Keeping live-bearing lizards does away with one of the biggest stumbling blocks to success in reptile breeding – egg incubation. The 90+ species of Swifts (also known as Spiny or Fence Lizards, genus Sceloporus) that dwell in North and Central America are particularly good choices for both beginning and advanced reptile breeders. All are beautiful, active and interesting, and many bear their young alive. Please see Part 1 of this article for additional information on getting started with these fascinating dynamos.
Caring for the Young
Swifts are born at the relatively large size of 2-2.6 inches, and so are fairly easy to feed. A varied diet that includes wild-caught grasshoppers, isopods, beetles and other invertebrates is absolutely essential, as are high levels of UVA and UVB. Please check out our extensive line of UVA/UVB bulbs, and write in for specific information regarding your particular terrarium or enclosure if you would like some product suggestions.
I powder most meals with supplements, alternating among Reptivite with D3, Reptile Calcium and ReptoCal. I use supplements only 2-3 times weekly, however, when feeding diets comprised largely of wild-caught invertebrates.
Sexual maturity is reached by age 5-7 months, but males may begin to fight before that time, so watch their behavior carefully.
Hardy and Delicate Swifts
In addition to the Yarrow’s Swift mentioned in Part 1 of this article, a number of other species that appear in the trade are live-bearers. My favorites include the Blue Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus cyanogenys) and the Crevice Spiny Lizard (S. poinsetti).
The Emerald Swift (S. malachticus), a gorgeous live-bearer from the southern portion of the group’s range (Mexico to Panama), sometimes appears for sale. Unfortunately, it is fairly delicate, and seems adapted to lower temperatures and moister conditions than are most of its relatives. It certainly deserves more attention from experienced lizard-keepers and zoos.
Several of the more popular Swifts produce eggs. Included among these are the Eastern Fence Lizard (S. undulatus), the Western Fence Lizard (S. occidentalis) and the Desert Spiny Lizard (S. magister). Please write in if you would like information on these and other oviparous species.
Interesting article on the Florida-endemic Florida Scrub Lizard.