2- The common chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater)
The common chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater) is a species of lizard in the family Iguanidae. It inhabits the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts of the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Its range extends from eastern California, Utah, and Nevada south to Baja California and Sonora.
desert conditions; they are active at temperatures up to 102°F (39°C). Chuckwallas brumate during cooler months and emerge in February.
Mating occurs from April to July, with five to 16 eggs laid between June and August. The eggs hatch in late September.
Primarily herbivorous, the chuckwalla eats creosote bush flowers, leaves, fruit, and occasionally insects.
Conservation status :
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification :
Binomial name :
Sauromalus obesus (Baird, 1859)
The common name "chuckwalla" (or chuckawalla) is derived from the Shoshone word tcaxxwal, or caxwal, the form used by the Cahuilla of southeastern California.
Its generic name, sauromalus, is a combination of two Ancient Greek words:σαῦρος (sauros) meaning "lizard" and ομαλυς (omalus) meaning "flat". Its specific name is ater, Latin for "black" or "dark"
Its original epithet was Sauromalus obesus; although that name is no longer officially recognized, it is still very common in the literature and it remains in many standard natural history references for North America. In 1998, Bradford D. Hollingsworth examined variations in Sauromalus and concluded that only five species should be recognized. He regarded S. obesus as conspecific with S. ater, and he used S. ater, which has priority, as the specific name of the combined taxon. No subspecies of S. ater are currently recognized. Based primarily on the extensive use of the name S. obesus, a petition to give that name precedence over that of S. ater was submitted to the ICZN.However, this reasoning was dubious and the priority of S. ater was maintained. In 2004, ICZN ruled that the name Sauromalus ater was first described by zoologist Auguste Duméril in 1856, thus had precedence over the name Sauromalus obesus which was not named until 1858 by Baird.
The common chuckwalla is a large, flat-bodied lizard with a large, rounded belly, and a wide-based, blunt-tipped tail. Reaching a total length of 20 in and a weight of .9 kg (2.0 lb). Small scales cover its body, with larger scales protecting the ear openings. The coloration of these lizards varies by location and between juveniles and adults, as well as between males and females. In adult males, the head, shoulder, and pelvic regions are black, while the midbody is light tan speckled with brown. Adult females are brownish in color with a scattering of dark red spots. Young chuckwallas have four or five broad bands across their bodies, and three or four on the tail which are lost in adulthood by males, but retained somewhat by females.
Harmless to humans, these lizards are known to run from potential threats. When disturbed, the chuckwalla gulps air, distends its body, and wedges itself into a tight rock crevice to entrench itself.
Males are seasonally and conditionally territorial; an abundance of resources tends to create a hierarchy based on size, with one large male dominating the area's smaller males. Chuckwallas use a combination of color and physical displays, namely "push ups", head-hobbing, and gaping of the mouth to animal communicationcommunicate and defend their territory.
Chuckwallas are diurnal animals, and as they are ectothermic, spend much of their mornings and cooler days basking. These lizards are well adapted to
Approximate range of S. ater
Common chuckwalla Sauromalus ater at Bristol Zoo, England
For the external links , refrences click here to read the full wikipedia article
Angry Chuckwalla Lizard - We Catch This Rare Reptile In Remote Nevada
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Care Articles :
1- SAUROMALUS ATER
courtesy to : www.agamen.nl/Engels/iguana/sauromalusater.html
The distribution of the Sauromalus ater,also called Chuckwalla is from the eastern dessert side of the mountains in Southern California - east, up to central Arizona. The northern boundary of the area lies in the far south of Nevada and Utah, the southern border of the habitat is the Western Sonora until Guayamas in Mexico. Chuckwallas also live on a number of islands in the Gulf of California.
The climate is characterised as a semi-desert to desert climate with large temperature differences between day and at night time. The area is very dry. The habitat consists mostly of rocks, but there are always places with sand nearby for the females to lay eggs. The Chuckwalla is very territorial, and live alone or in small groups of 1 man and several females. From December to March, they will hybernate. Chuckwallas are diurnal animals, mosly found basking on the rocks during the day. They will retreat to their caves when they sence any danger or when the temperatures get too high.
