Mexican Alligator Lizard Care

By Snaketracks / January 16, 2021

Mexican Alligator Lizard Care

The Abronia Graminea, also known as Mexican alligator lizard, is one of lizard endemic’s endangered species mostly found in the states of Puebla, Veracruz, and Oaxaca.

In this post we will provide you with a complete Abronia Graminea Care Guide along with some additional facts. We hope that this care guide will help you in providing the proper care for your new pet lizard.

Quick Reference Section

  • Experience level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Scientific name: Abronia graminea
  • Family: Anguidae
  • Alternate names: Green arboreal alligator lizard, Mexican Alligator Lizard, Arbronia alligator lizard
  • Size and weight: 7oz (21 grams) 12 inches (64 cm)
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Diet:
  • Conservation status: Endangered
  • Books:
  • Where to buy?:

Abronia Graminea Facts

Arboreal Alligator Lizard (Mexican Alligator Lizard)
Mexican Alligator Lizard (Abronia graminea)

The Mexican alligator lizard has a pressed body and a neck which is triangular. It’s weight is around 21g and it’s length is approximately 64 centimeters (12 in) measured from it’s from the end of it’s tail to its snout.

Mexican alligator lizards belong to the Anguidae family which is a big and diverse family of lizards from the Norhtern hemisphere.

Due to their habitats getting destroyed and population fragmentation, they are considered an endangered species.

Deforestation, forest fires, the land changing because of agriculture their habitats have been degraded.

As a pet, you should keep in mind that this lizard does not like to be handled too much, so you should leave them alone when it’s not to used to you.

With time, your pet lizard will grow accustomed to you and won’t be irritated when it’s with you.

These lizards live around 20 years so if you want a longtime pet, a Mexican alligator lizard can be a fantastic choice for you.

Their diets mostly consists of crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, snails and butter worms.

There are several species of Arboreal Alligator lizards including the Bocourt’s arboreal alligator lizard (Abronia vasconcelosii), Mixtecan arboreal alligator lizard (Abronia mixteca), Abronia deppii, Deppe’s Arboreal Alligator, Abronia lythrochila, Red-lipped Arboreal Alligator Lizard, and more.

What Does The Mexican Alligator Lizard Look Like?

These lizards are known to have beautiful bright green skin, multiple variations of eye colors and prehensile tails. Their harmonious scales are also an additional beauty.

These lizards have really expressive faces, they also have really strong legs and feet because of the fact that they spend most of their time in trees.

Where Can Alligator Lizards be found?

Abronia deppii, Deppe's Arboreal Alligator
Deppe’s Arboreal Alligator (Abronia deppii)

The Mexican alligator lizard can be found in pine oak forests and montane places where the temperature changes dramatically between day and night.

What Does The Abronia Graminea Eat?

Mexican alligator lizards eat a variety of insects including mealworms, dubia roaches, super worms, crickets and more.

In captivity you should gut load them before feeding your lizard. This process is just dusting the food with calcium and vitamin powder beforehand.

How Many Eggs Does The Abronia Graminea Lay?

Female Mexican alligator lizards mature when they reach 3 years of age, and will lay 2-12 offspring in a year. Mating begins in summer or fall, while parturition happens in spring.

The gestation period for the Mexican alligator lizard is approximately 6–8 months.

What Predators Do Abronia Graminea Have?

Loke other lizards both birds and snakes are their main predators.

Where Can You Buy It?

You can buy a Mexican alligator lizard at cbreptile.com. The key thing about them is that they are captive breeders.

If you find this lizard in a store, theres is a very high chance that it is a wild caught species. Wild caught is not what you want, for reasons of health, but mainly for the conservation of the species.

If you buy one, only buy from a captive bred breeder. Never buy wild caught animals.

Abronia Graminea Lizard Care Sheet

Mixtecan arboreal alligator lizard (Abronia mixteca)
Mixtecan arboreal alligator lizard (Abronia mixteca)

The Mexican alligator lizard is the most suitable pet for people who have a decent experience in taking care of reptiles. This is not a beginners pet, nor a good lizard for kids.

This lizard needs a regulated environment and a specific care but this pet will be definitely worth the effort!

You should give this pet the right temperature, the suitable habitat, the best lighting and the right diet and you will enjoy this pet for many many years.

How to buy the right Abronia Graminea

The pet you buy may not live long if it hasn’t been taken care of well in the past. So to know if the lizard has been taken good care of you should take notes of the information below.

First you should make sure the lizards aren’t overcrowded in the habitat, it may affect it’s behavior later. You should also check if the seller sells them along with another species since this can also change their behaviour.

Mexican Alligator Lizard Setup

Setup Product List

You don’t need too big of an enclosure, but is should be at least 18 x 36 x 36 inches so the lizard can have a comfortable space.

The Exo Terra one pictured above is a great option.

Also remember the height of the enclosure is more important than the length of the enclosure.

