If you want to know how to care for a Jeweled Lacerta, you’ve come to the right place! The origin of the lizard’s peculiar name is the pattern of blue spots on its skin, which resemble embedded jewels. Because of this, the jeweled Lacerta is one of the most visually striking pet lizards anyone could own.
To enjoy its beauty, there are a couple of things you need to know. Read on to find every fact, detail, and tip needed to care for a pet Jeweled Lacerta.
Jeweled Lacerta Appearance
Their coloration is variable: the back can range from brownish to green, even mottled, although generally light greenish tones with abundant black markings dominate. On their sides, you can watch two or three rows of blue spots called “ocelli” or “lepidos” (meaning “scales”).
These rounded spots are also larger in males than in females. Juvenile Lacertas however, are greenish-black or olive green with white or light yellow spots bordered with black arranged transversely on the flanks, they may also have blue ocelli.
The ventral area is yellowish or greenish-yellow, and the tail is sometimes reddish, which may indicate regeneration of their tailpiece.
Average Jeweled Lacerta Size
The Jeweled Lacerta is among the largest lizards inhabiting Western Europe, with a maximum size range between 30 to 35 inches (75 to 90 cm) in found wildlife specimens.
However, as pets in a regular enclosure, males usually reach 20 to 24 inches (50 to 60 cm), whereas females, who tend to be smaller, have an average size of 16 to 20 inches (40 to 50 cm). They are the largest lizard species native to the Iberic peninsula.
Even though they are not necessarily the easiest pet lizard, the lifespan of a jeweled Lacerta is long with quality care. The life expectancy of this species ranges from 12 to 10 years. If you wish to reach the upper end of this range, you must be aware of all the needs and requirements of your pet Lacerta.
Be sure to acquire a specimen bred in captivity, as these lizards are a threatened species. Besides, by acquiring a pet bred in captivity, you’re making sure your pet Lacerta grows in a stress-free environment, helping you reach the upper end of the lifespan.
Jeweled Lacerta Care
Caring for a Jeweled Lacerta requires understanding and fulfilling some basic needs and other trickier requirements. It is not the easiest pet lizard when considering their behavior, as they are easily stressed, aggressive in many situations, and not handleable like other reptiles.
Because of it, jeweled lizards are not suitable pets for children. If you wish to own a jeweled Lacerta, it is wise to develop some experience caring for easier reptiles or lizards before jumping to it. This lizard species is better suited for advanced, experienced exotic pet owners.
Like other reptilians, jeweled Lacertas need an environment that does not stray too far from their natural habitat. If they feel their enclosure is natural enough, they can thrive and live long and happy lives. Here are some pointers for designing a perfect enclosure:
- A terrarium with a size of 4x2x3 feet (roughly 120x60x90 cm) as a minimum is appropriate for a male jeweled Lacerta This size represents approximately the area of a 40-gallon tank which is okay too.
- Since female specimens tend to be a little smaller, keeping them in a similar o smaller enclosure is relatively fine. A 3x2x2 feet tank (roughly 90x60x60 cm) should be the minimum.
- However, if you can afford a bigger room for your jeweled Lacerta feel free to do so! They love having space to explore, especially if they have resting and hiding spots.
- If you wish to keep more than a single jeweled Lacerta as a pet, you will need separate tanks for each one, male-on-male aggression is the expected behavior for these lizards, as they are territorial. As soon as two males face each other, they will fight for land and food.
- If you have one male and one female and wish to breed them, place them together for as little time as possible, granted they can mate. The mating behavior of the male Lacerta is often aggressive, meaning it might hurt the female in the process.
- If you have hatchlings, place them in separate tanks as they grow. The stronger hatchlings might try and kill or eat the weaker ones. It’s best to keep them apart to prevent that behavior.
- Make sure to get an enclosure with a robust lid. This shouldn’t be a surprise if you’re an experienced reptile owner but. like any other lizard. Jeweled Lacertas might attempt to adventure outside the enclosure when given the chance.
- As with any other pet reptile, hiding spots are a must. Place two or three in the enclosure at least one where your Lacerta can completely hide and another for partial hiding. Exploring and having several safe places is vital for jeweled Lacertas, as they are nervous lizards.
- The flooring substrate needs a minimum of 6 inches (roughly 15 cm) for these lizards to be comfortable, as Lacertas love to dig and burrow.
- Play sand is the bare minimum for your floor substrate. An ideal material would be a mixture of cocoa mulch and play or potting soil.
- Jeweled Lacerta lizards also love to climb, so a couple of branches or inclines will make your pet Lacerta happy.
- Decorating your enclosure with plants and greenery will improve your pet’s mood, as it will stimulate their natural habitat.
- If you wish to include rocks in your enclosure, make sure to put them at the base of the enclosure rather than on top of the substrate.
Temperature & Lighting
A typical lizard enclosure has both lighting and temperature distributed across the enclosure in gradients. A terrarium for the Jeweled Lacerta is no exception. The ideal heat distribution results in a warm side (basking zone) and a cold side (cooling zone).
