Petiles Spotlight: The Abronia Arboreal Alligator Lizard

Petiles Spotlight: The Abronia Arboreal Alligator Lizard


This fascinating lizard, commonly known as Abronia Graminea, is a diurnal lizard that lives in the trees. Native to cloud forests in Mexico and Central America, they are used to large fluctuations in temperature and high humidity. They bear one litter a year and, with careful handling and training, may become tame to their owner. Unfortunately, this species has become endangered as a result of degradation of the montane pine oak and cloud forest. It is unlikely that this species will be able to survive living in a degraded habitat. There is hope though; the pet trade is a potential aid in preserving this species with captive breeding programs. This is why we are able to get Abronia Alligator Lizards as pets. As amazing as the Abronia is, there are some considerations before purchasing one.


Cage & Heating/Lighting


Exo Terra Medium xtall cage

Because they are arboreal, Abronia need a pen that is taller than usual. They don’t spend a lot of time on the ground and are much better suited in an enclosure that has plenty of branches to climb on as well as other plants. The bottom of the pen can be covered with sphagnum moss. They prefer natural sunlight, but will survive under compact fluorescent lights. If you are able to keep them outside, it is highly recommended. Exposure to natural sunlight helps keep them a beautiful emerald color. Being inside for too long without an adequate amount of UVB will turn them dull.

In regards to heat, allowing your pen to get too hot is a quick way to harm your pet. It’s healthy for it to have temperature fluctuations, but don’t allow it to get too warm or cold or you could find yourself with a sick, or dead, Abronia. They are already endangered; we don’t want to kill them in captivity on accident.



American Bird Grasshopper
Abronia eat insects, and it’s important when feeding to offer a variety of types. Some of their favorites are crickets, grasshoppers, soldier fly larvae, and roaches.  Another thing to consider is to make sure that the insects you’re feeding to your reptile haven’t been raised on a high-protein diet. Plant-eating insects, or ones that you yourself have fed mostly plant material, are much better for your pet. If they eat too much protein it can cause problems for the reptile. They will be getting some protein in the insects they eat, but it’s important that they don’t consume too much extra protein.


Water and Hydration

Spray Bottle while its spraying


Although the Abronia come from cloud forests, it’s important that you don’t allow their enclosure to get so damp that it grows mold. Every so often you want to allow time for the enclosure and substrate to dry out. However, it’s a good idea to mist their cage almost daily. Make sure you mist the plants, sides of the cage, and the lizards themselves. Misting the pen in the morning is a great way to add humidity to the air.

Additionally, you will want to provide a dripper cup two to three times a week and let it drip over a specific plant in the enclosure. Abronia Graminea can be given tap water, allow it to sit at room temperature for 24 hours to make sure that the chlorine has been removed. If you do find mold growing in their cage, this is a sign that there is not adequate ventilation and too much moisture.


Once you’ve learned the basics of caring for your Abronia, you may find that you want to try to breed them and raise the young. This is a wonderful idea, because we don’t want this beautiful species to die out.  Luckily for you, the reptiles do most of the work and raising the young is the same as raising adults. There are a couple of differences to keep in mind though.

You have to offer the young smaller insects. Eating prey that is too large can lead to impaction, which can lead to death. Also, the young do not handle temperature fluctuations as well as the adults. Anything above 85 degrees causes them problems. Interested in breeding Abronia Graminea? I suggest reading the “Abronia Arboreal Alligator Lizard” by Jason Wagner located on The Abronia Graminea is a fascinating pet and one that will enrich your life for years to come!

8 thoughts on “Petiles Spotlight: The Abronia Arboreal Alligator Lizard

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