Mexican Alligator Lizard – Complete Care Guide.

Mexican Alligator Lizard

The Mexican alligator lizard is a reptile quite unique from others. It’s most famous for its eye-catching appearance. This lizard looks like as if it came out of an animated movie, Its bright green color, and the long tail is the most outstanding feature of its body.

Reptile pet keepers thrive to own this lizard as a pet, it does require some experience when it comes to keeping this lizard as a pet but you can easily master it with just a little bit of practice.

In the early ages, this species of lizard didn’t gain much popularity as it did in the present age.

Overview of Mexican alligator lizards.

nameMexican alligator lizard, Green arboreal alligator lizard
Scientific nameAbronia graminea
size6-12 inches
weight0.7 to 5 pounds
colorBright to yellowish green
lifespan10-20 years
Experience levelexperienced

Origin of Mexican lizards 

As the name speaks for itself, Mexican alligator lizards originate from Mexico and, they are also found in states like  Puebla, Veracruz, and Oaxaca. This lizard prefers living in forests; besides these states, they are also found in Central America.

The Mexican alligator lizard has a healthy natural environment, due to summer rains and a humid temperature. Finding the lizard in the wild is very challenging, since it is an endangered species. You can find this either in pet stores or at breeders.

They live in areas that are rich in forestry, you will find this reptile on the trees, usually, it also likes hiding in bushes.

Population and conversational status

The Mexican alligator lizards are endangered according to IUCN, this is mainly due to forest fires, deforestation, illegal trade, and hunting of this lizard for its skin and predators.

Its population is decreasing rapidly, the actual number of species left in the world is not known.


The Mexican alligator lizards are known for their prominent color and appearance, This is the reason behind why they gained popularity.

Mexican Alligator Lizard
Image Credit: Source


The size of this astonishing lizard is 6-12 inches tall, experts say that 50% of the size of this lizard comprises its tail and the rest is its upper body. The width of this lizard is 1.3 to 2 inches.


The color ranges from bright green to yellow green, the males usually possess a brighter green color while the females are on the duller side, such as dull green and dull yellow.

The dorsal side of the lizard is either light red or light green. Males have a light red bottom while males have a light green bottom.

Sometimes you may even find these lizards in blue color, but that’s a rare case.


This reptile has attractive patterns and scales all over its body, these patterns are usually in the form of dots or small boxes. This spreads from the tail to the mouth except for the eyes, the eyes have a yellow lining which makes them stand out from far away.

The dots merge in with the bark of the tree, and this makes it hard to distinguish the lizard and the tree, this is great when the lizards are trying to hide from predators.

Claws and legs.

The claws and legs of this lizard are small, but they are capable of grabbing onto a lot, the legs of this reptile are very strong and the tiny claws provide the lizard a lot of grips so it can grab onto things and climb trees as well.

Texture and head

The scales on the skin give it a rough texture, and the head is in a triangular shape which makes this lizard resemble alligators, the texture, and the triangular head are the reason why these lizards are named Mexican alligator lizards.


On average the weight of this lizard is 21 grams, but it fluctuates when you feed them. This also depends on the age of your lizard. Younger ones may weigh slightly less, while the elder ones tend to weigh more. The weight of a fully grown should remain 21 grams, a lizard weight more than this is considered obsessed, and it can cause many health diseases in your pet.

Lifespan of a Mexican alligator lizard.

In the wild, the lifespan of this lizard is shorter, due to the danger of being caught by humans or becoming the prey of other animals. In captivity the lifespan increases to about 20 years, this is because there is no danger of predators, and a better food environment and shelter are provided.

We can say that this can become a long-living pet with proper care.

Temperament of Mexican alligator lizards

This enchanting reptile is usually very calm and well-behaved, but the males do get territorial when other lizards try to invade its territory, it can also bite if it feels threatened.

The bite of this lizard is not venomous, but it can hurt, so try to handle it as little as possible and first, try to make it comfortable with its environment and enclosure, so it doesn’t feel threatened.

These lizards do not like being held a lot, so don’t overhandle them as they may try to escape.

