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Picking a Lizard

Discussion in 'Lizards - General' started by openmind, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. openmind

    openmind Member

    I have been researching lizards for months now. But my family does not know much about lizards so I would like some opinions on what would be best suited for me. I do like the Blue Tongue Skinks. But I would like something a little bigger. Between three and four feet would be perfect I think. For an enclosure I could go up to 6' by 3'. I want something that can be handled and tamed.
    I've been looking a lot at Argentine Black and White Tegus, but I'm not sure if they would be happy with only my room to explore every day. I could let them explore the rest of the house sometimes but only when the dogs are in their rooms. They would still have my whole room outside their cage to explore daily when I take them out.
    I've also looked at Savannah Monitors but am not quite sure how much space they really need since I have encountered varying information.
    Comments on those mentioned or suggestions of lizard not mentioned would both be appreciated! Thanks!
     
  2. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    I don't mean to sound rude here but this is an important factor. Do you have a way of paying for the large food bills, electricity bills, and vet bills such a large lizard would require? Have you ever owned any other reptiles?
     
  3. SSThorn

    SSThorn Elite Member

    Ok, I would stay away from monitors and tegus for now.
    I have 15 years of reptile experience, with animals as simple as ball pythons, all the way to large constrictors, and various geckos and lizards, and i just recently got into Monitors (6-7 months ago). They take a lot!
    Savannah Monitors should have an adult cage of 8x4x4, with up to a foot+ of burrow-able substrate. Do you know how much that will weigh? Tons. Literally.
    Tegu's are interesting as well, but remember, they need space as well. The only "small" tegu i know of, is the Colombian, which is mean most of the time.

    What do you have the funds for?
    What do you have the space for?
    I dont mean house roaming size, I mean adult fully supporting cage size.
    What do you have the time for? Any of the larger species of lizards you usually want to build trust with, which takes hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes years before they are "Tame".
    Also, think of the potential hazard they pose. My Varanus Ornatus is no where near being adult size, but if he bites me, it would definitely be a hospital trip. He is only 4ft, he has the potential to be 7.5ft.
    Large Lizards are large Commitments.
    I would suggest a good beginner lizard such as a Bearded dragon, Leopard gecko, or Crested Gecko.
     
  4. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    A skink would be a wonderful starter! And if you are looking for something different that grabs everyone's attention a crocodile skink is interesting. Or a fire skink is very vibrant and colorful!
    Bearded dragons are also a great starter and come in a variety of colors. Also there are the German giant morphs that can get 26-30 in long.
     
  5. SSThorn

    SSThorn Elite Member

    Croc Skinks look wicked cool
     
  6. AdamL8

    AdamL8 Elite Member

    You mentioned the Blue Tongued Skink. This would probably be a good lizard for you. They get to be a decent size and a 6x3x3 cage would be just great for one. They are generally docile as far as I know. That being said, I don't know a lot about BTS but I really don't think that a monitor or tegu is a good idea for you.

    The general rule of thumb for monitors and tegus is a cage that is as wide as they are expected to be long and twice that for the length of the enclosure with a fair bit of height for substrate and climbing. For the monitors it is required that they have 1 to 2 feet of substrate for burrowing which keeps them healthy in several ways. Without it they will likely die prematurely from any number of issues. Monitors and tegus are known to have bad attitudes to start and may never become "tamed" like you want and they are dangerous. They aren't a pet that is meant to be held and they certainly don't enjoy it regardless of what you may see on a youtube video. The feeding bills for these giant lizards aren't cheap either.

    Savannah Monitors are one of the most highly imported monitors in the United States. They also have the lowest rate of survival to adulthood. This is because they seem cute and cheap when people see that little 8 inch baby and throw it in a 20 gallon fish tank with aspen then give it a dozen crickets once a week. That isn't even close to OK. An adult will literally eat you out of house and home and requires a humongous cage with several tons of dirt. I am certainly trying to talk you out of getting one because the odds are that you will kill it. You wouldn't do it on purpose but it would happen.

    In captivity a Savannah Monitor can live to be 15 years or older but an "Old" sav to most people is only 5 years of age because they are housed improperly with a poor diet and die early as a result. You see these adult savs that are housed in a box with mesh doors and 2 inches of cedar mulch or whatever they have and the people think that everybody is crazy for saying they need a big enclosure with deep substrate and that they are doing it just fine because they made it to 2 years old then it dies young and they just assume that it was something completely unrelated that caused the death. It's sickening to see and generally those same people will refuse to believe that their husbandry contributed to the death because the monitor made it to adulthood. Here's the thing, They live long past the point that they are considered adults when the husbandry is right.

    I am only about 7 months in with my Sav but there are plenty of far more experienced owners than myself who will tell you the same thing. I expect my monitor to live a long and healthy life. You really have to be open to criticism if you end up getting one despite all of this.

    That turned in to a bit of a rant but I just wanted to stress the fact that these big lizards are not for most people and are not something that you should ever get on a whim. You need to do a lot of research before buying an animal and be fully prepared.
     
