Names: Long tailed lizard, long tailed grass lizard, grass lizard,Takydromas sexlineatus
Life Span: Five or more years
Size: Long tailed lizards can reach a full length of about 10-12 inches with around 3/4 of that length consisting of the tail.
Long Tailed Lizards
Long tailed lizards have a prehensile tail, meaning they can wrap it around things to help them hang on. This is a trait that makes them very unique in the reptile world.
They are usually dark greenish-brown to brown on their 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.
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 you should never grab them by their tail). They can usually be housed in small groups, though males may fight so only keeping one male per house is recommended.
Housing Long Tailed Lizards
A minimum of a 15 gallon tank is recommended for a single long tailed lizard, with an additional five gallons for each additional lizard (i.e. 20 gallon tank for two lizards). Since long tailed lizards are so active, the larger the tank is, the better. A screen top should be used but it must be secure to keep these agile lizards from escaping.
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 due to accidental ingestion and impaction concerns.
Within the cage, you should 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 for clean, fresh water.
Heat and Lighting for Long Tailed Lizards
During the day you need to provide your long tailed lizard with a basking spot of 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit (32-35 degrees Celsius) and an ambient temperature from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24-29 degrees Celsius) to provide a proper thermal gradient. At night, temperatures can drop down to around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit (18-21 degrees Celsius) but make sure they do not get too low or you may cause your lizard to become sick, stop eating, or lethargic.
Heat lamps with various heat bulbs 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 these lizards spend a lot of time off the ground. At night, use a red or purple night time bulb or ceramic element if necessary (rather than a bright white light).
Being diurnal, long tail lizards need exposure to full spectrum ultraviolet light. Use a UVA and UVB producing bulb designed for use with reptiles. Follow the 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 a wire mesh lid and not glass since it will block the invisible UV light needed by the lizards.
Humidity and Hydration for Long Tailed Lizards
A humidity level of 70-75 percent should be maintained in the tank at all times. 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 (like chameleons use) should also be utilized (many long tailed lizards will only drink from water droplets on the leaves in the tank).
Feeding Long Tailed Lizards
Crickets can be the main diet for long tailed lizards, supplemented with mealworms, waxworms, butter worms, and flies for variety.
Adult long tailed lizards can be fed several crickets every other day or so, while juveniles can be fed daily.
Dust prey items with a vitamin and mineral supplement (including calcium and Vitamin D3) once a week and gut load them prior to feeding.
Edited by Adrienne Kruzer, RVT