Species group: Curly-tailed Lizards
Scientific name: Leiocephalus carinatus
The Northern Curly-tailed Lizard is a lizard species from the family of Curly-tailed lizards (Leiocephalidae). It is native to the Bahama Islands, the Cayman Islands and Cuba but was released intentionally in Palm Beach, Florida in the 1940s. An active, robust lizard, it is mostly terrestrial and will retreat into a burrow or cavity when frightened. It prefers sunny areas with loose rubble and rock.
superior agility, Caicos Islands, wax worms
From Kacie Bingham Sep 29 2017 6:36PM
Most of my comments here will be in regards to the Northern Curly-tail Lizard's southern relative, the Turks & Caicos Islands Curly-tail Lizard (L. psammodromus) -- which is nearly identical in husbandry demands though not available commercially (NB: If it is found for sale, they were obtained illegally).
Curly tails are extremely active diurnal (day-active) foragers on forest floor, dune scrub, and other upland habitats in the Lucayan Archipelago (which includes The Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos Islands). They are fairly ubiquitous in their habitat and can be found in surprisingly dense populations. They live in holes they dig themselves, often under rocks or prostrate tree trunks, and they will retreat to these holes when frightened.
The keys to keeping these lizards well are heat and space. They live in warm environments with warm air and ground that gets surprisingly hot. They are best kept at 85-90F during the day, and at 78-82F at night. This mimics their natural habitat's temperature gradient, although Northern Curly-tail Lizards can tolerate temperatures well down into the 40's F, seasonally.
They need room too. I'd recommend no less than a 55-gallon or 50-breeder size aquarium, with a substrate of dead leaves over newspaper or even sand. Provide ample retreats and hiding places, and they'll be more confident. They need only a small water container and will rarely drink. Keep the terrarium warm by keeping the ambient temperature warm and provide a basking light, as they do love to bask.
Keep their diet diverse -- in the wild, they regularly eat grubs and caterpillars, so mealworms and superworms, along with waxworms, are ideal. Gut-loaded crickets will also be relished -- feed twice a week with insects, or offer them free-choice in a terrarium with dead leaf substrate so they can find the crickets themselves.
They also love small fruit. Small grapes and any kind of berries are good for them. On a humourous note, my mom feeds those in her yard Honey-nut Cheerios by hand, but I can't imagine that this is a wholesome diet for them -- they need neither the starch nor sugar (Mom also reports her disappointment that they do not like Fruity Pebbles at all!).
Females will lay 2 large, oblong eggs in moist soil or potting mix (provide it in a sturdy crock if you'd like to breed them). The eggs can be incubated at 85-90 F and the babies hatch large and well-developed, and very active and ready to feed themselves. It might be the climate, but I've had Curly-tail Lizards breed for me without even intending to.
Because this lizard exists in an established invasive population in Florida, this is one of the rare cases where buying wild-caught lizards (from Florida) is not a conservation problem. Populations in The Bahamas are in danger of over-collection and from unchecked development, and may in fact not be legal to export. However, the Florida population would be a good source of ecological-impact-free pets.
Locally in the Turks & Caicos Islands, these lizards are called "bugwally" or "happy-tails." The latter name, and their common English name, comes from the vertical coil on the tail, which in young lizards moves like a cartoon spring! These same tails are designed to distract predators from the head, and can detach easily of the lizards are caught. Regrown tails do not have the attractive colours or the springy look of the original tails. Keep handling to a minimum, these are definitely display pets, not cuddly pets. They don't get big enough to do much damage with a bite, but the bites can be painful..
From bnaqqimanco Jul 10 2013 8:47AM