Sudan plated lizards have curious and active personalities, much like blue tongue skinks — except more high-strung. This can make Sudan plated lizard handling tricky at first, especially since juveniles tend to be very skittish and defensive at that age. While they rarely (if ever) bite, they do tail-whip, which can be startling. This is due to predator avoidance instincts that tell them that anything big that tries to grab them is going to eat them.
This can be frustrating for many new owners, since touch is one of the primary ways that humans bond with their pets, but don’t lose hope! As your Sudan plated lizard grows larger and more confident in its environment, it will naturally become less afraid of you, especially if you use certain handling strategies that will help your pet learn to trust you more:
Use a front-opening enclosure. When you use a top-opening enclosure, you have to grab your pet from above. This makes them think that they’re being attacked by a predatory bird, and they will panic. By using a front-opening enclosure instead, your pet can see who is grabbing them, and will be less likely to freak out.
Build familiarity by allowing your plated lizard to watch you. Doing something as simple as putting the lizard’s enclosure in a high-traffic area can make a big difference for building trust through familiarity. When the lizard sees you often just doing daily activities, it gets used to your presence and begins to think of you as a neutral part of its environment.
Bribe them with treats. Sudan plated lizards are massively food motivated, so they can be fairly easily trained to accept food from feeding tongs. This is a great way to associate your presence with good things. Aside from insects, plated lizards have a special fondness for bright-colored yellow, orange, and red fruits and flowers. These make for great bribes.
Introduce them to handling slowly. After bringing your plated lizard home, don’t handle them for 2 weeks, or however long it takes for them to start eating regularly. This means they’ve settled into their new home and are ready for the new experience of handling. Start with short sessions, no more than 5 minutes long, and as your plated lizard learns to be calm in your hands, gradually increase the length of your Sudan plated lizard handling sessions to 15 minutes. If your pet seems to have developed a fear of hands, wearing gloves or using a towel to pick them up can help.
If your plated lizard poops on you during handling, your first reaction will likely be to put it back in its enclosure so you can wash your hands. However, this is something you must not do, because it will train the lizard to poop on you every time it wants to escape.
Hold them firmly but gently. When holding your plated lizard, support their body as much as you can — all four feet and as much of the tail as possible. This will help them feel more stable and less likely to start scrambling. If they start to scramble, restrain the legs by pinning them flat to the sides of the lizard’s body.
Try the bathtub method. One of my favorite methods for taming lizards is the “bathtub method.” If you have a bathtub, place a towel in an otherwise empty tub, and then sit down in it with the lizard free to run around inside the tub with you. This accustoms them to being close to you and being grabbed at random. I recommend bringing a book or some other form of entertainment, as this should be 15-30 minutes long. You will also need a pillow, because your butt *will* go numb! Don’t forget to disinfect your tub after using this taming strategy.
Persistent, calm, repetitive effort is the key to taming a Sudan plated lizard. While progress may seem slow sometimes, don’t give up! And always wash your hands with soap after handling any reptile.
- Introduction to Sudan Plated Lizards
- Shopping List
- Enclosure Size Requirements
- Enclosure: Lighting & UVB Requirements
- Enclosure: Heating & Temperature Requirements
- Enclosure: Humidity Requirements
- Enclosure: Choosing a Substrate
- Decorating the Enclosure
- Feeding Your Sudan Plated Lizard
- Handling and Taming Tips
- Common Illnesses and General Health Information
- Additional Resources