbs. They are above the middle of the tank. ( which may or may not be preventing a temperature gradient I am honestly not sure. My Whiptail and Long Tailed Lizard never seemed to have a problem with temperature. ) The lamp gets moved up and down a bit. It is rainy so my crappy drafty apartment room is freezing so I moved it lower. Right now it is about 4 inches from the screen, about a foot from the substrate. When the lizard is on the basking log and the ledge of the cave he is closer but overall its between 12-7 inches. The cave ledge isn't directly under the light.

    For temperature and humidity I have always been a bit unsure about. Especially regarding how to set up the lights position wise and where to put thermometers and such. I have a thermometer/humidity-meter on the right side of the tank which is more underneath the heat lamp. Currently the humidity is at around 50% at least around where that is. Not sure about other spots. From what I have been able to find and piece together they like a humidity around 30-50% or so. The breeder said mist every other day. The temperature is currently about 80 Degrees F on the side with the thermometer. It would be about 85 but today is very rainy and cold and my room has a draft the size of a jet stream. My room typically being cold doesn't help. But from what I have been able to piece together they like temperatures around 75-90+ degrees during the day and night temperatures in the 70s.

    I didn't feed him the first day and haven't really expected much in regards to eating because it seemed like the breeder fed these guys a lot and apparently animals don't really eat as typically while they are becoming situated. ( I tend to be really really bad about letting animals take time to settle in...I try not to. It has to do with being OCD and perfectionisty when it comes to my animals. On day two I fed him a few meal worms and put in 5 crickets. He has eaten two crickets as of today and ate a half a mealworm earlier. He ate about 3-6 ultra sized mealworms on the second day I had him.

    Now for my actual questions and concerns. And there are a few of them....I feel like I know what to do and know how to solve some of them but honestly there is jack squat about this lizard on the internet and a lot of the stuff contradicts OH YEAH THEY ARE AN ARID DESERT SAVANNAH SPECIES!!!! then another post THEY LIKE HUMID TROPICAL. And a few posts that just made it seem like they had way overly complex nutritional needs....and I am thinking....sooo dusted gut loaded crickets
    As I read other people having problems and people looking for help or trying to help it gets me a bit anxious and such.

    What is the best setup to use for this species. I mean like decorations and water and hiding spots, basking spots and such. My experience has been in keeping small arboreal and terrestrial foresty lizards. So it was easy to put in a lot of leafy stuff for them to climb through or have a lot of things on the bottom because the terrestrial lizard was small. But this guy is large and terrestrial and likes to burrow and climb rocks and stuff. I have a large cave in the corner that he has been sleeping in and a large half long den that he basks on but both take up a bit of room. The only plant is a suction cuppy vine on the back. I could use advice, especially for when I get a bigger tank, the extra floor space will allow for me to keep things but give him more room. I feel like the terrarium is too barren and I feel like it just seems wrong. Also what is the advice regarding water for them. I read that they like to soak and I read that they dont. I have read they drink droplets but have watched him drink from the water dish. I don't really have a tank big enough for a bowl large enough for him to soak. And even when I get a larger tank, i want the floor space to be for him being able to move around.

    He is constantly rubbing his snout against the glass, occasionally pushing against it with force or even beginning to dig as he pushing against it, especially in the corners. He also claws at the sides of the tank and at the inside of his plastic cave. I can tell he sees his reflection, but will still do it in the places I have put white paper. When he climbs on the top of his cave he shoves his nose in the corner or along the rim where the black plastic comes down and claws there and he occasionally grabs the screen with his claws and pushes or scrapes it with his nose. and I have noticed that he has begun showing some sort of damage on his nose, but not a lot. I really want to get this problem taken care of before it gets worse. I know that the clawing or aggressive digging against the glass can lead to them damaging their digits, leading to them eventually snapping off. Can the clawing against the plastic cave and up against the walls lead to this too?
    I really don't know what to do. When I looked up solutions for nose rubbing it was mostly all geared towards Water Dragons which you basically have to house in a giant enclosure with only one open side. I can't really easily afford to build an enclosure...unless it is easier than I think it is. Would upgrading from the size tank he is in now to a tank that is higher and longer potentially resolve both issues.

    Burrowing. I have read that this species likes to burrow. But I have provided a cave that he seems to like sleeping in...yet at the same time he kinda seems like he wants to burrow. Is Orchid Bark deffinatly not good for a burrowing species. How important is this burrowing...or is not letting him burrow stressing him out.
    From what I have read and put together what most people have used is some moisture of coconut fiber and sand with moisture that allows for solid burrows, but I am worried a bit about impaction. From everything I have been able to find it seems like that the destruction of their hands is pretty much inevitable and I would really like for that not to happen to mine. Perhaps putting a peat layer or that green soft tank liner at the bottom would be soft enough to protect their claws and bones.
    How deep should the substrate be to allow him to make a suitable deep burrow for himself??

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  2. Erich2202

    Erich2202 Member

    Now he has started jumping from the floor of the cage and grabbing the screen and is constantly rubbing and clawing against the glass all morning. I have no idea what I am doing wrong. Can someone please help me!!!!!!!!
  3. MicahC

    MicahC Elite Member

    The only solution to that is to get a larger cage....the cage does look too small for the size of the lizard. Sorry for the little responses... I have never heard of that kind of lizard. I will do some research for you..
  4. Erich2202

    Erich2202 Member

    Thanks. I will take care of that today then this afternoon. Hopefully upgrading to a 40 gallon will be enough.
  5. MicahC

    MicahC Elite Member

  6. Erich2202

    Erich2202 Member

    Thank you. Those are all ones I looked at. The last one is helpful but again contradicts other sources and I don't know who to listen to. And I don't really know how to go about it regarding the cage then if i shouldn't be keeping it in an all glass terrarium. I don't know where to get any that arn't all glass.
  7. MicahC

    MicahC Elite Member

    Yea, I couldn't really find much on them. The best thing to do is ask a professional or possibly buy a book. Just spend an hour or so surfing the web and you should find some good info. You could also go with building yourself a custom cage to keep in the heat and that will last it its whole lifetime.
  8. Erich2202

    Erich2202 Member

    And I did look tirelessly through the internet for stuff about BUtterfly Agamas and hardly found anything. They are mentioned in books but saying nothing more than a generic care sheet.

    Honestly I might do that. Make it the dimensions I want it. I would just need to be able to find all the parts and such. Hopefully it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. But I don't have a lot of time because I don't want him to hurt himself even more.
  9. Erich2202

    Erich2202 Member

    Would a tank that is about 34 or so by 15 be a suitable upgrade for my 12 inch agama??

    or would i probably have to go even bigger??

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