Housing pet Mexican alligator lizards

A plastic cuboid vivarium or a self-cleaning vivarium are the best options for housing Mexican alligator lizards because they provide ventilation. The cage should have lots of airflows and be tall. The Mexican alligator lizard can climb and descend freely because of the height, and ventilation keeps the temperature balanced.

The majority of keepers concur that Abronia lizards demand “intermediate” or “advanced” levels of care in comparison to other lizard species that are maintained as pets more often.

Even though they have strict habitat requirements, they are a highly robust, healthy, and attractive species to maintain once you get a hang of it.

This species will attract viewers at first sight, and they will be pulled closer to it automatically looking at its color and appearance.

The Mexican alligator lizard is an arboreal species that dwell in big, tall trees, because of the tropical nature of its habitat, lizard caretakers should construct an enclosure that can resemble a forest canopy you can seek help from pet shop owners as they keep artificial plants and trees.

 Because they are tropical creatures, Mexican alligator lizards thrive in habitats that are both humid and warm despite this they can also survive in colder temperatures.


You can either keep a vivarium or an aquarium, make sure the vivarium or aquarium has holes in it so there is a proper system for ventilation. Although this lizard is not the biggest lizard out of all, it will still require a spacious enclosure as it likes to move around.

The aquarium for such a lizard should be shaped like a long box, its size should be at least 20 inches long, 30 inches wide, and 20 inches tall.

The size of the lizard doesn’t determine the size of the enclosure, in this case, the minimum size remains the same for babies as well as adult Mexican lizards.

A plastic enclosure is better when it comes to this lizard because it provides more ventilation as compared to the glass ones, and in case your aquarium or vivarium falls, it will have little to no chance of breaking and harming your pet.

A glass aquarium may fall if the lizard moves around too much. This can lead to the aquarium falling and shattering into pieces, not only will this make a mess, but it might as well harm your pet. hence, it is advised by experts to prioritize a plastic aquarium over a glass one.

Make sure the holes in your enclosure are not so big that the Mexican lizard escapes out of it, in the beginning, these lizards will try to escape the enclosure, so close the lid tightly.

Substrate and decorations.

For the substrate pick the closest one to the reptile’s actual habitat, so something with leaves, mud and Spanish moss could be incredible. Some more options to go for are peat moss, cypress, coconut coir, etc will prove beneficial as they absorb and retain moisture.

Because sphagnum moss holds moisture, which helps to maintain the proper amount of humidity, it is the best-recommended substrate. Burrowing Mexican alligator lizards prefer thick substrate layers, so provide several inches of that thickness, a 9–10 inches deep substrate is good enough.

Feel free to rearrange anything or add or remove habitat components as necessary. Finding the ideal arrangement is always a good idea to switch plants and add a new substrate, as long as you don’t do it too frequently.

Try to avoid hard, sharp, and sandy substrates as much as possible, as these reptiles do not like sharp edges at all, substrates like sand, crushed walnut, and gravel must be avoided at all costs.

For decoration, add a fake tree that is sturdy so your lizard can climb on it, cork, bark, and orchids also give a homelike touch to the enclosure and help the lizard feel closer to home.

You can also add vines in the enclosure they are easy to maintain, look aesthetic, retain moisture, and are inexpensive.


Temperature is very vital for the maintenance of the enclosure, you must also install a thermometer in the enclosure, heat is not very good for this reptile, so keep an eye on the thermometer at all times.

 The ideal temperature is 75 degrees Fahrenheit, Mexican alligator lizards also bask, so you must maintain a basking spot too, the temperature within the basking spot must be around 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

At night the temperature can further drop down to 60 degrees because these lizards can resist cold temperatures.


The humidity level should remain at 60–80%, this reptile sheds skin, that is why there must be the right amount of humidity, so there are no complications while shedding. The humidity levels can be kept constant by using a full-spectrum humidifier or an autonomous misting system.

Additionally, adding plants and using a high-quality substrate helps reduce humidity.

 Finding the ideal configuration that keeps things steady and prevents you from misting more than is necessary may need a little bit of trial and error.

