On this website I am describing how I keep several species of lizards, toads, newts and tortoises living freely in my garden.

Since 1996 several green lizards, ocellated lizards, Italian wall lizards, green toads, Italian newts, oriental fire-bellied toads and Hermann’s tortoises have freely walked about in my garden, in an Amsterdam suburb. The garden is a fine place for these animals during the whole year. It is still possible to work and relax in the garden. The most important reason for keeping reptiles and amphibians in this way is the return of their natural behaviour. In a terrarium my lizards grew tame and ‘flabby’, but ever since I set them free in the garden they were alert again and fast as lightning. Their colours also intensified, because of direct sunlight and a varied diet. Especially green lizards get used to people and are very curious. Every new garden bench or flower pot, but also your shoes, will regularly be climbed upon.

When you feed them mealworms every now and then lizards will soon behave like ‘starlings at the snack bar’. In 1995 we moved to this house and I adapted the garden in order to allow the animals to stay there the whole year through. And what is more fun than having lizards walk about your terrace and sunbathe in the window sills?

What do you need to look out for when you intend to keep exotic reptiles and/or amphibians in your garden? I am curious about your reactions or your own experience.