Chuckwallas as Pets: 13 Questions & Answers (Explained)

Chuckwallas as Pets-Everything You Need to Know

The Chuckwalla is a reptile, home to the family of Iguanidae. These scaly textured lizards are known to camouflage their bodies to the color of nearby rocks/trees to assist them in scouting prey.

You will find Chuckwallas primarily living in desert locations, scattered throughout the Southern parts of America moving through to Mexico. Apart from the fact that they’re usually found in the wild, they can also be found inside of homes, usually as pets for humans.

Prey and Predators | Chuckwallas

Usually timid (depending on the circumstances), the Chuckwalla can find themselves in heavy heat when chasing after prey or running from dangerous predators…

When it comes to predators, the Chuckwalla will either run their way out of a bad situation or attempt to seek refuge by wedging themselves into tight crevices, such as between rocks or cliffs.

Predators (potential) include:

More often than not a Chuckwalla will use their incredible camouflaging ability to scout out their prey. With the ability to disguise themselves and leap from rock to rock with great speed, it’s quite common for a Chuckwalla to eat plants or nearby vegetation instead of wasting their energy on insects.

Prey (potential):

  • Insects such as; Ants, flies, or similar

Chuckwallas | Dominance and Territory

When it comes to dominance and territory, the Chuckwalla lizard can teach you a thing or two.

It is highly uncommon to see two male Chuckwallas within proximity of each other, due to their prepotent nature. For this reason alone, pet owners never keep two males together or in the same cage (unless they wanted to fight each other to death).

The Chuckwalla is also known for showcasing their impressive skills off, not only male to male but the ladies as well. They do this by performing “push-ups”. Yes… push-ups!

If a male Chuckwalla is looking to mate with a female, or if they’re trying to guard their territory against a threat (another male Chuckwalla); You’ll begin to see the reptile doing animal push-ups… an intriguing observation indeed.

Do Chuckwallas Make Good Pets?

When deciding if a Chuckwalla is the right pet for yourself and your family, you may want to consider a few things before making the big purchase.

Generally speaking, Chuckwallas can make as good pets to have, considering you are willing to take on the responsibility of owning one.

Owning a reptile isn’t like owning a common household pet such as a cat or dog. They’re usually classified as exotic pets with specific needs that require long-term attention, care, and money.

If you’re looking to purchase an animal for yourself; You’re willing and able to care for this animal long-term (10 years plus) then a Chuckwalla can be a fun and interesting challenge to take on, especially if you’re a first-timer reptile owner.

However, if you’re thinking about purchasing a Chuckwalla or similar reptile for a child/family member/friend; You should be absolutely sure they can afford the responsibilities that come with owning one.

Becoming a Chuckwalla owner can become a life-long, great experience and they’re rewarding/intriguing pets to have in your life.

How Long Can a Chuckwallas Live?

If you’re curious to know the period of a Chuckwallas life for whatever reason, you may be happy to know that the minimum time a Chuckwalla can live while in captivity or the wild is 10 years.

Of course, your Chuckwalla may live longer and this is only the average minimum length of timespan. Depending on your reptiles health, living conditions, food availability, as well as limited predations, can all play different factors.

Fun Fact: The oldest known Chuckwalla to live while in captivity, reached 65 years and the oldest known Chuckwalla to live while in the wild reached 30 years!

How Much is a Chuckwalla?

If you’re located in the United States, the average price for a single Chuckwalla is $80 – $250 USD onwards.

This price can depend on the state you live in as well as the particular breed of Chuckwalla you’re wanting.

Other costs you may want to factor when thinking about purchasing a Chuckwalla are:

  • Adequate Cage/Tank
  • Food
  • Lighting
  • Heating
  • VETS
  • Habitat replication
  • Nesting essentials (If considering breeding)

Those costs alone can raise your total price of a Chuckwalla to $500 – $1000USD.

Remember: Caring for a Chuckwalla can be an expensive pet to have so make sure you can afford the other costs needed for them to have a fruitful life, before making your final purchase.

How Big Does a Chuckwalla Get?

