Virginia, United States
Michigan, United States
Species group: Chuckwallas
Other name: Chukawalla
Scientific name: Sauromalus obesus
Range/Habitat: Chuckwallas are native to the arid regions of north Mexico, southwest United States, and the coastal areas but most specifically in the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts and the Great Basin. They inhabit rocky hillsides, lava flows, rocky outcrops, and dry land where drought-resistant plants grow.
Size and Coloration: Chuckwallas are large lizards that grow up to 16 inches in length. They are robust, with flattened wide bellies and thick blunt tails. The skin has a granular texture and loosely folded on the neck and sides of the body. Males have body colors ranging from light gray to yellow-orange and reddish pink. Head and limbs are usually black. They also have the characteristic femoral pores on the thighs. Females have spotted markings and light and dark bands of yellow or gray.
Caging: The large Chuckwalla is best kept in a large dry desert-type cage with rocky formations that are stable enough for the lizard to climb, bask, or dig under for hiding. A 2- to 4-inch substrate of sand and gravel would be ideal for their burrowing nature. A small water bowl should be provided for drinking. Day temp: 86-100F; night temp: 64-68F; basking temp: 104F; lighting: 14 hours, UV radiation required
Captive Care: Chuckwallas are best kept in pairs or groups with only one male. A good misting in the morning, once or twice a week is recommended. Under ideal conditions, Chuckwallas may have a lifespan of about 25 years.
Breeding: Mating season is from April to July. Clutches of 5-12 eggs are laid in June to August. Eggs hatch in September to November.
Diet: Chuckwallas are primarily herbivorous, so they can be fed flowers (dandelions, brittlebush), leaves (herbs, lettuce), soft fruit (berries, grapes, bananas), and chopped vegetables (celery, carrots). Sometimes they will feed on insects (grasshoppers) and worms. Mineral supplements are recommended.
Temperament: When food is abundant, and several males are present, a dominant Chuckwalla will claim his territory (by changing colors, head bobbing and opening the mouth). Territoriality is conditional and mostly ignored during lean times. Juvenile Chuckwallas acclimate to captive environments easier than adults. When threatened, a Chuckwalla runs towards rocky crags and sneaks into a tight crevice and inhales to inflate its body and wedge itself so that predators can’t pull it out.
Feeding (1 video)