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Contains articles and advice on a wide variety of snake species. Answers and addresses questions on species husbandry, captive status, breeding, news and conservation issues concerning lizards.

Lizard Conservation in the USA – 2012 Declared “Year of the Lizard”

Collared LizardThe Partnership for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), a group comprised of private citizens, herpetologists, environmental organizations and others, has made great progress in the 10 years since its inception. 2011’s “Year of the Turtle” effort was especially effective in raising support for tortoise and turtle conservation. This year, the group has turned its attention to lizards, with an emphasis on North America’s many unique and imperiled species.

Lizard Conservation Overview

In the eye of the general public, lizards do not suffer the “image problem” that besets snakes, yet they lack the appeal of turtles and frogs. And so their conservation needs are, with few exceptions, not well-known. I sometimes wonder if the high visibility of a few common anoles and geckos in warm locales leads some (non-herp-oriented) people to regard lizard populations as relatively secure.  Read More »

Asian or Chinese Water Dragon – Captive Care and Common Health Concerns

Water DragonThe Asian or Chinese Water Dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) superficially resembles the Green Iguana and is popular with those iguana fans lacking the space for a 6 foot-long lizard. Alert, beautifully-colored and interesting, they are among the best of all large lizard pets. Water Dragons are subject to several unique health concerns but, as will be explained, all can be easily avoided.

Asian Water Dragons range from southern China through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. They are always found near water, frequenting riversides, swamps and canals. The less-common Eastern Water Dragon, Physignathus leseurii, may also be kept as described below.


Water Dragons are alert and somewhat high-strung, and will run from noises, cats, dogs, and other threats.  In the wild, frightened individuals drop from branches to the water or dash into heavy cover; captives retain this instinct and are often injured during escape attempts.  While most calm down and accept gentle handling, always avoid startling your pet. Read More »

Salmonella Prevention – Guidelines for Reptile and Amphibian Owners

Salmonella Zoonotic diseases (those that can pass from animals to people) such Salmonella bacteria infections are a potential concern in the keeping of any pet. Many people associate Salmonella with reptiles, but nearly any animal, including dogs, cats and birds, may harbor this troublesome micro-organism. Handling an animal that carries Salmonella will not cause an infection; the bacteria are harmful to people only if ingested.

Note: This article is intended for general informational purposes and is not meant to replace a doctor’s advice. Please consult your physician or veterinarian for specific information concerning disease prevention and treatment. 

Avoiding Salmonella: Knowledge is Key

Fortunately, Salmonella infections can be avoided by following a few simple rules. Healthy individuals have a relatively low risk of becoming infected; infants, and people with compromised immune systems, are more susceptible. Please see the CDC’s website, below, for further information. Read More »

Skinks, Sea Snakes and Caecilians – Surprising New Species Discovered

Pygmy Spiny tailed SkinkNew reptiles and amphibians turn up regularly, but, being generally small and inconspicuous, most excite only hard-core herp enthusiasts.  In recent days, however, a string of good-sized, colorful and totally unexpected discoveries have drawn attention from even “regular” people.  The new species include a spiny, brick-red skink, a sea snake with uniquely-raised scales, and a new family of hard-headed caecilians, those oddest of amphibians.

Western Pilbara Spiny-Tailed Skink (Ergenia cygnitos)

The beautiful, deep-red color of this spine-covered skink closely matches the rocks of its desert habitat in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.  You can see its photo and learn more in the article linked below.

Over the past 12 months, 9 other new species – 7 reptiles and 2 frogs – have been found in the same area.  Several related skinks (please see photo) and a “barking” gecko are included among the newly-described creatures.  Mining proposals spurred the surveys in Pilbara.  Hopefully, the discovery so many previously unknown species will limit commercial activities until further studies have been completed. Read More »

Senegal Chameleons and Related Species – Common Health Problems

Senegal ChameleonThe Senegal Chameleon (Chamaeleo senegalensis) occupies a unique position in the pet trade.  Inexpensive and widely available, it can be a hearty captive if given proper care.  However, this West African native is more easily collected than bred, so most that become available are wild-caught.  Collection and shipment, hard on any creature, is particularly difficult for chameleons to endure.  As a result, a variety of health problems are commonly seen in newly-acquired Senegal Chameleons.

In some ways, the Senegal Chameleon situation reminds me of that faced by Green Anoles in the 1960’s and ‘70’s.  Because they were interesting and cheap, these fascinating little lizards were often purchased without much forethought.  It took many years, and untold numbers of dead anoles, before we understood their specific husbandry needs. Read More »

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