Japanese Grass Lizard

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Species group:

Scientific name: Takydromus tachydromoides

The basics: The Long-Tailed Grass Lizard is found throughout most of Japan, from Hokkaido to Honshu, and on several small offshore islands.

Japan’s most abundant reptile, it inhabits meadows, the grassy margins of canals, roadways and farms, brushy scrub habitat and forest edges. Assisted by its long, somewhat prehensile tail, the Long-Tailed Grass Lizard forages for insects at the tops of grasses and thinly-branched shrubs.

Appearance / health: The Long-Tailed Grass Lizard is very slender and streamlined in build, with an average length of 6-8 inches, most of which is made up of tail (in related species, the tail may be up to 5x the length of the body). The body color ranges from light tan to dark brown, and there are numerous irregular dark markings and black-edged white spots along the sides.

Temperament: Ever alert for predators and prey, Long-Tailed Grass Lizards tend to remain high-strung in captivity, and are best thought of as pets to observe rather than handle.

Housing: Long-Tailed Grass Lizards are active and will not thrive in close quarters. They usually do well in groups if provided enough space and cover, but should be watched for aggression. High-style aquariums that allow climbing space make the best homes for these largely arboreal lizards.

A sand/peat moss mix may be used as the substrate. Shy by nature, they are best provided with numerous caves and cork bark rolls in which to shelter. Clumps of stout dry or live beach grass and thin branches will allow them climbing opportunities. Long-Tailed Grass Lizards are ideally suited to planted terrariums, and will make use of most live plants. The cage should be located in a quiet, undisturbed area of the home, as these alert little creatures are very aware of their surroundings and easily stressed by unexpected noises and movements.

Long-Tailed Grass Lizards fare best when afforded a temperature gradient of 78-85 F; a dip to 70-75 F at night may be beneficial; Basking temperature: 95 F. UVB exposure is essential.

Long-Tailed Grass Lizards produce small, dry droppings – spot cleaning is sufficient to maintain cage hygiene. In colony situations, care must be taken to assure that subordinate animals are getting enough food and basking opportunities.

Diet: The few available studies indicate that wild Long-Tailed Grass Lizards feed primarily upon ants, beetles, spiders, various flies, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other invertebrates.

A varied diet comprised of small roaches, crickets, sow bugs, butter worms, lab-reared houseflies, silkworms and wild-caught insects, along with vitamin/mineral supplements, is essential to their well-being; crickets and mealworms alone, even if supplemented with vitamins, will not provide adequate nutrition.

Breeding: Breeding may be expected throughout much of the year. Clutches typically contain 2-4 eggs, which are usually buried just below the soil or under other cover. The eggs may be incubated in moist vermiculite at 82-86 F for 28-35 days.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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