Sauromalus ater SVL is about 10 inches and they have a tail thats about the same length as the SVL. An adult Chuckwalla weighs about 385 grams. The colors of this lizard will differ from location to location. Most common chuckwallas have a light brown base color with dark or black spots. They are sturdy, strong lizards wich wedge themselves between the rocks by blowing up their body. If they do so they can be very hard to get out of their refuge.
Chuckwallas are sun loving animals, and they are really active during the day, so it is recommended to provide a large enclosure (minimum 1m2) The bigger the enclosure the easyer it is to keep a temperature gradient that is good for these lizards. By making a backwall in the enclosure with several different levels you can create extra floor space. Playsand can be used as substrate, but also a claysand mix with sand or peat.
Provide a proper decorated woestijnterrarium, you can use rocks or flagstones,etc, (make sure to secure them well so they can not fall and crush the animal) but also lighter material as stumps, branches and bark is used. provise adequate shelters (min. 1 per animal). Chuckwallas love narrow hides, keep this in mind when decorating your enclosure.
As Chuckwallas are true sun lovers there can never be an excess of light in the cage. For the heating of my terrarium I use a 60 watt flood lamp, and a 100 Watt UVB lamp. In order to create the right temperature gradient you must have more than 1 lamp. An average daily temperature should range between 30 ° C-32 ° C. Under the baskingspot the temperature can go up to 55 ° C +, under the other spot 45 ° C. It’s important to have a temperature gradient in your enclosure, in other words make sure you have a hot spot for the animal to bask, and a cool end so your chuckwalla can regulate his own temperature. In the cooler places and in some shelters, the approximately 25 ° C to 29 ° C, rising to 55 + ° C below the warmest lamp. A nachttemperatuur of 15 ° to 20 ° is enough, so you probably do not have to worry about the night temps. During the summer months, I keep the lights on for approximately 12-14 hours a day. In winter times I slowly reduce this lighting to 6-8 hours of light a day.
Very important in the chuckwalla enclosure is an UVB light bulb, I use a 100W Megaray. Due to the UVB the animal will create D3 wich is important for its health. Besides that, lizards are able to see more colors than humans, some of wich are in the UVB spectrum.
My animals get a nice and fresh greens salad everyday. Main component of this salad is endive. Supplemented with paksoi, beansprouts, various types of lettuce, chicory, alfalfa, grated carrots, dandelion (if any) grated pumpkin etc.. In the enclosure there also is a dish with bird seeds, red lentils and bee pollen, which are also eagerly taken. As a treat I give them a grasshopper once and a few times a year. I supplement my greens every second feeding with a vitamin / calcium supplement.
The humidity in the terrarium is low. One of the shelters can be kept slightly moist so that the animals can withdraw to it when they need. Normally, the animals will take the necessary moisture from the food (greens) offered. I do not have a waterdish in the enclosure, and did not offer any water the last 2 years, and I seldom spray the enclosure. I always offer fresh moistered greens dayly. If your female is pregnant or the animal is sick you can offer a small and shallow dish with water.
I have bred this species about every year since 2006. In January 2006 my female chuck showed some traces that mating did happen, and began to eat more and got really really big. Eventually on June 14, 2006 10 eggs were laid. I had made 3 different nestboxes, with slightly moistered sand, and put them in different places in the enclosure so she could pick the perfect temperature for her eggs. Eventually, she used 1 of them, and then completely covered it with sand, almost all the sand in the cage was moved to the nestbox.