You should spray the substrate at least once a day, so that you can maintain the humidity level.

You can fill a small spray bottle with water and then use it to spray your substrate.

Kee a hygrometer in your enclosure to measure the humidity levels, if your enclosure shows a high level of humidity, then you can skip spraying it with water.


This diurnal animal remains active during the day, most of the activities that this reptile performs are done during the day. This species of lizard requires sunlight to place its tank somewhere where it can get direct sunlight, also install UVB light in the enclosure so the reptile has a proper place to bask in, the lights must remain on for at least 12 hours. 

Roer right is necessary as it provides the reptile with color and vitamin D3.

Select a floodlight. A place where the lizard can soak up light is required. If you already have a UVB lamp for basking, you can simply add another one to provide your lizard with the entire spectrum of light. The UVA rays it needs will be provided by the basking light.

Put the lamp within the enclosure, but out of the lizard’s reach. The light must be kept away from the lizard to prevent burns, yet close enough to deliver efficient warmth. Check the specifications of the light before purchasing it.

Provide a place with a shade too, as your lizard will want to hide from the sun sometimes.

Change the light bulbs every six months.

Water requirement.

The crazy thing about this lizard is that it doesn’t need any sort of special care when it comes to providing it water, usually, it drinks the droplets of water it gets when you spray its enclosure with water.

This is great, it makes the lizard low maintenance, and you do not have to change the bowl of water regularly as you would with other reptiles.

Just make sure the water that you say is clean, you can boil the water to get rid of any harmful bacteria.

Besides this, if you still want to ensure that it is well hydrated, then you can place a small bowl of water in its enclosure, make sure to change the water on a daily basis if you keep it in its enclosure to avoid any infections.

Food and diet 

Mexican alligator lizards are insectivores, they eat bugs and insects mainly, but they can munch on some vegetables every once in a while.

Insects like silkworms, earthworms, crickets, cockroaches, butter worms, etc are commonly eaten by Mexican lizards. while getting these insects for your lizard, make sure that they are gut loaded as that’s better for your lizard.

The following insects are eaten by alligator lizards

Mealworms, Moths, Scorpions, Hornworms, Larvae of wasps, Crickets, Grasshoppers, Cockroaches, Centipedes, Tadpoles, Flies, Spiders, Eggs of Spiders, Snails, Slugs, Beetles, Worms of Wax.

Mexican Alligator Lizard food
Image Credit : Source

Also, vegetables like spinach and kale can be eaten by this lizard for an additional benefit. You can sprinkle some vitamin D3 supplement in powder form over the lizard’s meal, this helps in the bone growth of the reptile and prevents metabolic bone disorder.

Because fireflies, elder bugs, and luminous bugs can be poisonous to Mexican alligator lizards, they should not be fed to them. Lizards will consume water droplets that collect on the enclosure’s foliage and walls after sprinkling,  but you can add a bowl of pure water that keeps Mexican alligator lizards hydrated at all times.

In the wild these lizards hunt small mice and animals too, they basically eat whatever they can fit in their mouth in the wild, but considering them as your pet you must keep an eye on what they eat and maintain a proper diet.

Alligator lizards stalk their victim before striking or hunting them. They achieve this by digging in the ground and in trees. If they are kept in captivity, they must be provided with a particular substrate that allows them to dig.

Mexican Alligator Lizards require three feedings each week, while females cease eating a month before giving birth, and males consume significantly less during the mating season.

During the winter, all Mexican Alligator Lizards have a reduced appetite.

Mexican alligator lizards eat on fruit flies as babies and progress to little crickets as they age. 

Adults and juveniles consume giant crickets, super worms, hornworms, butterworms, silkworms, and locusts. Feed infants every day, juveniles every other day, and adults three times each week.

Health issues 

Mexican alligator lizards are prone to some diseases, like most other Lizards the Mexican lizards also face metabolic bone disorders, parasitic infections, and respiratory disorders 

Metabolic bone disorder 

If your Mexican Alligator lizard doesn’t consume the right amount of vitamins such as vitamin D3 along with calcium and phosphorus, then it can lead to metabolic bone disease in this disease the bones become very weak and fragile, your pet starts becoming soft and malformed, this can also lead to paralysis and lethargy. 