  7. jamesw

    jamesw Elite Member

    A Colombian tegu would be a good fit if it is something that interests you. Do a lot of research and determine what is the max enclosure size you can do and if you have the financial ability to provide the diet, bulbs, and other items needed to provide properly for whatever you decide to get.
     
  8. openmind

    openmind Member


    I have hundreds of dollars saved up for this. I have space for a 6' long by 3'wide by four or five feet high I suppose.
    I have plenty of time. I am willing to work with them every day. I know of the hazards of biting and tail whips, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.
     
  9. williamweir10

    williamweir10 Elite Member

    Personally, I love blue tongue skinks. I think they would be a great pet for you. A monitor is going to get too big for the space that you have, whereas a skink is going to be MORE than happy with that enclosure.. PLUS, skinks have a really awesome personality, and you can hold them, etc...

    Don't get me wrong, monitors are really cool, I just don't think they'd be right for you in your current situation...
     
  10. openmind

    openmind Member

    I was already pretty sure a Savannah Monitor wouldn't be right for me. This confirmed my suspicions hearing the testimonial of someone who is actually first hand experienced (AdamL8). Crocodile Skinks do look REALLY cool, but I'd still like something a little bigger. Colombian Tegu's are nice size and appearance wise but in regards to temperament I don't think it would be a good fit. The only tegu I found widely recommended with a wealth of information was the Argentine Black & White and that was the main one I was considering but the size is too much. But the Blue Tegu seems perfect. It looks fantastic and staying around three feet would be the size I most want. Also, Ackie monitors are another option I've been looking at.
     
  11. NancyA

    NancyA Elite Member

    I vote for the blue tongues as well. They are a great first lizard as long as you have the funds needed on a monthly basis for replacement of lighting, food(produce gets expensive), substrate and vet visits. The set up is generally not too expensive it's the day to day cost that can really eat into the pocket. Exotic vets charge twice as much near me to see herps than regular vets charge to see dogs and cats. BTS are also a very hardy animal, curious, easily handled and not extremely fast running. Also if you do your research on them the Northern Blue Tongues can grow over 2 feet long. They are also very long lived animals capable of exceeding 20 years with proper husbandry.
     
  12. williamweir10

    williamweir10 Elite Member

    I don't know a ton about lizards, but there definitely are people on this forum that do. Just make sure, whatever you get, that you do TONS of research before you get them. Get everything set up a few days in advance so you can check, double check, and triple check the temps/humidity/etc.

    (I still think you should get a blue tongue skink so I can see pictures of them...) :)
     
  13. openmind

    openmind Member

    Yeah I've done a lot of research on the Blue Tongue Skinks for awhile too. A couple months ago I was looking at maybe a Bearded Dragon but after discovering the Northern Blue Tongue Skink I just fell in love with them. :">
    I love the Ackie Monitors too though! So if a Blue Tegu isn't an option it's definitely between those two.

    I read Blue Tegu males get about 3.5' and females get to 3' which is exactly what I would want.
    Also the recommended enclosure size for an adult is 6ft long, 3 ft wide, and 18 inches high and I would be able to provide that.
    I would also have no problem spending time with him/her everyday to make sure he/she becomes tame and friendly.
    What do you think? I haven't been able to find nearly as much info on Blues as there are on B&W's.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  14. jamesw

    jamesw Elite Member

    B&W and blue tegus require the same care. Blues are fairly difficult to find and when they are available are rather expensive. Blues can also reach upwards of 4' so if a bigger enclosure is not a possibility I would shy away from any Argentine tegus. The Colombians aren't nearly as bad as everyone says. Visit tegutalk.com and look around the forum. Plenty of people there have Colombians and they prove to be very different from what those without experience with them claim.
     
  15. openmind

    openmind Member

    Have you had any personal experience with Colombians?
     
  16. williamweir10

    williamweir10 Elite Member

    My only experience with Colombians:

    tumblr_m8ll2aGIo11rvwttvo1_500.gif
     

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  17. SSThorn

    SSThorn Elite Member

    I have experience with Colombians, Black and whites, Ornate monitors, Yellow Monitors, and many others.

    Also, You realize a proper setup for an adult Sav can cost 1,000$+, Not "Hundreds of dollars".
     
  18. openmind

    openmind Member

    Well if you had read through my posts, you would have seen I've ruled them out anyways. And, I would have enough to setup the juvenile Sav, and by the time it became an adult I would have enough to setup the adult Sav.
     
  19. openmind

    openmind Member

    I'm surprised you didn't recommend a pet tiger then!
     

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  20. Ripkabird98

    Ripkabird98 Elite Member

    Do not get a Tegu. I have one. A blue doesnt really get smaller. Columbians can be like a dog.... with lots of work.

    There is no such thing as a JUVENILE monitor setup. The fact you said thst means you arent ready for one.

    I vote for a Blue Tongue Skink as well. I think you are getting irritable, because you dont like our suggestions. You asked for advice and recieved it from several members. Im sorry it isn't whst you wanted to hear.
     

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