Incubation of the eggs
The eggs were removed from the nestingbox and placed in slightly moistered vermucilite in my incubator. For these dessert animals I use pretty dry vermucelite, and I will add some water when I see the eggs collapse a little. On August 28, 2006 the first animal came out off the egg. No. 2, 3 and 4 followed the next day. The last egg hatched the 3th of September. The eggs were at a constant temperature between 30-32 degrees in a so called “dry” incubator (Jeager), and hatched after approximatly 75-80 day. All 10 eggshatched, which is a good result, but unfortunately 3 animals were very weak and a month later 2 of them died. The third one that died lived for a little longer but did not eat by itselve and was to weak to survive. The remaining 7 animals did really good, and went to an other home after 5 to 7 months.
raising the juveniles is roughly the same as the care of the adult animals. The first 2 / 3 months are very important, if the will survive this period, they will probably grow into beautifull big chucks. The young animals can be raised together the first 3 months, be carefull to watch them closely for agression, and make sure all animals are eating properly. The slightly weaker animals must be seperated so that they can get extra attention. It is wise to give your juveniles the fresh droppings of the adult animals the will eat from it wich will be good for the germs in their stomach intestines. It is also said to be nutritious for them. In addition, they eat the same as the adult chucks. But I have a small dish of water in the enclosure of the young animals, and I spray it twice a week lightly, so they can lick the drops of the enclosure walls. By spraying around the waterdish, you will trigger the small chuckwallas to drink from the static water in the cup.
These young CB animals can be very "tame", because they are used to the interaction with humans.
The Sauromalus is a lively lizard and will adapt well to captivity lizard, provided that the optimal conditions for this animal will be created concerning housing, food, health, acclimatization and heat / light. Especially for the advanced hobbyist this animal is a beautiful challenge, especially because for a healthy captive population we will need a lot more breeding results.
Michel and I will take over the Studbook for this species from Henk Zwartepoorte. Because this species in nature is not threatened, and Henk did not have enough time, this Studbook was slightly less active last year. Together, we hope to give the Studbook Sauromalus a new impuls and we want to see how the Chuckwalla is doing in captivity. The studbook / breeding program is really about keeping a healthy population of animals in captivity. By keeping a record of the animals and the breeding a healthy growth of this population may be achieved. The Studbook is also to ensure that knowledge is transferred among members of the studbook, so we can take even better care for our captive chucks. This way not everyone has to find out everything by himselve, questions can be asked at the Studbook keepers and they will try to find the answers whithin the Studbook.
Desert Lizards Captive Husbandry and Propagation (by Randall L. Gray) Krieger Publishing Company Malabar Florida (ISBN 1-57524-160-9)
Sauromalus & Dipsosaurus Verzamelnummer (SDGL / different authors)
Reptilia (The european herp magazine) No 48 The Genus Sauromalus with notes on keeping and breeding Sauromalus ater (author Harry Wölfel)
2- Chuckawalla and Desert Iguana
Sauromalus ater, Dipsosaurus dorsalis
courtesy to : www.anapsid.org/dichuck.html
©1996, 2001 Melissa Kaplan
Distribution And Range:
Chuckawalla (Sauromalus obesus). Desert regions ranging from southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, western Arizona, Mojave and Sonoran deserts, and Baja California. The chuckawalla prefers the rockier elevations (up to 4500 ft) though they are also common in lower elevations. As with other diurnal lizards, they may be found sunning on exposed boulders or rocks; several of them may be found basking together.
The name chuckawalla (or chuckwalla) is derived from the Shoshone word "tcaxxwal" or "caxwal," the form used by the Cahuilla Indians of southeastern California and originally written in Spanish as "chacahuala." - San Diego Natural History Museum
Desert Iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis). Desert regions ranging from southern Nevada, western Arizona, east-central California, down into Baja California, and Sonora and Sinaloa in Mexico. In the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, this lizard is found in the sandy flats and hummocks typical of the creosote woodlands. The desert iguana is often found in the vicinity of creosote bushes, which provide food and shelter and the burrows of kangaroo rates, used by the iguanas to hide from predators. The burrow are also used to avoid the the hottest part of the hot desert days.