The living space of the Mexican alligator lizard needs a lot of ventilation so a glass enclosure wouldn’t be a suitable choice. Instead you should choose a screened enclosure.

The reason for that is ventilation, they need a lot of air circulation.

What To Put In Their Habitat

Abronia lythrochila, Red-lipped Arboreal Alligator Lizard
Abronia lythrochila, Red-lipped Arboreal Alligator Lizard

If you use your creativity well you can make their habitiat a nice and beautiful place.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to decide on a substrate. Suitable substrates include paper towels, sphagnum moss, newspaper, or peat moss.

The best choice would be sphagnum moss since it retains moisture which helps to keep the humidity right. Mexican alligator lizards like to burrow, so make your substrate layer is several inches thick.

Some good items to add to the enclosure are real or artificial plants, branches, reptile hides, logs and pieces of cork.

Real plants would be the most suitable because it helps with moisture and adds a natural touch to the enclosure.

Temperature and Lighting

You will need a thermometer but ideally a hygrometer in the enclosure since you’re gonna need to maintain a temperature and humidity gradient in the enclosure. Several thermometers will ensure the right temperature is kept even more.

You should aim for 26-27 degrees celsius (80-82 degrees fahrenheit) for the basking setup. And the other should be 20-25 degrees celsius (70-78 degrees fahrenheit).

The temperature might drop low at night but you don’t need to worry, the Mexican alligator lizards are used to cold temperatures.

For your basking area, all you really need is a low watt bulb that is placed outside of the enclosure.

Overheating your Mexican alligator lizard can be very dangerous, so make sure that the basking area is not getting above the required temperature.

Use a 12 hour on, 12 hour off schedule for your lighting. You can do that easily just by using a simple timer.

Humidity

Mexican alligator lizards need a pretty humid environment at a level of around 80 percent. If the humidity level changes too much it might cause health problems for your lizard.

You have a couple of options for keeping the humidity level high. You can use a hand mister twice a day, or you can install a reptile fogger and or an automated misting system.

See our article on the difference between misting systems and foggers for more.

As we have mentioned before, using real plants and having a good substrate can help with the humidity level, you are gonna need to fail a few times to get the correct setup but it will improve the enclosure a whole lot.

Water

After you mist the enclosure your Mexican alligator lizards will drink the water droplates that form from it, so you won’t need to make a watering system for the lizards though a clean dish is always nice to have as an extra option.

A key thing though is that you need to make sure the water you’re misting the enclosure with is safe. Make sure it’s free of chlorine or other harmful chemicals as they are sensative to that.

Mexican Alligator Lizards Feeding

feeder crickets
feeder crickets

Recommended Diet

As mentioned above their diet consists of a variety of things, but one thing to remember is to have a feeding schedule.

Next try to any food items in a small dish, and when their feeding is finished remove anything that’s left over.

This prevents them from over eating as well as anything rotting and creating bacteria.

You can start off giving your lizard 10 to 15 insects at a time, two to three times a week and can adjust it accordingly.

Breed Your Own Live Food

If you don’t want to buy live food on a regular basis or if you have or are planning to have multiple reptiles, one option is to create your own farms.

Check out the guides below for a step by step walk through for each type:

Temperament

Bocourt's arboreal alligator lizard (Abronia vasconcelosii)
Bocourt’s arboreal alligator lizard (Abronia vasconcelosii)

These lizards have a decently gentle temperament, though with anything some have a more agressive personality.

They also might bite if they’re scared or feel threatened. They do have a pretty stong bite, so don’t be surprised if they take some skin with them when they snap.       

You should be careful when handling them since they don’t like being handled much. Always respect their preferences and pay attention to their behavior as this will tell you what they like and don’t. 

For their activity level, you can expect a lot of climbing and moving when it’s their feeding time!

Handling Them

We said it above but they don’t really like to be handled too much. If you do they may get stressed which is never a good thing.

With a little time and patience you can get your lizard to tolerate being handled more, but they will always prefer being left alone and are best kept as display pets.

Abronia Graminea Care Video

The below video from Clint’s Reptiles walks through the pro’s and cons of owning one of these lizards. He emphasizes they are only for adults and not for kids as they are small and fragile.

Additionally you should ONLY BUY CAPTIVE BRED. Most in pet stores will be wild caught which comes with a host of problems from the longevity of the animal, it’s current health and then more importantly the conservation of the species.

Check it out, the video is chalked full of great info and some humor too.

Conclusion

The Mexican alligator lizard is a super cool looking lizard that needs an experienced care taker.

Their climate is pretty specific and will require a fair investment up front to make sure everthing is easy to manage.

If you want one of these, make sure to only buy a captive bred one, from a reputable breeder like CBreptiles for example.

For a complete setup you will need the below:

Setup Product List

So wrapping up, if you can meet all of their needs, they are a pretty sweet pet. They are very colorful and are just very cool looking.

Let us know about your experience with yours or someone elses below in the comments.

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