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Long-Tailed Grass Lizard

(Asian Grass Lizard, Six-Striped Long-Tailed Lizard)

Takydromus sexlineatus

Long-Tailed Grass Lizard

LIFE SPAN:

5+ years

AVERAGE SIZE:

8-12 inches (mostly tail)

CAGE TEMPS:

Daytime - 75-80℉
Basking - 85-90℉
Cool side - 65-75℉
If temp falls below 65℉ at night, may need supplemental infrared or ceramic heat.

HUMIDITY:

60%-70%

WILD HISTORY:

Long-tailed grass lizards live in the more heavily planted savannah regions of India, China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Malaysian Peninsula, and Indonesia

The species ocellatus can be found in South China, Hainan, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Burma, and Northern Malaysia.

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES:

Long-tailed grass lizards are greenish brown with white stripes running along the length of their bodies. They are beautiful, delicately slim bodied lizards with tails that are longer than their bodies. The tail is slightly prehensile and the lizard can wrap it around braches to help balance and secure itself in low trees and shrubs.

NORMAL BEHAVIOR & INTERACTION:

Some grass lizards can be tamed to sit on the hand, but being out of the cage generally stresses them. Stress can cause illness. Grass lizards can have a strong bite for a small lizard. When chased by a predator and grabbed by the tail, they will drop their tail (which will continue to wiggle to distract the predator) so they can escape. Long-tailed grass lizards are very energetic and entertaining to watch in their enclosure.

FEEDING:

Insectivorous - live prey. Feed every other day. Protein sources such as gut-loaded crickets, small mealworms and wax worms dusted with a supplement should make up the grass lizard diet. Wild caught insects should never be fed, since they can carry disease. All insects should be gut-loaded (fed a nutritious diet about 24-hours before being offered to your lizard - see our cricket care sheet). Be careful to feed the proper size prey for your lizard’s size. A good rule of thumb is that a cricket should never be larger than the distance between the lizard’s eyes, or the distance from its eyes to its nose. Feed as many insects as your lizard will eat in 3-5 minutes. If they do not eat all the insects, they can be left inside the enclosure, just make sure you put enough cricket food and moisture (orange slice) into the enclosure so the crickets don’t begin to chew on the lizard. It is normally recommended that excess, uneaten crickets be removed from a lizard enclosure, but considering the fact that your enclosure may be thickly planted, it may be impossible to remove them without stressing the lizards. Try to introduce the crickets slowly, so you can watch your lizards eat them before introducing more.

SHEDDING:

Unlike snakes, lizards shed their skin in patches, not all in one piece. Your pet will become an overall dull color, and the skin over the eyelids may ‘pop’ at a certain point and make your lizard look like a bug-eyed bullfrog. Do not peel off the skin if it is not ready to come off. This can be dangerous and painful. Most lizard species will shed every 4-6 weeks. If the enclosure environment is ideal, the keeper often has no idea that their pet has shed, as it will happen more quickly and the lizard will often eat its own shed skin.

In the wild, lizards have a much easier time with their sheds, as they are generally in a more naturally humid environment and have access to pools or bodies of water in which they can soak at will. Even lizards from arid areas find humid places to go during the shedding process, such as cold, moist burrows under the sand or caves. The shedding process happens when the lizard’s body begins to grow a new layer of skin. That new layer begins to separate from the old and a very thin layer of fluid forms between the two layers. If your pet’s enclosure is too dry, this fluid layer will not form properly, making it difficult for your reptile to shed properly.

To create more humidity, the entire tank can be lightly spray misted twice a day during shedding time. Spray once in the morning and once later in the day. Make sure the later spray dries completely before lights go off for the night. Some lizards may also benefit from a ‘moist box’ during shedding time. This can be a Tupperware-like container (with the cover on) containing a bed of moist reptile terrarium moss. The container should be big enough for the entire lizard to be inside with an entry door cut in the side just large enough for the lizard to come and go at will. Keep the moss moist but not watery, and place the box on the heating pad in the tank.

If your lizard still has a hard time getting the shed completely off its toes, tail or head, help him by spraying the area with water and gently massaging the skin until it peels off. If the retained shed is severe and cannot be removed easily, see your exotic veterinarian.

SUPPLEMENTS:

Dust food with calcium supplement and vitamin supplements. As a rule, a growing juvenile’s food (and a pregnant female’s) should be dusted more often than an adult’s. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for applying supplements to avoid over-supplementing food. Our veterinarian recommends dusting insects with a good quality calcium supplement fortified with vitamin D3, 2-3 times a week. (Avoid using a calcium supplement with added phosphorous, unless specifically directed by your veterinarian, since this can promote kidney disease.) Always consult your veterinarian for specific directions on supplementing your pet’s food, since there are many variables that go into determining the best supplementing regimen for a given animal.