The chuckawallas may reach up to 18 inches (45.8 cm) STL, making them the second largest U.S. lizard (the gila monster, Heloderma horridum, being the largest). Their chunky body (its former species name was aptly obesus = obese) is about equal in SVL to their tail length.
The desert iguanas reaches about 16 inches (40 cm) STL, with their SVL at about 4-5 inches (10-12.7 cm). While it has the same overall body and head shape as the chuckawalla, desert iguanas are less massy overall, with a finer head.
by Wayne Van Devender
Very stout, flattened dorsoventrally (omalus/homalus = flat). Short rounded tail encircled with slightly keeled scales; rough sandpapery skin. Lacks the dorsal crest or ridge common to other iguanids, such as the desert iguana. Defends self by crawling into tight crevice and inflating itself with air, wedging itself firmly inside. Can only be removed by killing it or dismantling the rock structure (a very good reason to get your chuck habituated to human contact!). Vary in color from deep, dark brown, to dark head with orangy body. Tail may be ringed with black and white bands. Like to bask up on rocks where they can survey their surroundings.
by Wayne Van Devender
Stout bodied; may inflate body with air when disturbed. Short dorsal crest. Long, round, thick tail; can drop and regenerate. Dewlap on neck. Legs thick and powerful; a very fast runner. Ground color of light brown marked with irregular bars and spots of which; sides and belly pale or white. At a distance, the effect may be of an all white lizard; the result is that this lizard blends in quite well with its native sandy, rocky areas.
As these are desert lizards, they require a desert environment. A large enclosure (100 gallon or larger) is ideal.
Clean playground sand (available in 50 lb bags at hardware stores) makes an appropriate substrate when poured to a depth of 3 inches. The sand can be mixed with larger rock particles, such as clean gravel.
Flat rock for climbing basking; cholla cactus skeleton or other structure for climbing on or hiding under help vary the habitat and create microenvironments. At least one hiding area should be placed in the cool end of the enclose, and one in the warm. It is not unusual to find diurnal desert species hunkered down in a cooler burrow, cave or deep rocky crevice during the hottest part of the day. Provide such areas for your lizards to enable them to behaviorally thermoregulate as they would in the wild, which will ultimately reduce the total load of stress related to being in captivity.
When using rocks or other heavy objects, place them directly on the enclosure floor, building the sandy/gravelly substrate up around them. Use aquarium silicone cement to glue the different rocks used to create mounds or caves together. Securing them in these ways will help ensure your lizard does not become mush if any of the structures collapse on them when the lizards burrow under the sand.
Place a small dish of water in the coolest corner. Desert animals are adept at finding and exploiting water resources, so the chuckawalla and desert iguana will soon learn what that bowl of water is for. Since they cannot tell you when they are thirsty, keep the bowl in there all the time. Placing the bowl on the cool side of the enclosure will help keep the overall humidity down.
The creosote bush (also known as chaparral, and greasewood) plays an important roe in the desert iguana life. They eat the leaves and flowers, and burrow around the roots and rocks around the base of the plant for shelter and to avoid predators. You may be able to find seedlings for sale at plant nurseries, especially ones specializing in native flora. Since they require a rather damp rooting medium, it would be best to set the potted creosotes into the sand and cover with a layer of gravel or rock both to keep the damp in the pot and providing some support when the lizards come to eat. Additional information on plants, including suggestions for desert habitats, can be found in the Plants page.
Coming from similar environments and exploiting the same microhabitats, they both require a thermal gradient ranging from the low 80s F(26 C) on cool side up to 100 F (37 C) on the warm side. In addition, they require a basking area of up to 110 F (46 C) to enable them to reach their preferred body temperature.
At night, the basking area is shut off, and the thermal gradient is allowed to drop to the 60-high 70s F (15.6-25 C).
At night, you will probably need to use an appropriate nonwhite light producing heat source to be able to provide the nighttime thermal gradient they require. Options include a nocturnal reptile light or a ceramic heating element.
Note that herbivorous lizards' digestive systems start optimum working at 88-90 F, so having the proper thermal gradient established will enable them to thermoregulate to attain and maintain the temperatures they need day and night.
