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Collared lizards live throughout North America, and can be told apart (Eastern vs. Western) by their color patterns. Eastern collared lizards are blue or green, with distinctive black bands around their necks. Western collared lizards are a sandy brown, with similar neck bands. Eastern males can most easily be distinguished from females by the brightly colored blue, green, or orange patch on their throats; females' throats are the same pale blue or green color as their bellies. Western males' throats are very dark blue, while the females' throats are creamy-white or sand-colored.
Collared lizards are medium-sized reptiles, reaching no more than 12" - 14" in full length. They love to run, and are noted for running upright on their back legs like a basilisk lizard. They also frequently wave their tails before grabbing prey, much like a cat stalking an unwary mouse. Though they can inflict a powerful nip, collared lizards generally tame quickly.
Mistakenly called "mountain boomers" because locals thought they emitted a sound that echoed through the mountain valleys, collared lizards require very large, hot enclosures (ideally 60 gallons or more). A substrate of gravel and large rocks suits these desert-dwellers best. They also need elevated areas for basking, and a lower "cooling off" spot. Since they tend to be shy, hiding places are equally important.
During the daytime, basking temperatures should range between 95º and 104º F, with ambient "cooling off" temps ranging between 75º and 90º F. A comfortable nighttime range is 70º - 85º F. Collared lizards who don't receive enough ultraviolet light can suffer from calcium deficiency, so always use UVB-producing fluorescent lights such as the ZooMed PowerSun, which provides heat, UVA, and UVB all in one bulb.
However, they prefer low humidity, so be sure their water bowl is always placed at the farthest point away from their basking areas. You may want to soak your collared lizard once a week in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 20 minutes; this will help clean and rehydrate it, if necessary.
Collared lizards are mostly carnivorous. Hatchlings will eat crickets and freshly molted baby superworms, while adults may eat larger crickets and full-sized superworms. Most collared lizards will also eat high-calcium greens and vegetables such as collard greens, mustard greens, figs, raspberries, papaya, and mango. Adults should not be placed with much smaller lizards, as they may consider tiny lizards to be part of their diet.
Collared lizards can live for over ten years, with proper care. Females will lay between 4 and 12 eggs in the spring/early summer. The eggs will hatch about 10 weeks later. Hatchlings should be kept separately from the adults, until fully grown themselves.
Collared lizards tend to be a bit skittish, and may never willingly sit on your arm like an iguana or bearded dragon. However, their beauty and agility makes them a favorite among reptile lovers. With patience and care, your collared lizard will be an energetic, longtime companion.