WATER:

A large bowl of clean fresh chlorine-free water must always be available. Place it on the cool side of your lizard’s enclosure. Change it daily, or as needed, as your pet will most likely bathe in it as well. Grass lizards will most often drink from the droplets of water that have been sprayed into the cage, so do be sure to spray the inside of the cage 2 times a day. All water given to lizards for drinking, as well as water used for misting, soaking or bathing must be 100% free of chlorine and heavy metals. (Not all home water filtration systems remove 100% of the chlorine and heavy metals from tap water). We recommend that you use unflavored bottled drinking water or bottled natural spring water. Never use untreated tap water. If tap water is used, you should treat it with a de-chlorinating treatment. De-chlorinator is available in the pet store fish department. If you do not want to chemically de-chlorinate the water, you can leave an open container of tap water out for at least 24 hours. Do not use distilled water, which can cause severe medical problems, since it lacks minerals that are essential to important body functions. If only tap water can be used, at least de-chlorinate the water.

A daily misting or two with chlorine-free water will also be appreciated. However, care should be taken not to allow the enclosure to become damp. Also, do not mist less than two hours before turning the heat lamps off for the day.

SOAKING:

Lizards can benefit greatly from a good deep-water soak at least once a week. A Tupperware container makes a good lizard bathtub. Fill the container deep enough so the entire lizard’s body can be submerged under water, but the head can be out of water. The water should be nice and warm (about 68-70 degrees). Soak your pet for about a half hour at a time. This is especially helpful during a bad shed or when your lizard might be a bit constipated.

RECOMMENDED SUPPLIES:

20 gallon high (or larger) reptile tank with very secure mesh top with clips. Light dome and 50 watt bulb for a 20H tank.
Under tank heater placed under same side of tank as basking light. Temperature/humidity gauge - do not stick to side of tank.
Dry ‘hide house.’ Coconut fiber substrate.
Large water bowl big enough to soak in. Fluorescent 5.0 UVB Bulb and housing.

HOUSING & ENVIRONMENT:

Reptiles are ectothermic, or cold-blooded, which means they are dependent on the temperature of their immediate environment to regulate their body temperature. Therefore, we must create an environment with several heat gradients - warm on one end and cool on the other. With this set-up, your pet can go to either end depending on whether he needs to be warmer or cooler.

ENCLOSURE SIZE: The enclosure should be a solid glass sided tank long enough to create the two separate temperature gradients (warm and cool). A long-tailed grass lizard tank should be at least 20 gallons high or larger for one to two adults.

IT IS NOT TRUE THAT A LIZARD WILL ONLY GROW AS LARGE AS ITS ENCLOSURE!

COVER: Make sure the cage has an escape-proof metal mesh top. It should fit snuggly onto the tank and have strong clips locking it on. It is important that the top is METAL mesh, as you will place the heat lamp directly on top of this cover.

HEAT PAD: Reptile heat pads can be adhered directly onto the underside of the glass bottom of the tank. Stick it on the glass on one of the very far ends of the tank. For safety reasons, make sure to attach the rubber feet (contained in the box) at all four corners of the underside of the tank. This will allow air to circulate underneath the tank and prevent the heat from being trapped under the tank.

DO NOT use reptile heat rocks. They heat unevenly and have caused severe thermal burns in reptiles.

*** Although your lizard will most likely NOT spend much time on the floor of the enclosure, the heat pad will help contribute to the overall humidity and ambient temperature of the enclosure.

HEAT LAMP: Place the heat dome with the basking bulb on top of the cage directly over where the reptile heat pad has been placed on the underside of one end of the tank.

Follow directions carefully with all products - READ THE INSTRUCTION SHEET! Always choose fixtures with ceramic sockets and be careful to choose the socket that is properly rated for the wattage bulb that you will be using. Do not place the fixtures by dry wood or flammable fabrics. All heaters should be placed out of the reach of children and all pets - including cats and dogs. Be very careful to make sure that your caged pet cannot reach and touch the heating device in its own cage. A thermal burn to the face or body can be painful and life threatening.

**UVB LIGHT: Lizards MUST be exposed to UVB lighting 8-12 hours a day. This exposure is CRITICAL in allowing the animal to synthesize vitamin D3 and absorb calcium. If your pet is NOT exposed to an adequate level of UVB lighting, it will gradually develop a metabolic bone disorder, which can be fatal if left untreated. Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs that produce UVB rays should be replaced every six months, as the UVB levels drop significantly after this time, rendering the bulb useless. All glass and plastic blocks UVB light, so overhead light sources should be kept behind a wire mesh cover, never a glass or plastic cover. This light source should be about twelve inches from the animal, but follow packaging directions carefully - or bring your bulb to your exotic pet veterinarian to be read by a meter.

HIDE HOUSE: Place a hide house inside the cage directly over where you have positioned the heat pad, and directly under the heat lamp above.

WATER BOWL: The large water crock can be placed on the opposite end of the cage, along with another hide house, if desired.