Lacerta like any other lizard species needs both to regulate their body temperature. Your basking zone must reach approximately 90 to 95 F. Place the highest terrain in this zone (branches, inclines).
Expert Tip: Depending on the tools you choose to control the enclosure’s temperature, you might need to expand it. This way the difference between the basking and cooling zones will not be too overpowering for your jeweled Lacerta.
Also, try to install both your light and heat source so that they hit the enclosure indirectly. Your jeweled Lacerta might suffer burns and dehydration from direct heat in its basking zone.
In the wild, Jeweled Lacertas seek mostly dry environments. However, these lizards are not particularly sensitive or dependent on specific humidity conditions. Misting the enclosure once a day to reach an average of 50-60% humidity is enough for the jeweled Lacerta.
Of course, investing in a good hygrometer will pay off. Its reliable measurement will reflect on your pet lizard’s mood and health.
Even though they prefer dry environments. Jeweled Lacertas need lots of fresh water. When misting, make sure to sprinkle some of the water near your pet lizard. Also, they need to have a water bowl from which they will drink.
A water source inside the enclosure will allow your pet Lacerta to hydrate and help stabilize the enclosure’s humidity level. The bowl should be large and flat enough so the lizard can’t tip it over by accident. Make sure to change the water daily and place the bowl where the jeweled Lacerta cannot throw substrate into it.
Feeding & Diet
The Jeweled Lacerta is classifiable as omnivorous, although some specialists describe it as mainly insectivorous. The basis of its diet consists of large-sized insects such as grasshoppers, worms, small mammals, bird eggs, and even other lizards.
However, its most common prey is medium to large Coleoptera. This lizard species stands out for its appetite, which is also evident in the strength of its bites.
A healthy diet for a pet jeweled Lacerta consists mainly in:
If you wish to improve your pet Lacerta’s nutrition, remember to dust these insects with a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement. You can also feed your jeweled Lacerta sparingly with some fruits and plants, such as:
- Mashed banana
- Diced mango
- Seedless grapes
- Grated carrots
- Dandelion flowers
They love to hunt their meals, so choosing to feed them live prey is ideal. They will also love to find eggs from time to time. Feed your lizard only with organic, free-range eggs in moderation to avoid hormonal issues.
In the wild, the canine teeth of the adults allow them to access bigger and tougher animals as prey, such as the occasional rodent.
Expert Tip: Their diet requires them to eat only once a day. It is vital to feed them as much as they can eat in a single meal and remove the uneaten prey or fruit afterward. Also, do not oversaturate your jeweled Lacerta with fruit, as it might cause digestive issues.
Potential Health Issues
The potential health issues that a jeweled Lacerta could suffer are common to reptiles. If you have previous experience with pet lizards or snakes, jeweled Lacertas become easy to handle.
Since these lizards are very active during the day. sluggish movement and lack of appetite are clear warning signs. Having an expert on exotic animals as your primary veterinarian doctor is especially handy.
Also, it is vital to thoroughly clean your pet enclosure weekly, plus do spot cleanups daily or every other day after your pet lizard has finished its meal. This routine will guarantee that your pet and its living space are free of bacteria, parasites, and dust that could harm Lacerta’s health.
Behavior & Temperament
It copes very well with high temperatures, it stays cooler by moving only on all four legs and lifting its tail. In this way, it also can run very fast to pursue prey or to flee from threats.
Despite its robustness, it is very agile, not only when moving on the ground but also when climbing. This ability saves it on many occasions from predators, from which it flees by climbing quickly up tree trunks.
The jeweled Lacerta is a highly territorial lizard species. Males usually compete with other males for territory and food, engaging in combats where they try to bite each other. They will also resort to biting or climbing trees to avoid becoming prey to large birds and other lizards. As a last resort, they can sever their tail from their bodies, which they will eventually regrow.
In the wild, they hibernate from November to February. After these months, they begin their reproductive period, starting in April and with more emphasis during June. It is common for the male to bite the female’s sides during copulation.
The female lays a single annual clutch of 15 to 20 eggs and deposits them in a nest dug by herself. These eggs eventually hatch three to five months later, although the young will not reach maturity until three years later. In a controlled enclosure, the female can mate and lay its eggs at any time of the year.
The jeweled Lacerta is also prey and forms part of the diet of different birds of prey, other larger reptiles, and other predatory species such as the white stork or herons. Because of the previous reason, sudden shadows over their enclosure will startle them.
A pet jeweled Lacerta is an excellent pet for both experienced and dedicated lizard pet keepers. Its robust body and beautiful scale patterns make it an alluring lizard to see in action. However, its behavior shows that they are shy and easily stressed, thus not the kind of lizard that allows handling by its owner unless it is strictly needed.
Challenging pets like the Jeweled Lacerta often are the most satisfying in the long run! Do you have any questions about the care of this lovely lizard? Let us know below in the comments section. Thanks for reading!