The Chuckwalla is a dark-toned, scaly reptile that is often found within deserts, particularly between Northern America and Mexico. This is due to the air being hot and dry, where they enjoy basking on rocks near lava flows.

Once hatched from their mother’s egg, the average length of a baby Chuckwalla ranges between 65 – 80mm (2.5 – 3.1 inches).

As they reach adulthood, a Chuckwalla can grow as big as 508 mm or 20 inches long, however, other species of Chuckwalla can grow much larger! (Male Chuckwallas are always larger than females, in both weight and length).

Is a Chuckwalla a Herbivore?

Generally speaking, a Chuckwalla are herbivores meaning they predominantly feed off vegetation, desert plants and on the odd occasion insects that are found on the plants that they eat from.

Why Do Chuckwallas Do Push Ups?

If you didn’t already know, Chuckwallas enjoy keeping their physic in top-notch standard by doing push-ups (Yes, you read that correct… PUSH UPS)

There are a few reasons why you may observe a Chuckwalla doing push-ups. Reasons similar to why a human male may work out his abs at the gym, perhaps… however, the two main reasons are either:

  1. Providing dominance and territory against other male Chuckwallas
  2. To help him attract a female mate.

If you ever observe a Chuckwalla doing push-ups in real life, it’s an odd yet cute activity to watch!

Are Chuckwallas Friendly?

Are Chuckwallas friendly? Yes and no.

Yes, as in they are timid creatures that cause no harm to humans and can be intriguing pets to have.

No, as in they are usually solitary animals that prefer to go about their business alone rather than interacting with humans.

Generally speaking, Chuckwallas can be friendly or sociable within their species, considering they’re of female sex or younger age. Unfortunately, however, male Chuckwallas can not be kept together for a long period.

Is a Chuckwalla a Reptile?

Yes, a Chuckwalla is a type of reptile known as the lizard. These lizards come from the family of Iguanid, commonly known as Iguanas.

The Chuckwalla lizard has a rather round, paunch belly-like body with a dark brown-grey toned color. They also have saggy-like folds located around their neck, arms and stomach. Their legs are often short and the length/weight of their body can vary depending on if male or female.

These reptiles are old in history and thankfully far from extinct as they are kept far away from dangerous human activity due to their preferred habitat located within deserts.

Are Chuckwallas Poisonous?

You may be wondering if Chuckwallas are poisonous because you’re interested in becoming an owner of one yourself, thankfully the answer is no, they are not poisonous.

The Chuckwalla can bite if threatened, however, you do not need to worry about dying from venom as they are not considered harmful towards humans.

Do Chuckwallas Lay Eggs?

Although some reptiles give birth to their young, the female Chuckwalla indeed lay eggs to their young.

Mating season is around April – August, however, it is subject to occur only during heavy-rainfall and when food is abundant. This means it is common for Chuckwallas to not breed every year, considering the circumstances.

The average gestation period for a female Chuckwalla is around 30 – 55 days; She will then prepare to lay her eggs inside of a damp, soiled nest located underground, where she knows there will be no predators or disturbance.

A female Chuckwalla can produce anywhere between 5 – 16 eggs at once. Once laid, she will incubate and protect her eggs from predators until they begin to hatch.

Once hatching occurs, however, is the moment you’ll notice the mother Chuckwalla will leave her little hatchlings from then onwards. (As well as the male Chuckwalla)

Care of Chuckwallas

Caring for a Chuckwalla is a unique and rare experience that many people haven’t attempted before. Unless you’re a reptilian specialist, veterinary or a die-hard reptile fan, it’s probably never crossed your mind that they can serve as a household pet.

Unlike common pets such as cats or dogs, the Chuckwalla is an exotic reptile that requires a specific care routine and an owner that’s passionate about conserving their life.

Whether you’re curious about purchasing a Chuckwalla in the near future or you’re simply intrigued, I cover a few points below that you should consider before caring for a Chuckwalla.