Do not guess at the temperatures - use thermometers or other temperature reading devices to regularly monitor the warm and cool end day and night, and the basking area temperatures during the day.
High need for UV lighting. Use two UVB-producing fluorescents, such as the Durotest Vita-Lite (the Powertwists provide more UV than their regular smooth tubes) or Zoo Med Reptile light (5.0+).
The UV-producing lights, as well as the daytime white light/basking lamps should be placed on a timer with a 12-14 hours on, 10-12 hours off schedule.
UVB disperses quite rapidly requiring that these fixtures - with their lights not filtered through glass, plastic or dense mesh - be installed no farther than 12" from the lizard. The UVB-tube should extend across the enclosure, with the basking lamp mounted close enough to it in the warm end so that basking lizards get both the heat and UVB exposure.
Various sources disagree. Many of the ones that point towards any omnivory are, for the most part, based on the personal accounts by those who keep these species in captivity. Since I first developed this article in 1996, wherein I wrote:
Slightly omnivorous. Leafy dark greens (collards, mustards, dandelions, escarole, parsley, grasses (pesticide free!), shredded green and orange vegetables, soft fruits, flowers such as hibiscus, roses, dandelions, nasturtium, geranium (leaves and flower heads). Cactus pads (trimmed) and prickly pear. Insects (worms, crickets) and, for larger lizards, mouse pinks, provide occasional animal-based protein.
Herbivorous. Leafy dark greens (collards, mustards, dandelions, escarole, parsley, grasses (pesticide free!), shredded green and orange vegetables, soft fruits, flowers such as hibiscus, roses, dandelions, nasturtium, geranium (leaves and flower heads). Cactus pads (trimmed) and prickly pear. Supplement with multivitamin and calcium supplement.
I have come to another conclusion, based in large part upon what I have learned about the misinformation that self-perpetuated itself through the years about green iguanas, and the research of John Iverson and others who have spent years studying iguanines. Trained observations of wild desert iguanas and chuckawallas, as well as analysis of gut contents and structure of their colon, all point to these lizards being completely herbivorous at all life stages.
However, it has been reported by some desert iguana keepers that, when coming out of hibernation, their lizards seem to require some crickets to get them interested again in eating their plant food. This doesn't necessarily make them omnivores as stress-induced behavior (and make no mistake about it: captivity is stressful, no matter how good the conditions of captivity) does not make that behavior "normal". It may mean that, in order to get a quick burst of energy, these most northern of the desert/tropical iguanids consume small amounts of animal matter, moving back to a strictly herbivorous diet a week or so out of hibernation.
If anyone has research which documents omnivory, or any ontologenetic shift from carnivory or omnivory to herbivory, in wild populations (which does not include lizards lounging around tourist spots), I would be very interested in a copy of the article(s) or its citation.
Because of the problems associated with captive herbivorous reptiles getting sufficient calcium and manufacturing enough D3, the importance of properly installed UVB-producing lights in conjunction with feeding a healthy diet, and supplementing with multivitamin and calcium (especially females who may become gravid), cannot be stressed enough.
The chests, heads and limbs of the common chuckawalla males are generally black, flecked or spotted with gray. The rest of their body is red or light gray, depending on age and local, and the tail, yellow. Females tend to retain their juvenile banding. Young chucks are crossbanded around the body and tail, with the bands on the tail being most conspicuous. In Utah, all adults are banded. The male western chuckawallas have more uniformly colored crossbands and adult male body color is often suffused with red. Breeding is in April-May, with clutches of 5-16 eggs laid in June-July.
There is little in the way of sexual dimorphism in desert iguanas. Both get pinkish to buff patches on their sides when in breeding season. Sexually mature males will have the enlarged hemipenal bulge at the base of the tail. Breeding is in April-June, with clutches of 2-8 eggs laid a month or so later, hatchlings emerging in July-August. Desert iguanas may double clutch.
