How to Care for Your Jeweled Lacerta
(photo credit Wikipedia)
Jeweled Lacertas (Timon lepidus) are medium to large sized (12-24” or larger), diurnal, semi-arboreal reptiles native to western Europe. They are notable for their distinctive coloring —bright green with blue iridescent circular markings that give them their “Jeweled” appearance. They have long, thin tails which make up about 2/3 of their body length. Consequently, they are relatively light for their length. They can be tamed, but are generally not amenable to much handling. They are very active reptiles but also spend their time basking in bushes and on rocks in order to increase their body temperature. Jeweled Lacertas should be considered as intermediate level pets due to their high level of activity, and heating and lighting needs.
A single Jeweled Lacerta may be housed in an enclosure at least 48”x12”x 12” high; keeping more than one together will necessitate a larger enclosure. Most Jeweled Lacerta keepers recommend some sort of rough, particulate substrate such as wood bark, sand and rock mixture or excavator clay, in order to approximate their natural habitat and allow them to burrow as desired.
Jeweled Lacertas bask during the day in order to maintain their body heat and require a structure they can climb on to bring them closer to their basking light source. This can be a branch, rock or other platform. Structures should be securely anchored to prevent them tipping and injuring the lizard. A variety of branch and rock shelters as well as a container that can be used as a hide will allow the Jeweled Lacertas to feel less exposed and will give them areas to explore. The enclosure should be misted several times a week to maintain a humidity of approximately 50%. A small water bowl, heavy enough to prevent tipping, should be provided for hydration.
Heating and Lighting
Since they are diurnal reptiles, Jeweled Lacertas require two kinds of lighting: a source of UVB throughout the cage to provide vitamin D3 for metabolizing calcium, and a focused basking light to provide heat and mimic the desert sun. By placing the basking light at one end of the enclosure, it’s possible to establish a heat gradient with a range of temperatures throughout the enclosure.
The recommended UVB light is a full-spectrum 10.0 florescent bulb that runs most of the length of the enclosure. The fixture can be placed inside the cage underneath the cover or on top of a mesh cover. If the fixture is placed on top of the cage, a glass cage cover should not be used, since the UVB will not penetrate through the glass. Florescent bulbs decrease in the amount of UVB emitted with time. It’s safest to replace the bulb every 6 months, though a more accurate schedule can be determined if a UV meter is purchased and used to check UV levels.
The basking light can be a flood light or halogen light and should provide a heat level of approximately 85-90 F when the lizard is on its perch. The daytime temperature of the enclosure should range from the mid-80’s on the warm side where the basking light is, to the mid-70’s on the cool side. A night time temperature drop into the high 60’s is allowed; supplemental heating should be used if the ambient temperature drops below that level.
Food and Supplementation
Jeweled Lacertas are primarily carnivorous and have large appetites. They also enjoy fruit as a treat. Adult Jeweled Lacertas should be fed a variety of bugs and worms every day, including roaches, crickets, hornworms, silkworms, superworms, butterworms or NutriGrubs (black soldier fly larvae, also known as phoenix worms). Needless to say, Dubia Roaches are a wonderful staple food for Jeweled Lacertas!
Jeweled Lacertas require calcium to build strong bones, vitamin D3 to metabolize the calcium and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. It’s generally recommended to dust their prey with calcium, vitamin D3 and other vitamins using a commercially available product at least once a week.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to Jeweled Lacertas, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.