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Jeweled Lizard

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Species group:

Other common names: Jeweled Lacerta; Eyed Lizard; Ocellated Lizard

Scientific name: Lacerta lepida / Timon lepidus

The basics:
The Jeweled Lizard is native to Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and northwestern Africa. This ground-dwelling species inhabits sunny and rocky open spaces, thorn bushed and forest slopes and stonewalls. They hide by digging burrows, occupying rodent tunnels, and slipping into hollow trees and under big rocks.

Appearance / health:
Jeweled Lizards are among the largest lizard species in Europe, growing up to two feet in length, with the tail almost twice as long as the body. The base color of the body is green, brown, or greenish gray. Blue spots (resembling jewels or eyes) are present on the back. These rosette markings are more striking on the male, which also has a bigger head, brighter colors, and more pronounced femoral pores than the female.

Behavior / temperament:
Lacerta lepida are ground-dwellers but they are also fond of climbing walls and branches. When threatened, they open their mouths, hiss, and sometimes jump to attack. They lose their tails when necessary.

Housing:
Jeweled Lizards are best kept in a medium to large dry terrarium with a substrate that is about 2 inches deep. The enclosure must contain several hiding places like hollow bark and stable piles of rock, plus a climbing wall, lots of branches and a large stone slab for basking. A water bowl is also essential. Depending on the weather, Jeweled Lizards can be kept outdoors. Day temp: 73-82F; night temp: 61-68F; basking temp: 95-113F; humidity: 60-70%; lighting: 10-12 hours. UV radiation required.

Lacerta lepida is best kept in pairs or as a group with one male because they are territorial especially during the mating season. Enclosure conditions must be monitored to provide adequate temperature and humidity levels. Drinking and soaking water must be refreshed daily. Under optimum conditions, these lizards can live up to 25 years in captivity.

Diet:
Lacerta lepida is easy to feed because it is omnivorous. It eats insects (crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches), small rodents, snails, grubs, and slugs, as well as sweet soft fruit (bananas, peaches, apricot, strawberries). In captivity, they will also eat eggs and chopped non-fat meat. Gut-loaded and mineral-dusted insects are recommended.

Breeding:
Jeweled Lizards reach sexual maturity in 2-3 years. They are egg-layers, depositing 1-3 clutches of 8-20 eggs in a moist spot in the ground. In captivity, an egg-laying box of moist vermiculite or peat moss should be provided. Eggs hatch in 3-4 months.

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