The Long-tailed Lizard, also known as Long-tailed Grass Lizard, Asian Grass Lizard, and Takydromus sexlineatus, is a beautiful reptile species widely known for its remarkably long tail, which is usually three times the length of its body. This lizard belongs to the Lacertidae family, which is widespread in Asia, Europe, and Africa. It is an energetic and interesting reptile that makes it a unique pet for beginners. If you want to know more about Long-tail Lizards, make sure to read further!
The species was first described by French zoologist François Marie Daudin in 1802. Due to their extensive range and stable population, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorized them as Least Concern. Long-tailed Lizards are commonly found in Southeastern Asia, particularly in swamps, tropical rainforests, and grasslands. They can be easily identified by their long tails and white or cream underbellies.
Today, Long-tailed Lizards are relatively common in the pet trade, being one of the few species that can adapt well in a mixed-species environment.
Characteristics of a Long-tailed Lizard
Average life span: 5 to 6 years in captivity
Average length: 10 to 12 inches, with a tail that accounts for 4-5 times of their total length
Despite its extremely long tail, this reptile has a small head and body. The head is long, acute, with its eardrums and eyelids visible. Its body scales are big, keeled, and rectangular, whereas the belly scales are settled in distinct rows. A massive row of dorsal scales is present along its back. Its limbs are of standard size, but the digits are slender and long—a characteristic that helps balance the lizard’s weight. When its scaly tail is detached, it will regrow.
Its color varies depending on its environment. It is usually brown with six rows of subtle yellow stripes, while the sides can be dark or light brown, or olive or grass green.
Long-tailed Lizards spends most of their time during the day “floating” on the tips of thick grasses, where they actively hunt for arthropods. They are mostly found in grasslands that experience seasonal rains and are mostly absent in arid areas. At night, they coil or crawl on the bases of the grasses, finding refuge under logs, branches, and other plant materials. Since they are not territorial reptiles, they are observed to be friendly with each other.
Caring for a Long-tailed Lizard
Long-tailed Lizards can be housed alone or in small groups of two or three, but males tend to be territorial. A 20-gallon vertical and hexagonal space is enough for one lizard. Just add a 10-gallon of enclosure space for each additional lizard. You can also keep them with other docile species such as geckos and anoles. Make sure to secure the top with a tightly-clamped lid to keep agile lizards from escaping.
Like a monkey wraps its tail to hang on branches, the Long-tailed Lizard uses this technique too, which is relatively uncommon in the lizard world. Even though they can tolerate gentle handling, keep in mind to not grab the tail because the lizard can be threatened and drop its tail.
In the wild, Long-tailed Lizards love taking refuge in thick grasses. In captivity, it will spend most of its time on the substrate, also known as the tank’s floor. Ideal substrates are peat moss, mulch, and forest bark, because these types help retain the enclosure’s humidity. You can also place paper towels at the bottom layer of your substrate for easier cleaning.
This reptile requires an ambient daytime temperature between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and night ambient temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t go too low or beyond the required temperatures, as your pet may get ill and not digest its food properly. A basking spot that provides temperatures between 90 and 95 F should also be granted. As a diurnal reptile, it needs exposure to full-spectrum UVA and UVB light. Provide them with a UVA and UVB bulb, but make sure to not place it too close to the lizard or rocks as it can cause burns. Ideally, place the UV bulb behind or over the wire mesh lid, not behind the glass, since the latter filters ultraviolet lights.
When it comes to aliment, Long-tail Lizards appreciate live crickets as their primary source of nutrients. For variety, you can also feed them with mealworms, butter worms, waxworms, and flies. A shallow water dish that contains fresh, non-chlorinated water is also crucial to keep your pet hydrated.