SUBSTRATE: We recommend a loose coconut fiber substrate, available in the reptile department and made by several companies. It is made from the husks of coconuts. This substrate is ideal for grass lizards, as it will help hold humidity in and is also a perfect substrate for plants. Keep the substrate slightly damp, but not watery. Placing large, smooth pebbles over the surface of the bedding will prevent the lizard from picking up and consuming the coconut fiber by accident when hunting prey.

BRANCHES & PLANTS: Grass lizards love to climb, and additionally must have a basking area on the warm side of the tank. Choose branches that your lizard can climb on safely and lie on comfortably. The basking area can consist of branches and a platform positioned under the basking light so the lizard sits about six inches under the lamp. Sand blasted grape vine branches are available in the pet store. These serve as good, sturdy climbing branches. Be careful of bringing in branches from outside, as they can house parasites. Live plants can help increase the humidity in your lizard enclosure. Be sure to include only lizard safe plants such as pothos, aloe, philodendrons, spider plants, ficus, and dracenae. They can be planted directly into the enclosure substrate.

TEMPERATURES: Cage temperatures should be monitored daily and kept at the temperatures listed at the top of this page. Use your reptile thermometer to check the temperatures in different places in the cage regularly to make sure they continually match the listed proper temperatures. * If the room temperature falls below 65 degrees at night, a supplemental infrared or ceramic heat fixture may be necessary. (These fixtures do not emit a light spectrum that is visible to the lizard, so it will not disturb him at night, but they WILL provide the necessary supplemental heat.) If your lizard does not receive the proper heat at the proper temperatures, he may become sick with issues such as respiratory disease and may stop eating, as geckos have a hard time digesting their food without proper heat.

DAY/NIGHT LIGHT CYCLES AND HEATING:

All lizards must have distinct day and night periods in their enclosure to maintain their biological rhythms. Grass lizards need 8-12 hours of daytime and 8-12 hours of nighttime. However, as the daylight hours change seasonally outside, daylight hours inside the tank should reflect the same.

The day period must be light, and the night period must be dark.
A timer should be used to set day/night periods.

HABITAT MAINTENANCE:

Daily maintenance should consist of spot cleaning by removing soiled substrate, cleaning water bowl thoroughly and wiping glass clean.

The entire tank should be cleaned thoroughly at least once every couple months with: A mild dishwashing liquid (a weak dilution) in warm water, THEN Vinegar & water (1:8) OR bleach and warm water (1:32)

Cage “furniture” should also be scrubbed clean with the same dilution.

RINSE OFF ALL SOAP AND BLEACH THOROUGHLY WITH PLAIN WATER BEFORE RE-INTRODUCING YOUR PET TO ITS ENCLOSURE!

NEVER MIX VINEGAR AND BLEACH - IT CREATES A TOXIC SOLUTION

GROOMING & HYGIENE:

To reduce the risk of contracting and spreading salmonella poisoning, all handlers should wash their hands after handling any lizard.

SIGNS OF A HEALTHY ANIMAL:

smooth, even skin; no traces of mites (small, reddish brown spots around nostrils, near ears and eyes); clear, bright eyes; rounded, full body; strong, even, smooth jaw line; regular record of healthy feeding and defecating schedule. It is very important to keep a journal for each animal that records feeding, refusing, defecation, shedding, unusual behavior, changes in behavior and dates of bulb changes. This will help your veterinarian trouble-shoot any health issues.

We recommend physical exams every year or two years with an exotic pet veterinarian for pet lizards, reptiles and amphibians. If your vet sees your pet regularly, many common conditions that afflict pet lizards, reptiles and amphibians can be caught and treated early. If not caught early enough or if left untreated, many of these conditions can become far worse if not fatal.

SIGNS OF ILLNESS:

Irregular skin; small reddish brown spots (mites) around mouth, eye area, ear area; irregular jaw line, ‘dents’ in mouth with (or without) cottage cheese-like material (mouth rot); cloudy eyes or dull colored body when not in a shed; thinned body; irregular feeding and defecating habits. Limp, thin body, lethargy, sunken eyes, pinkish patches or spots on belly or sides; obvious bite marks or wounds from cage mate or prey. Red, fluid filled patches may indicate thermal burns.

SOME COMMON PROBLEMS INCLUDE:

HEALTH ISSUE: SYMPTOMS: TREATMENT:
Calcium/phosphorus imbalance Failure to grow, weakness, limb deformities and fractures, seizures See exotic pet veterinarian, ensure optimal diet with proper calcium supplementation and UV light.
Intestinal parasites (coccidia and pinworms are common) Failure to grow, loss of appetite, abnormal stools See exotic pet veterinarian (fecal parasite evaluation and appropriate medication).
Skin issues (fungal dermatitis is common) Discoloration (esp. blackening) of the skin Call exotic pet veterinarian. Topical and systemic medications; optimizing enclosure heat & humidity.

©2012 Dawn M. Trainor-Scalise

Courtesy of: Specialized Care for Avian & Exotic Pets

In conjunction with Pet Supplies “Plus”

10882 Main Street, Clarence, NY 14031

Ph (716) 759-0144

www.buffalobirdnerd.com