There are few reptiles available in New Zealand mainly the Blue Tongue Lizard, Bearded Dragon, Water Dragon and some Geckos. When deciding on the species of reptile you are wanting to purchase, it is always important to consider how big the animal will grow, and what will you do when it reaches that size. The Blue Tongue you once purchased at 12cm has now grown to 45cm and has out grown its enclosure.

For Bearded Dragons it is recommended that you only have one and give your pet all the attention and specialised care it requires. There is a risk of aggression between same-sex Beardies and unnecessary breeding between males and females.

Accommodation Needs (habitat/husbandry)

It’s important to provide the proper living environment for your reptile. Cages or vivarium’s need to be escape-proof and you must provide enough space for mobility. You also need to consider factors like cleaning, sanitizing, and routine maintenance. They will require a large tank that includes a spotlight, heat pad, an infrared lamp, a UVA/UVB tube, shallow water bowl, branches, a flat-bottom rock and sand to line the bottom of the cage.


Being cold-blooded, a captive reptile doesn’t have the luxury of maintaining its body temperature within the range that it needs. It has to rely on you to provide an environment that allows it to stay healthy. A temperature gradient should be provided to allow your reptile to move from place to place as it needs to warm up by basking, or cool down. It’s also important to invest in a good thermometer and proper lighting. Depending on the species, you may also need to purchase specialized heating equipment like nocturnal heat lamps, basking lights, under-tank heaters, radiant terrarium heaters, etc.


Light provides your pet with specific vitamins for mineral metabolism, but also creates an environment that caters to the animal’s very nature; some reptiles are nocturnal, while others are diurnal. For many reptiles, a light source can be used for both light and heating. However, for species that require darkness with higher ambient temperatures than your room temperature, combined heating and lighting solutions won’t work and the two elements must be separated.


Reptiles in the wild are accustomed to locations with fairly stable humidity. Depending on the animal’s needs, you will need to provide a means to regulate the humidity in your pet’s home. You may need to install misting equipment, drippers, or foggers. And, of course, if your pet is sensitive to humidity, a good humidity alert device is an absolute requirement.

Feeding and Nutrition Needs

They are omnivorous and need to eat a balanced diet of insects, greenery and fruits. There are commercially available diets, but almost all reptiles require fresh fruits and vegetables as a majority of their diet. Some reptiles must be fed live food like crickets or items such as live worms, grasshoppers or snail, which can become costly. Raising your own feeder insects can save you money, but you will still incur expense in dusts or gut load products and supplements.



Amount of Care

If you select a reptile that requires careful monitoring, you must be prepared not only to commit the time and energy to provide that monitoring, but also be prepared for emergencies like equipment failure, illness, stress, malnutrition, and general difficulty in keeping and handling. You’ll need to make arrangements for someone knowledgeable to take care of your reptile if you’re away and if it gets sick, you want to be sure there’s a veterinarian in your locale familiar with reptiles.


Lizards should be handled with great care as they are very delicate. If you’re looking for a pet you can handle a lot, you probably don’t want a reptile. Among reptile, there’s obviously a wide range in the amount of handling that is necessary, possible, or desirable. How you will, or can, approach the handling of your pet is something you must factor into the decision about which species to purchase. As always, after handling any reptile, hands must be washed to prevent the spread of disease.

Health Risks

Reptiles carry Salmonella, a bacteria which can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with faeces, or through contact with something that has been contaminated with faeces. The disease is most commonly transmitted through oral ingestion after handling a herp or equipment that has been contaminated, through open cuts/sores during handling, and through direct contact with contaminated soil or environmental items.



Fun Facts about Lizards


Some lizards can detach their tails if caught by predators, and regenerate it later.


The Komodo dragon is the largest type of lizard, growing up to 3 metres (10 feet) in length.


Komodo dragons are carnivores (meat eaters) and can be very aggressive.


The upper and lower eyelids of chameleons are joined, leaving just a small hole for them to see through. They can move their eyes independently however, allowing them to look in two different directions at the same time.


Chameleons have long tongues which they rapidly extend from their mouth, too fast for human eyes to see properly.


Some chameleons have the ability to change color. This helps them communicate with each other and can also be used for camouflage. Some show darker colors when angry, or when trying to scare others. Males show light multi-colored patterns when vying for female attention.


The chameleons’ eyes can rotate and focus separately on 180-degree arcs, so they can see two different objects at the same time. This gives them a full 360-degree field of vision.


Geckos have no eyelids.


Geckos have unique toes which allow them to be good climbers.


Iguanas have a row of spines which run down their back and tail.


Tuataras have spiny crests along their backs made from soft, triangular folds of skin. These spines are more prominent in males, who can raise them during territorial or courtship displays. The name “tuatara” comes from the Maori for “peaks on the back.”


The tuatara has a third eye on the top of its head called the parietal eye. This eye has a retina, lens, cornea, and nerve endings, but it is not used for vision. The parietal eye is only visible in hatchlings, as it becomes covered in scales and pigments after four to six months.


Tuataras mature slowly and don’t stop growing until they reach about 30 years old.