When you observe animals well, they will tell you what they need. Chuckie the chuckwalla was telling me he needed to go UP. He would climb up to the top of his tallest stick and stare up at the corner of his house, but there was no UP.
So I got this crazy idea……I can’t replace his house, but could he have a 2nd floor? I had something in mind, and then I asked questions on a chuckwalla FB page and a lady showed me exactly what I was thinking. Chuckie needed a penthouse room above his house.
I started researching a small reptile house that could go on top of his house. Next question…..could my son cut a hole in the floor of a smaller house and in the top of Chuckie’s? PVC is hard stuff. My son said, sure, I can cut that easy with my jig saw.
I bought metal brackets to attach the little house to the big one, got a light fixture to put an LED bulb up there for light, and got 2 sticks of wood that could go up to the hole to give him access. Then, at a reptile show, there was the right small house!
My son and daughter in law have lots of reptiles and know how to do things. She held a big plastic container under the area to be cut, (to prevent any slivers of PVC from going down into his house) while my son made the cut. Didn’t take long and Chuckie had a hole to go thru to go upstairs.
He spent one day looking up at the hole. Then it hit me that maybe the sticks to go up were not good enough for some reason. He had been climbing a big piece of cork and laying on the top, then jumping off. At that point I started telling him he’s a ninja.
I stood the piece of cork he had been climbing up right at the hole. Within an hour, Chuckie was upstairs looking out the new upstairs window. And climbing the sticks that are up there. Chuckie was UP.
He’s shedding, the first shed since I got him. Here’s a picture, just a sheddy guy from the desert hanging out in a dead tree.
Some lizards eat their shed but he doesn’t, so I find pieces of him laying all around in his house.
Now he goes up there several times each day. More places to go, more things to do.
Captive reptiles need enrichment to fend off boredom. I have different sticks and rocks I can exchange to make things a little different from time to time, and make a new adventure for him, and something different to figure out. He always finds food up there, which stimulates the foraging that these lizards need to do in the wild, because food is scarce where they live, especially at some times of the year.
As keepers of unusual animals, our most important issue is making them feel safe and content in their environments, and making the environments as close to natural as we can, using what we have to work with. I think I have a happy ninja chuckwalla.