Generally speaking, the lizards dig tunnels in which they lay their eggs. Hatchlings are 3-4 inches (7.-10 cm).
As winter sets in and temperatures become too low and food sources are greatly reduced in availability, desert reptiles head into a hibernaculum to hibernate (or brumate) through the coldest winter months. Just as being too hot can ultimately be lethal, so can being too cold, so care must be taken when altering the reptile's environment to promote a period of hibernation or brumation
In general, desert lizards can withstand enclosure temperatures down to 50-55 F (10-12.8 C). If the ambient room air temperature in which the enclosure is kept falls below this temperature, supplemental heating to must be provided to ensure that temperatures do not fall below this level. Hibernation starts somewhere in November and may extend through February/March.
To ensure that the lizard does not enter the period of low temperatures with food still in its digestive system, the lizards should not be allowed to enter into hibernation/brumation after eating their usual amount of food. While wild chucks and desert iguanas have been found with some digesta still in their proximal colon, care must be taken that the gut isn't full as, during the prolonged period of cold temperatures, the gut activity slows to a stop, but decomposition of the food may occur.
The change in season can be artificially provided by the gradual lowering of the hot temperatures of "summer", in combination with increasing the length of the night period and decreasing the day length, during the fall and early winter. Make sure they have water available during this time. Begin increasing day length and increasing temperatures as day length and temperatures begin to rise in the late winter/early spring.
It is not known how biologically important it is for chuckawallas and desert iguanas to hibernate/brumate during the winter. Not undergoing an annual hibernation/brumation may ultimately have no effect that could result in early death or disease. Or, it might. It may or may not have any bearing on whether the hormonal changes associated with breeding season and mating will be triggered appropriately or not.
Have fresh water available for the lizard and the normal temperatures and day length ready to go for when the lizard emerges from hibernation. It is not unusual for them to be a bit sluggish for a couple of days, as their metabolism and other systems adjust to the change. Offer fresh food as well, once they are out, replacing it daily if not eaten. If they haven't started to eat by the third day or so, try offering a pungent herb or, if available, creosote leaves. This may act to stimulate feeding.
Other points to keep in mind...
Keep males alone or in harem groups.
Femoral pore plugs used to mark territories. Secretions/rubbings detected both chemosensorily as well as visually.
Tail autotomy occurs in both species.
Chucks are able to evade predators by entering a rocky crevice and taking a deep breath, bloating their body size, effectively wedging themselves in the space, making it difficult to impossible for a predator (or lizard keeper) to dislodge them without deconstructing the rocks forming the crevice.
Both species, along with other desert species, should be considered species of special concern due to the continued development of desert areas for human habitation and business as well as the deleterious effects of recreational and other human noise pollution.
Case, Ted J. 1988. Ecology and evolution of the insular gigantic chuckawallas, Sauromalus hispidus and Sauromalus varius. In, Burghardt GM and Rand AS (eds.) Iguanas of The World: Their Behavior, Ecology and Conservation. Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ.
TIGR Reptile Database
Iverson, John. 1988. Adaptations to herbivory in iguanine lizards. In, Burghardt GM and Rand AS (eds.) Iguanas of The World: Their Behavior, Ecology and Conservation. Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ.
Nagy, Kenneth A. 2001. Food requirements of wild animals: predictive equations for free-living mammals, reptiles, and birds. Nutrition Abstracts and Reviews, Series B 71, 21R-31R.
Obst, F. J., et al. 1988. Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians. TFH Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.
Ryan, Michael J. 1988. Variation in igunanine social organization: Mating systems in chuckawallas (Sauromalus). In, Burghardt GM and Rand AS (eds.) Iguanas of The World: Their Behavior, Ecology and Conservation. Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ.
San Diego Museum of Natural History: Sauromalus ater and Dipsosaurus dorsalis.
Stebbins, Robert C. 1985. Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
Wynne, Richard H.. 1989. Lizards in Captivity. TFH Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.
IGUANA -- Introduction
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IGUANA -- Introduction