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First of all do not touch the ants! They can inflict a painful sting. The sting normally causes pain and swelling. If you are ever stung apply ice to the area until the pain subsides. If symptoms persist call your physician. Persons who are allergic to insect stings should be especially careful as they may require emergency medical attention in the event of an allergic reaction.
What do I keep the ants in? We use Rubbermaid plastic tubs that are about 2 feet by 3 feet by 6 inches deep. You will want a lid on top with about 10 small air holes in it. Harvester ants are not good climbers and should not be able to climb up smooth glass or plastic so aquariums or other similar habitats can be used as well. Cover the bottom of the habitat with about 1/4 inches of sand. Spray the sand with a little water to get the sand a little moist before placing your ants into the container.
What do I feed the ants? Harvester ants will eat almost anything but their favorite foods are fresh vegetables and fruits. Feed them small pieces of celery, apple, lettuce, carrot, etc... Feed them small pieces about every other day. If some of the food is not eaten after 2 days remove it from the ant "house" as it can get moldy and be harmful to the ants.
What about water for the ants? Using a spray bottle, spray a mist of water onto the ants and sand once a day to keep the sand a little moist and give the ants some water. Don't spray too much or the ants may start to drown in the flood.
How do I feed the ants to my lizard? You will only want to feed a few ants at a time to your lizard. We recommend about 5 ants at a time. Once those are eaten keep putting more ants in for the lizard until it is full (stops eating). A good tool to get is a large plastic funnel. A couple of plastic spoons or scoops are also useful. You can use the scoops or spoons and the funnel to transfer ants out of their "house" into a jar or other container at feeding time. Ants are cold blooded just like the lizards so try putting them in the refrigerator (not the freezer) for about 5 minutes to slow them down before feeding them to your pet(s).
How long will the ants live? They will normally last 2 weeks to a month.
Other tips for keeping ants Your ants will live longer if kept in a cool place. They are cold blooded just like reptiles. In fact, if you store them in a refrigerator or cooler they will go into hibernation and can be stored that way for months. Be sure to check the temperature of your cooler or refrigerator before doing this. If it is below 40 degrees they could freeze to death. 45 degrees is probably best. If you can't keep them in a cooler or refrigerator try to keep them in a cool room out of the sun.
How Many Ants Do I need? Generally adult horned lizards will eat around 20 to 60 ants per day. You may be able to supplement your lizard's diet with crickets and if so you won't need as many ants. Juveniles will need less ants.
Not all Horned Lizards Eat Harvester Ants To the best of our knowledge there are 14 species of Horned Lizards in North America. Most of these depend on Harvester Ants as their staple diet. If your lizard comes from a cold, high altitude climate (for example Wyoming, Colorado, or Utah high country) or if your lizard is young, it may not eat Harvester Ants. If your Lizard comes from these areas or is young, you should try just a few Harvester Ants at first. If the Lizard does not eat them - you should remove the ants as quickly as possible so that they do not harm your Lizard. We have only had a very few cases where people caught lizards from these areas and they did not eat Harvester Ants. Lizards from these areas should not be kept because it is too difficult to obtain the right type of ants for them. Young lizards should be fed baby crickets or smaller ants if they are not able to eat harvester ants very well yet.
Ants are shipped via US mail right to your door. Ants are not guaranteed when your daytime high temperature is above 90 or below 35 degrees.