How to Care for Your Long-Tailed Grass Lizard
Long-tailed grass lizards (Takydromus sexlineatus) are small, diurnal, terrestrial lizards native to southeast Asia. They live primarily in tall, moist grasslands, but are also capable climbers.
Long-tailed grass lizards can grow up to 10-12” long, but true to their name, roughly two-thirds of that length is just their tail! This species has an extremely slender body and tail, with a streamlined head, narrow limbs, and long toes. Their scales are primarily rectangular and keeled. Their coloring is generally alternating lateral bands of brown and green or tan.
Due to their delicate build and general low handleability, long-tailed grass lizards are intermediate-level pet reptiles. Not much is known about how to help these lizards thrive in captivity, which adds an additional challenge. However, with good care, they should be able to live more than 6 years in captivity.
How much space do long-tailed grass lizards need?
Long-tailed grass lizards are active lizards who need plenty of space for running around and climbing. A single long-tailed grass lizard should be housed in absolutely no smaller than a 30” x 12” x 12” terrarium, and larger is preferable.
Cohabitation (keeping multiple long-tailed grass lizards together) is optional, although males will fight if kept together, and males and females should not be kept together unless you plan to breed them. Do not breed your lizards unless you are fully prepared to accommodate the babies. Breeding is a serious project that should not be attempted casually.
Do long-tailed grass lizards need UVB?
Long-tailed grass lizards are diurnal, which means that they are most active during the day. They require exposure to UVB light for their survival, and also benefit from bright plant grow lights in their environment. Lights should be on for 11.5 hours/day during winter and 12.5 hours/day during summer to simulate seasonal changes in day length.
The best UVB bulbs for long-tailed grass lizards are:
- Zoo Med T8 Reptisun 10.0 — 3-4” above basking branch
- Arcadia T5 HO 6% — 4-6” above basking branch
The UVB bulb should be roughly half to two-thirds the length of the enclosure, housed in a reflective fixture, and placed close to the heat lamp. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so you can’t give your lizard UVB by placing its terrarium in front of an open window. Also make sure that the fixture your UVB bulb is in does not have a clear plastic bulb cover.
As day-active lizards, long-tailed grass lizards are also likely to benefit from a 6500K LED or T5 HO fluorescent grow light to provide extra bright light in the enclosure and better simulate the effects of the sun.
What basking temperatures do long-tailed grass lizards need?
Long-tailed grass lizards should have a basking temperature of 90-95°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe placed on the basking branch. There should be a cooler area on the opposite side of the enclosure that stays between 75-85°F, monitored by another digital probe thermometer. Heating should be turned off at night, and nighttime temperatures can safely drop as low as 65°F.
Provide heat for your lizard by imitating the sun with a halogen heat lamp placed on one side of the enclosure. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective.
What humidity levels do long-tailed grass lizards need?
Long-tailed grass lizards need a moderately high humidity environment for best health. Average humidity should be 70-80%, as measured by a digital probe hygrometer with the probe in the middle of the terrarium.
Misting your lizard’s enclosure with a sprayer first thing in the morning and again at night will help create the right humidity levels. It also provides an important source of drinking water!
What substrate is good for long-tailed grass lizards?
Substrate covers the floor of your lizard’s terrarium and helps make the enclosure more attractive, but it also helps maintain humidity. It’s ideal to use a substrate that imitates the “substrate” that the reptile naturally lives on in the wild. For long-tailed grass lizards, that means it should resemble tropical soil. It should have small particles and hold moisture well.
We recommend the following substrates for long-tailed grass lizards:
Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.
Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.
What décor can you use in a long-tailed grass lizard terrarium?
It’s terribly boring for a lizard to be stuck in an enclosure with nothing in it except the bare minimum. It doesn’t matter how big the enclosure is if you don’t put things in it for your pet to use and interact with. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- branches and vines
- climbing rocks
- live or artificial plants
Looking at photos of a reptile in its natural habitat is a great way to get enclosure décor inspiration!
What do long-tailed grass lizards eat?
Long-tailed grass lizards are insectivorous, which means that they need to eat insects (preferably live) in order to get the nutrition that their bodies need. How often they need to eat depends on age: Juveniles should be fed daily but fully-grown adults can be fed only every other day. Offer as many insects as the lizard is capable of eating in about 5 minutes. For best results, let them hunt for the insects inside their enclosure!
Feeder insects for long-tailed grass lizards: dubia roaches, discoid roaches, crickets, black soldier flies, hornworms, mealworms, flightless fruit flies
You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to prevent your pet from developing a deficiency. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all of your lizard’s feeder insects.
Although your lizard will get most of its drinking water from daily mistings, it’s a good idea to also provide a wall-mounted water dish. Always keep the water clean, and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly.
Do long-tailed grass lizards like to be handled?
Few reptiles actually “like” to be held, and long-tailed grass lizards aren’t one of them. Instead of interacting with your lizard by holding it, try hand-feeding it instead with a pair of feeding tweezers.
If you have to grab your lizard, be VERY gentle — they’re quite delicate, and may drop their tail as a defense! They may bite when grabbed, but they can’t significantly harm human skin, and is likely to feel like a soft pinch — more startling than actually painful.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please do further research with high-quality sources to obtain additional information on caring for this species.
"Long-tailed Grass Lizard, Takydromus sexlineatus Daudin, 1802" by Misenus1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0