Some signs of this disease in your pet are laziness, softly curved legs, and limping. 

Although it might seem hard to treat this disease, it’s quite easy, all you need to do is give calcium and vitamin D3 supplements to your reptile in its food, keep in mind that sunlight is very crucial so do let your reptile cage near sunlight too, so that it can absorb vitamin D from the sun directly.

Respiratory infections

Respiratory infections in Mexican alligator lizards are caused by a rise and fall in temperature and humidity conditions in the cage. Bacterial infections, parasites, and stress from handling your lizard are all potential causes of respiratory illnesses. A respiratory illness is characterized by wheezing, bubbles in the mouth, lack of appetite, and fatigue.

Maintaining the necessary temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of 60 percent, correct husbandry, and sanitizing the cage are all treatments for respiratory infections in Mexican alligator lizards. Antibiotic treatment will aid in the elimination of the illness, and stress reduction through good handling, feeding, and housing will benefit the lizards, go to a vet when you want to get an antibiotic for your pet.

Parasitic infections 

Mexican alligator lizards too are susceptible to parasite illnesses induced by inadequate food, husbandry, and drinking contaminated water. Cryptosporidiosis and C varanii are prevalent parasites in wild Mexican alligator lizards.

Indigestion, decreased appetite, bloating, diarrhea, gastrointestinal discomfort, and weakness are all symptoms of parasite infection.

Anthelmintics, a medicine that destroys parasites in the body, are used to treat parasitic illnesses in Mexican alligator lizards. To assist the lizards to recuperate, sterilizing the cage, and providing more diverse food.

If you see any of the signs of parasitic infections, then take your reptile to the vet rather than trying to cure it on your own.

If the infections go on uncured, it can even cause the death of the retile so take plenty of care.

Handling Mexican Alligator Lizards

One thing to keep in mind while buying this lizard as a pet is that you must not handle it or touch it, this lizard doesn’t adore physical touch and bites if it feels threatened or if it is being handled a lot.

Although its bite is not poisonous, it does hurt, some people call it the worst non-poisonous bite out of all reptiles, if this lizard bites you, that specific area may swell and hurt.

This means that this species of reptile requires gentle handling and prefers staying alone.

If you do have to hold your lizard while transferring it into another enclosure, you can handle the Mexican alligator lizard by placing one hand beneath its belly and the other palm on top of its body. Allow the lizard to wrap its prehensile tail around your fingers and move around your palm. Hold the lizard for a few minutes until it is at ease and feels safe.

To avoid stress, return the lizard to its enclosure after handling as soon as possible. Stress can weaken the lizard, rendering it prone to disease and altering its behavior. Stress can also be caused by the presence of a predator, a loud environment, or thirst, so look out for them.

When handling your pet try to wear gloves or wash your hands immediately after handling it as you may get salmonella from your pet, this is a bacterial infection transferred by pets it causes stomach aches and other skin infections.


The Mexican alligator lizard reaches the age of sexual maturity at just two years, this reptile breeds in the month of September October, and November, which means that this reptile breeds in the colder seasons 

This lizard do not lay eggs, it gives birth to living baby lizards, Hence they are vapors.

The breeding procedure begins with making sure the lizards are healthy. Provide cool temperatures, a clean environment, and a variety of feed for the lizards. For breeding lizards, a 50-gallon tank outside in a shady location with a loose, damp substrate works ideal.

When this reptile is breeding you must lower the temperatures to 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity level must stay constant at 70%.

For breeding, introduce the male lizard in the enclosure with female lizards for a few weeks. You can keep more than one female and one male. The male lizard mates when the female shows signals, leaving the lizards alone during this time.

Mexican alligator lizards have a gestation period of 6-8 months. Females get pregnant obviously, with bloated abdomens and chalk sacs along both sides of their cheeks. The gravid females would dig short tunnels in the substrate to establish their nests.

