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Care of Long Tailed Lizards

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Names:

Long tailed lizard, long tailed grass lizard, grass lizard

Scientific name: Takydromas sexlineatus

Life Span: 5 years or more

Size:

Can reach a full length of about 10-12 inches - around 3/4 of that length will consist of the tail.

About the Tail: long tailed lizards have a prehensile tail, meaning they can wrap it around things to help them hang on.

Appearance:

Ususally dark greenish brown to brown on the back with a light (sometimes creamy white) belly. A brown stripe with a thin white or black border often runs down each side of the long tailed lizard, though the coloration and stripe patterns can vary.

Temperament:

Long tailed lizards are active lizards and are very agile and fast. At the same time, they can be quite tolerant of gentle handling (very careful gentle handling is required though, and never grab them by the tail). They can usually be housed in small groups, though males may fight so one male to a tank is a good idea.

Tank / Housing:

A minimum 15 gallon tank is recommended for a single long tailed lizards, with an additional 5 gallons for each additional lizard. Since white tailed lizards are so active, the larger the tank, the better. A screen top should be used, but must be secure to keep these agile lizards from escaping.

Substrate:

A mulch, peat moss or forest bark type substrate is usually recommended, since it helps retain humidity. Paper towels can also work for easy cleaning. Sand or wood chips are not recommended.

Cage Furnishings:

Provide a variety of branches, cork bark, plants (live or silk), and vines to provide lots of hiding spots and climbing space. A shallow water dish should also be provided.

Temperature:

Day: basking spot of 90-95 F (32-35 C) with a ambient temperatures from 75-85 F (24-29 C). Be sure to provide a gradient for thermoregulation.

Night: temperatures can drop to around 65-70 F (18-21 C).

Heat lamps or ceramic heat elements can be used to provide heat. Undertank heaters alone may not be sufficient to maintain ambient air temperatures for long tailed lizards as they spend a lot of time off the ground. At night use a night time bulb or ceramic element if necessary (rather than a bright light).

Lighting:

Being diurnal, long tail lizards need exposure to ultraviolet light. Use a UVA and UVB-producing bulb designed for use with reptiles. Follow manufacturer's recommendations for positioning the bulb to ensure adequate exposure to the UV rays (i.e. make sure the bulb is close enough to the lizards). UV bulbs should also be placed over the wire mesh lid, as glass will block the UV light needed by the lizards.

Humidity and Hydration:

A humidity level of 70-75 percent should be maintained in the tank. Invest in a hygrometer to make sure your humidity level is high enough (and not too high). The shallow water dish will help with humidity, but daily misting of the tank with water or a reptile drip system should also be used (may long tailed lizards will only drink from water droplets on the leaves in the tank).

Feeding

Crickets can be the main diet for long tailed lizards, supplemented with mealworms, waxworms, butter worms, and flies for variety. All prey should be gut loaded prior to feeding. Adults can be fed several crickets every other day or so, while juveniles can be fed daily. Dust prey with a vitamin and mineral supplement once a week.

References:

  • Long Tailed Grass Lizard - Western New York Herpetological Society
  • Long Tailed Grass Lizard - Petsuppliesplus.com
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