The term "blue belly lizard" is applied to a variety of lizards from the genus Sceloporus; most species will thrive with similar care. Blue belly lizards are rather easy to maintain, given their small size and hardy nature. If you provide them with a suitable habitat, the right heating and lighting, and ample food and water, blue belly lizards may live up to 5 years in some cases.
Home Sweet Home
Aquariums with screened lids make suitable habitats for blue belly lizards. You can use a 10-gallon aquarium, but a 20-gallon aquarium is preferable. Alternatively, you can use commercially produced reptile cages of similar dimensions. Use cypress mulch, orchid bark, sand or organic topsoil as a substrate, and include several branches or pieces of bark for the lizard to climb on and hide under.
You can keep more than one lizard in a habitat. Male blue belly lizards -- who possess much bolder and more extensive blue coloration on their bellies than females do -- will fight with conspecifics, so house only one per cage. Females will safely cohabit with other blue belly lizards, but take care to avoid overcrowding them. A comfortable grouping for a 20-gallon habitat would include one male and two females. The lizards may breed in captivity, so be sure the female lizards have a suitable place to deposit their eggs, such as a container full of slightly damp topsoil.
Place a small heat lamp at one end of the cage to provide your pet a thermal gradient so he can choose from many different temperatures in the habitat. Experiment with the bulb wattage until the spot directly under the heat lamp measures about 90 degrees Fahrenheit; the far side of the habitat should be in the high 70s. Additionally, your lizard needs access to full-spectrum lighting to metabolize his calcium properly. You can purchase and install fluorescent bulbs that produce full-spectrum lighting yet do not produce much heat at most reptile-oriented pet stores. Turn the lights off for 10 to 12 hours each night; the cage temperature can safely fall to room temperature at night when the lights are off.
Blue belly lizards primarily consume invertebrates in the wild, but they will eat small lizards from time to time. In captivity, blue bellies will thrive on commercially produced crickets or roaches. You can offer mealworms, wax worms and earthworms for occasional treats. Feed your lizard, three to four times per week, as many insects as he will eat within five minutes. Purchase and use a quality mineral supplement to ensure your lizard obtains enough calcium in his diet. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding supplementary schedules, as too much calcium can be just as dangerous as too little.
Your lizard needs access to clean, fresh water at all times, so provide him a shallow water dish. You can purchase a suitable bowl at a pet store, or you can repurpose a jar lid or plastic food container. Some blue belly lizards do not recognize water dishes and prefer drinking water droplets that have been sprayed on the cage walls and furniture. In such cases, it is important to mist the cage lightly every day to ensure the lizard can hydrate adequately.
- RepticZone: Care Sheet for Fence Lizards
- Melissa Kaplan's Herp Care Collection: Spiny Lizards: Jeweled Swifts, Fence Lizards, Crevice Lizards, Blue-Bellies
- Reptiles and Amphibians of Oregon: Sceloporus Occidentalis: Some Notes on the Common Oregon Western Fence Lizard
- McDaniel College: Pacific Fence Lizards
- California Academy of Sciences: Lizards That Fight Lyme Disease