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Grass Lizards and Asian Racers as Pets

With their unusually long tails, bright colors and active lifestyles, Grass Lizards and Asian Racers have been generating a great deal of interest among reptile enthusiasts in recent years. Although most Grass Lizards offered in the pet trade are still wild-caught, hobbyists have bred several species, and this should become more common as their popularity increases.

Classification

The world’s 21 Grass Lizard and Asian Racer species are classified in the family Lacertidae (home also to other popular pets, such as the Wall Lizards) and the genus Takydromus.

Range and Habitat

Grass Lizards are found throughout much of Asia, from India to eastern China south through Malaysia.

Most Grass Lizards are ground-dwellers, but several species spent most of their time in bushes and on low tree limbs. They favor open, sunny habitats with ample cover in the form of tall grass, brush, dead logs and rock piles. One type or another may be found in forest edges, farms, arid scrub, brushy grasslands, riverside thickets, and many other similar environments.

Appearance and Temperament

All Grass Lizards are alert and active, and have thin, streamlined bodies. Unusually-long tails, which may be 2-5 times the body-length, distinguish them from most other lizards. Background colors range from tan through bright, emerald green; stripes, bars and spots help to camouflage them among grasses and leaf litter. Most Grass Lizards measure 8-12 inches when fully-grown.

Grass Lizards are ever-wary, and tend to remain high strung in captivity. They fare best in large enclosures stocked with plants, leaf-litter and caves, and rarely take well to handling. Captive-bred individuals, however, tend to be much calmer, and make better pets.

Grass Lizard Housing

Grass Lizards are out and about by day, and are very active. They are ideally suited for life in large, planted terrariums, where their group dynamics will keep even the most experienced keeper fascinated.

Long-tailed Grass Lizards do best in “high-style” aquariums that allow climbing space. A sand/peat moss mix may be used as the substrate, and caves and cork bark rolls will provide sheltering sites. Clumps of stout dry or live grass and thin branches will allow them climbing opportunities; they will make use of most live plants. Temperature gradient 76-82 F; Basking temperature: 90-95 F. UVB exposure is essential.

Grass Lizard Diet

Grass Lizards and Asian Racers are insectivores. They feed on moths, spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, and other insects.

In captivity, a highly-varied diet, calcium and vitamin supplementation, and exposure to UVB is essential for success with these fascinating lizards.