How to Care for a Pink Belly Swift Lizard

Pink belly swift lizards (Sceloporus variabilis) colloquially go by several different names, including pink-bellied swifts and rose-bellied spiny lizards. Native to arid parts of North America from Texas to Costa Rica, these semi-arboreal lizards are agile climbers. They generally grow to between 4 and 6 inches long and can live for upwards of five years, if you take proper care of them.

Home Sweet Vivarium

One or two of these lizards can be kept in vivarium with a minimum capacity of 20 gallons. Ensure it has a securely fitting lid to prevent escape. If you plan on keeping a pair, remember that two males can't live together or they'll fight. The tank should have a temperature gradient—one end needs to be warmer than the other—with the warm end at around 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the cooler end at around 75 degrees. Nighttime temperature should be kept at around 70 degrees throughout. Radiant heat is best, so use an incandescent light or ceramic heater to warm your vivarium.

Get Kitted Out

Once you have your vivarium, it needs to be kitted out with the right equipment and accessories. You need a lighting system that provides UVB rays with full-spectrum fluorescent light. Keep this on for 10 to 12 hours each day. Your pink belly swift also requires substrate in his tank. Sandy substrate is preferable, but he'll also do well with pellet or mulch varieties. As this species is naturally semi-arboreal—it spends a lot of time in the trees—provide nontoxic plants, branches and logs for him to climb. Make sure he has plenty of hiding places, but keep them away from his heat source.

Grub's Up

The pink belly swift lizard is generally a good eater and will devour a variety of foods, including crickets, mealworms, superworms, fruit flies, wax worms and maggots. These foods need to be fed live or he may not accept them. You should also provide a daily calcium supplement and a weekly multivitamin and mineral supplement to ensure proper nutrition. He should be given a shallow bowl of water, large enough for him to fit into. Not all pink belly lizards will drink from a water bowl—many prefer to get their water from moisture on plants and decorations—but it's a good idea to provide one anyway.

Care and Maintenance

Mist your pink belly swift and his environment daily to help keep humidity high in his tank. You want it at about 60 percent. If his environment isn't humid enough, it may infringe on his ability to shed his skin. Feel free to handle your lizard, as long as it doesn't distress him, but always wash your hands thoroughly before doing so, to avoid making him sick. Clean your swift's tank and all its furnishings with nontoxic cleaning products once a week and completely replace the substrate. Clean out and refresh his water bowl daily.