Continue scrolling or simply click on each title below:

  1. Temperament of Chuckwallas
  2. Cage Size
  3. Their Diet (Food & Water)
  4. Heating & Humidity
  5. Lighting

Temperament of Chuckwallas

The temperament of Chuckwallas can vary from timid or apprehensive which can often be found in female or young Chuckwallas; Whereas they can also be defensive, territorial and aggressive creatures, usually found in male Chuckwallas.

If you’re thinking about owning one yourself, ensure you avoid keeping male Chuckwallas separate from other male Chuckwallas (Despite any personal desire to socialize them)

Due to their territorial nature, it’s out of the best interest for them to be kept separate so they don’t fight each other to death when you’re sleeping.

You do not need to worry about female Chuckwallas or their young, as they’re usually sociable and don’t act aggressively towards each other.

Cage Size

Before purchasing a Chuckwalla, you should have a suitable tank installed in your home or have prepared to purchase one from your local pet store.

When choosing the correct cage size to purchase, you’ll first need to identify a few things:

  1. How many Chuckwallas you’ll be purchasing
  2. Female or Male?
  3. Age of the Chuckwalla

The more Chuckwallas you purchase, the more tanks you may need, specifically if you’re purchasing two male Chuckwallas (as they can not be put in the same tank).

Depending on the age of the Chuckwalla, you may need to purchase a larger tank in the future, if, for example, the Chuckwalla you purchase is a baby or juvenile.

As a basis; The average and minimum size tank to purchase for one adult size Chuckwalla are at least 40-gallons.

For babies, the average and minimum size tank to purchase should be at least 20-gallons in length, ensuring no more than 3 babies are inside at a time.

If you’re considering to purchase both a male and female Chuckwalla, the minimum size tank to purchase should be at least 75-gallons in length.

Food & Water

Appropriate nutrition and hydration are essential when it comes to the care of a Chuckwalla. Ensuring to never over-feed but provide a varied diet is the key when it comes to a nutritious and happy little Chuckwalla.

What to Eat?

Chuckwallas are primarily herbivores, feeding off plants, vegetation and on the odd occasion, insects. You can replicate this too by feeding them:

  • Basil
  • Tomato
  • Sage
  • Potato
  • Strawberries
  • Ants
  • Grasshoppers
  • Worms
  • Leaves

How Much & How Often to Feed?

As mentioned above, you can feed your little scaly friend small portions once a day, being careful not to overfeed them.

If you’ve recently purchased a Chuckwalla, start small by providing a handful of insects to the inside of their cage.

Observe them eating for at least 15 minutes before collecting your container from inside of their tank. If your Chuckwalla has a large appetite and completely devowed their food, gradually increase their portion sizing day by day.

Another alternative when learning how much to feed them is placing one large portion of food for them to eat inside of their tank, which should last them over a period of 3 days.

The important things to remember regarding food and water for your Chuckwalla are:

  1. Small portions daily
  2. One large portion to cover them over 3 days
  3. Start small and gradually build their intake up to a suitable size
  4. Never over-feed!
  5. Vary their diet with fruits, vegetables, and small insects
  6. Don’t worry about their water intake (as they receive water through the vegetables and plants they eat)

Heating & Humidity

Naturally, a wild Chuckwalla spends the majority amount of its time basking in the sun, soaking up the warm and sometimes humid weather commonly found within the desert or similar environments.

When caring for a captive Chuckwalla, we must replicate these conditions to help aid these reptiles in their natural process.

To do this, investing in a heat pad or similar product to place over ⅓ of your reptile’s tank is suitable. You’ll want to ensure the heating source you use can reach levels up to 110°F.

If you need help with humidity inside of your Chuckwallas tank, you may decide to invest in a Zacro reptile heat lamp with a digital thermometer attached. Thermometers are essential when keeping track of the tank’s heat levels.

Don’t worry if you aren’t too impressed with the online options, as you’ll be sure to find similar tools from your local reptilian store.


Just like picking the right tools to provide adequate heating and humidity, you also need to pick the right tool so you can provide the best lighting for your Chuckwalla while they live in their tank.

Chuckwallas need strong UVB lighting that replicated the sun’s rays. Anything from 10 – 12% UV should be efficient.

There are plenty of different lamps you can purchase, so I’ve listed a few of my favorites below:

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