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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Care Guides > Curly Tail Lizard Setup Steps

Curly Tail Lizard (Leiocephalus spp.)

Experience Level: Beginner

curly tailed lizard in habitat

Curly-tailed Lizards

Did you know? Curly-tailed Lizards get their name from their rapidly twitching tail. They whip their tail around furiously as a defense mechanism to threaten other lizards and to distract predators. Curly-tails can “drop” their tail when they need to get away and will grow a new, although different looking, tail.

Step 1Choosing a Terrarium

Curly-tailed Lizards originate from Peru, the Caribbean and Cuba. They can be territorial and
are best housed individually, although females can be housed together if given enough space.

(A) Use a 20-gallon (26-30" long) or larger terrarium for a single Curly-tail. If housing two females
together a larger terrarium will be needed.

(B) Screened lid, if not included with habitat.


Step 2Heating and Lighting

Curly-tails require a temperature gradient (cool side/ warm side) to appropriately regulate their body temperature. Temperatures within the habitat should vary between daytime and nighttime hours.

• Equip the habitat with two thermometers (one for each side of the habitat) and one
hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels.

• The basking spot should be the warmest point in the habitat during the day. Heat is provided
by a high-wattage heat bulb placed directly above the basking spot. Turn the basking light
off at night.

• Use a ceramic heat emitter or night heat lamp as needed to maintain nighttime temperature.


Target Range
Humidity 30-50%
Day-Cool Side 80-90° F (27-32° C)
Day-Basking Spot 90-95° F (32-35° C)
Night  65-80° F (18-27° C)


• Curly-tails are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. Use a daytime (F) UVA/UVB (ultraviolet) linear or compact fluorescent bulb for approximately 12 hours per day.

• For night viewing, use a night-specific bulb to minimize light provided to your reptile.

Step 3Substrate and Decor

(G) Use a 2-3" (5-8 cm) of bark or fiber bedding.

• Clean out waste weekly and completely change bedding at least once a month.

(H) Include decor to elevate your lizard close to the heat source for basking.

(I) Add a wood/rock hiding place in the cool area of the home for hiding.

• Ensure decor is large and stable enough for the size of your lizard.

• Provide branches (artificial or live) for hiding and climbing.


curly tailed lizard in habitat

New surroundings and environments can be stressful for pets. Prior to handling your pet, give him 3-4 days to adjust to his new surroundings while monitoring his behavior for any signs of stress or illness. Shortly after purchase, have a veterinarian familiar with reptiles examine your pet.

• Runny droppings for more than two days

• Eating or drinking less; weight loss

• Swollen joints

• Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth

• Shedding problems; discolored skin

• Decreased basking; more time spent hiding

If you notice any of the above signs, speak with a PetSmart store associate or reptile veterinarian with questions about the health of your pet.

Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program; a program designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets.

The program includes:
• Specific standards our vendors agree to meet in caring for and observing pets for common illnesses.

• Specific standards for in-store pet care.

• The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.