The diet during this time must be rich in proteins and nutrients, you can give them crickets as they are rich in protein, and ensure that the temperatures remain calm at all times.

After birth, juvenile Mexican alligator lizards will blend with the substrate. After a few days, the newborns will begin to move around to explore their environment. Feed newborn Mexican alligator lizards, fruit flies, and pinhead crickets, and keep the cage temperature between 78°F and 70-80 percent humidity.

Temperatures above 85°F can cause mortality in baby Mexican alligator lizards. Keep male and other adult Mexican alligator lizards away from infants. Other adult lizards may eat or torment the young. Keep babies in groups of three or two until they attain sexual maturity and then separate their enclosures to avoid any fights or further breeding.

Housing other reptiles with Mexican alligator lizards.

You can house more than one Mexican alligator lizard together, just make sure they are of the same size so that they both do not try to prey upon each other, a combination of two females and one male is good, male Mexican alligator lizards are territorial so avoid keeping two males together.

Try not to keep other reptiles along with this lizard, as it may feel uncomfortable and other reptiles may try to harm it, this lizard can also eat smaller reptiles, so avoid housing it with other pets.


A clean enclosure not only keeps the pet safe, but it also speaks about the pet and the owner, if the enclosure remains clean it presents a pleasing outlook to the viewer and provides a good environment for the pet to live in. 

A clean enclosure requires daily spot cleaning, spot cleaning after every meal, and removing excess uneaten food. 

Removing uneaten food is important, if you let that food remain, it will rot and cause an increase in bacterial and parasitic infection chances.

You should deep clean the enclosure every two months, for this transfer the pet into another tank gently, then wash the aquarium or vivarium with water and soap, rinse and let it dry off, also change the substrate, and clean the decorations.

If you are using disinfectants and chemicals to clean the enclosure make sure to rinse thoroughly.


It is completely legal to get Mexican alligator lizards as pets in most countries, you can find them at reptile pet stores or reptile breeders, with the increase of online pet stores, you can even get this pet online.

Just make sure to read your country’s rules regarding getting lizards as pets or simply ask the breeders about it.


This enchanting creature costs about 150-350 dollars depending on the age and size, you may wonder why it’s pricey, this is because these lizards are in great demand and are also endangered.

The price is worth it, as it is a one-time expense.

The enclosure, food, and substrate will cost you 200 dollars only.


The Mexican alligator lizards are preeminent creatures, and well-behaved pets, they require a specific kind of enclosure and habitat which may confuse you at first but with proper research and practice with handling other reptiles, you can concur handling this pet too.

This species is endangered so we must play our part in breeding and taking care of it so its population can take a turn and increase.

 This is a long-living pet, so it is definitely worth investing in, many pet owners have dropped positive reviews about this pet claiming that it has given a great pop of color to their pet collection and also made their homes more lively.


How fast do Mexican alligator lizards run?

Mexican alligator lizards can run as fast as 10 mph.

Do Mexican alligator lizards prove to be good pets?

Mexican alligator lizards are popular among intermediate and professional reptile keepers. Be warned that these lizards are capable of being violent, so you must be gentle. While they are not dangerous, they can bite and take portions of your flesh if bitten. Staff that works with these lizards in zoos report that the bites are among the most painful they have ever experienced, Other than this they are pretty good pets.

Why are Mexican alligator lizards endangered?

Mexican alligator lizards are in peril for at least two causes. In the course of the illicit pet trade, a lot are caught and sold to those who smuggle the animals into the country. Due to the fragile biosystem being disrupted and potential long-term effects, this is bad for the ecosystem.

Additionally, the loss of their environment puts these lizards in peril. In addition to Mexican alligator lizards, pollinators are quite important in these young woods. Many creatures, like the Mexican alligator lizard, may perish if the delicate equilibrium is disturbed.

Are Mexican alligator lizards considered carnivores or herbivores?

Mexican alligator lizards are considered both carnivores and herbivores as they eat insects mainly but every once in a while they eat vegetables like kale and spinach too.

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