I’m sure that if you’re from Northern California, you recall at some point in your life stepping outside and seeing a mean-looking reptile that seemed just a little too big to be a casual resident in the garden. You might have even tried to pick him up, only to have him either scurry away, drop his tail, or snap a strong bite into your hand; who is he? He’s the Northern Alligator Lizard.
Northern Alligator Lizards have a reputation for being mean animals who, if you run into, you might want to scoop into a bucket and send on their way. Realistically, these lizards are very fearful of humans and their defenses are only provoked from this fear. When raised in captivity or even tamed as adults, Northern Alligator Lizards are very tolerant of being held or pet, and grow to know their caretaker as the one who provides the most important staples of life, like food and water.
I love reptiles, and my lizard family seems to grow more often than I had expected when I adopted my first leopard gecko ― so when a newly hatched alligator lizard hopped into my hand and refused to get off, I was happy to take it home and give it a life of very little instinctual stress.
Northern Alligator Lizards require very basic care and are quite hardy reptiles as adults; in fact, all they really require is a substrate like Eco-Earth, a hollow log hide, an artificial plant or two, and a UVB light fixture. They should be kept, when young, in a basic 10 gallon tank with a screen lid ― when adults, upgrading to a 20 gallon tank is recommended for optimal care. Alligator lizards will eat mealworms, superworms, crickets, waxworms; pretty much anything your bearded dragon would eat; as hatchlings, they should be feed the smallest mealworms possible, but as adults, they can even devour large superworms with no problem, as an average alligator lizard will grow to six inches in body length, excluding the tail. With the tail, the average alligator lizard will be about twelve inches long.
If you are experienced in reptile keeping and you happen to come across a lost alligator lizard, you might want to second guess sending it on it’s way!
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog-post!