A collared lizardís most noticeable feature is, not surprisingly, the two prominent black and white bands that adorn its neck. Their bodies are compact, but their legs and tails are by comparison, long and muscular. They are excellent runners and occasionally when running their front legs leave the ground completely, making them temporarily bipedal. Their colors vary somewhat but are generally yellow, olive, brown or blue-grey with white spots peppered across the dorsum and tail. Occasionally lateral bands of lighter colors are evident. There are currently nine identified species of collared lizards, several of which have only recently been described. Most of those found in the pet trade are C. collaris or C. insularis. Collared lizards get between 8-14 inches (20-35 centimeters) long and can live for more than 10 years.
Collared lizards are New World lizards, native to the western United States and northern Mexico, including Baja California. The genus as a whole has a distribution extending within southwestern North America from eastern Oregon to the Mississippi River and south to northern Mexico. C. collaris in the United States are native to Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. In Mexico they are found in Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Nuevo Leon, Zacatecas, Sonora and Coahuila. C. insularis are more western, native to the southwestern corner of Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, southeastern California and Baja California. Within their respective ranges, collared lizards are found in arid, desert or semi-desert terrain, grasslands and prairies.
Collared lizards are built for speed and enjoy the ability to run, jump and climb. An adequate habitat will allow them to pursue this behavior; it should be horizontally-oriented, at least 2 feet long and at least 10 inches wide (60 centimeters long by 25 centimeters wide). The substrate should be sand, loam, or a similar substrate and should be about an inch deep. Rocks and/or sticks should be used to create climbing, basking and hiding areas. Collared lizards like to bask and require a basking spot with a surface temperature of at least 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit, with a thermal gradient that allows for a 10-15 degree drop. Nighttime temperatures should not drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As diurnal lizards, they also need UV lighting and should be provided with 8-10 hours of UV exposure. This can be accomplished by using a UV bulb in conjunction with a basking light or by using one of the many commercially available spotlights that incorporate UV. The habitat should be well ventilated and dry. A small bowl of water should be provided.
Collared lizards are carnivorous and will eat a variety of invertebrates, lizards and other small vertebrates. They should be offered a variety of insects including crickets, mealworms, superworms, wax worms, roaches and other small arthropods. Occasionally they may also have a taste for other smaller lizards. Some specialty reptile stores will sell feeder anoles and/or house geckos which can be offered to collared lizards with a more specialized palate. As with all reptiles and amphibians, a varied diet is essential to the lizardís health. Prey items should be dusted with a calcium and mineral supplement every other feeding.
Collared lizards can be cannibalistic and only like-sized individuals should be housed together. Male collared lizards are territorial and should not be housed with other males.
Collared lizards are lightning quick, and are not good lizards for handling. Care should also be taken to prevent escape whenever opening the enclosure.
Although they can tolerate high humidity, they require a dry captive environment.