Jeweled Lacerta (Ocellated Lizard)

By Snaketracks / October 15, 2019
Jeweled Lacerta

Jeweled Lacerta Care Sheet

The bright green jeweled lacerta is also known as the ocellated lizard. These lizards have blue eyes and sparkling spots that line their back in a rosette pattern. Although they are quite large lizards, with males reaching lengths of two feet, they are light in weight.

Additionally, they are active diurnal reptiles and are fun to watch. Although they are usually not docile, they make great pets. Their attractive coloration and patterns make them desirable pets.

Quick Reference Section

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Lacertidae
  • Scientific Name: Timon lepidus
  • Average Adult Size: 0.98 to 1.97 feet (300 – 600 mm)
  • Lifespan: 12 to 20 years
  • Clutch Size: 22 eggs
  • Egg Incubation Period: 80 to 90 days
  • Food: Insects & fruits
  • Tank Size:  50 – 120 gallons (depending on size)
  • Average Temperature: 85°H/75°L
  • Humidity: 50%
  • UVB Lighting: Needed
  • Average Price Range: $30 to $100
  • Conservation Status: Near threatened on IUCN Redlist

Facts and Information

Ocellated Lizards

The T. lepidus is most prevalent in Spain and Portugal. Insular populations can also be found in western, southern and south-central France as well as in northwestern Italy. Wild populations are also endemic to several Atlantic islands along the coasts of Spain and Portugal. They are even present in a few Mediterranean islands. They live at elevations of 0 m to 2,500 m.

The Timon lepidus belongs to the family Lacertidae. This family is referred to as true lizards, wall lizards, and lacertas. The family contains some of the most commonly seen lizard species of the old world.

As such, the jeweled lacerta looks exactly like what you would expect a lizard to look like. They are quite large though and grow to between 1 to 2 feet. Males can even reach lengths of 3 feet.

They are surprisingly light and weigh just 1 lb (0.5 kg). They have long tails that have up about two-thirds of their total length. They are usually bright green in color with dark stippling that forms bold patterns of rosettes.

They also have bright blue spots that reflect light. Their sparkling spots and colorful appearance is what has earned them the name jeweled lacerta.

Jeweled Lacerta Habitat

This species is native to open and dry areas of meadows, vineyards, olive groves, scrubland, woodland, arable areas, and sandy sites. They can also be found in rabbit burrows, stone walls, and bushes.

Enclosure

The species does well in a large reptile terrarium. As active species, they prefer large enclosures that allow for a lot of movement. A small enclosure can easily stress the large lizard.

As such, it is best to avoid getting small enclosures. Since they are temperate reptiles, they can also be kept outdoors especially during spring and summer.

As seasonal temperatures drop, you can move them inside. If you decide to house them outside ensure you provide a basking spot with access to direct sunlight as well as a shelter from the sun and the rain.

For the larger males, a 48 x 12 x 12 in. enclosure such as the Carolina Custom Extra-Long Cages Terrarium will do. For the smaller female, a 36 x 18 x 12 in. enclosure will do. You can also house the female in an enclosure as large as the male’s enclosures are.

It isn’t advisable to house more than 1 jeweled lacerta in an enclosure. They are very aggressive especially when it comes to feeding. They fight over food and will end up injuring one another. The aggressive behavior can even result in death.

Spot clean the enclosure whenever you can. You can also create a self-cleaning enclosure with the help of Potato Bugs and Springtails.

Substrate

Because the jeweled lacerta are burrowers, the bedding must be at least half a foot deep. The substrate should be pliable enough to hold shape when the lizard digs. A mix of coco mulch and play soil or potting soil is good. I recommend Pure Organic Play Sand and SpongEase Coco Fiber Mulch.

 The substrate needs to be moist so the burrow dug doesn’t collapse easily.

Temperature

As species endemic to temperate Europe, they don’t require high temperatures. Create a temperature gradient within the enclosure with a warm end of 85 F and a cool end of 75 F.

The lizard needs a basking spot with varying temperatures. Create such a basking spot by creating a series of steps that move towards the light. This ensures that the part of the basking surface closer to the heat lamp is warmer than the area farther from the heat lamp. Do this with the help of flat slates.

There are several heating options that work well.  I recommend a ceramic heat lamp such as the OMAYKEY 2 Pack 100W ceramic heat lamps can easily be regulated using a temperature controller without affecting light output. You can also use a mercury vapor lamp such as the Evergreen 100 Watt UVA/UVB Mercury Vapor Bulb.

At night, a heat source is not needed unless you live in a locale where year-round night temperatures are below 70 F.

Lighting

The jeweled lacertas need full-spectrum light to maintain their beautiful vibrant coloration. Jeweled lacerta housed outdoors receives all the needed light from the sun.

Even indoors, the enclosure may receive indirect sunlight. Provide full-spectrum fluorescent lamps or low wattage incandescent or halogen lamps. I recommend the Zoo Med Repti Sun 10.0 UVB.

Humidity

Humidity levels needn’t be high. A moderate humidity level is okay. Spray the substrate every other day to keep the substrate moist, and have a hide box with moist peat moss. Maintain humidity level of 50 – 60%.

Accessories

Decorate the enclosure with rocks such as slate, driftwood, cork bark, and large branches. Although they aren’t arboreal, they can climb and ensure they have climbing opportunities.

Arrange the rocks starting at the base of the enclosure. Don’t place the rock on the substrate, as the lizard may dig under it and end up getting crushed. Provide a large rectangular hide as already discussed.

You can use clayey pots or even Tupperware container with a large hole made in it as a hide. Commercial hide boxes also work well.

Feeding the Jeweled Lacerta

Jeweled Lacerta on log

The best part of keeping a jeweled lacerta is feeding it. As they are food motivated, they never turn down meals. They eat both plants and insects.

You can feed them with red wigglers, darkling beetles as well as the larvae (mealworms), superworms, crickets, hornworms, silkworms, dubia roaches, and garden snails. Insects can be farmed in an apartment or in the garage with little effort. Crickets can be loud though.

If you want to raise your own food, we have two guides on building a mealworm farm and setting up a cricket farm you can check out to learn more.

As treats, feed them waxworms, butterworms, and tiny pieces of boiled chicken. These treats must be fed to the lizards about once every two weeks. Insects collected outdoors are not advisable as they may contain traces of pesticide.

As already mentioned, the jeweled lacerta eats fruits. You can offer them strawberries, peaches, mangoes, bananas, pears, and apples. Cut the fruit into very small manageable sizes.

Dust their food with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements such as Zoo Med Reptile Calcium with Vitamin D3, Zilla Vitamin Supplement Food Spray or Repashy Calcium Plus most days.

Repashy Calcium Plus is my favorite supplement to use. Not only does it contain the required amount of calcium, it also contains all the needed vitamins and nutrients in the right quantities. Also, gut-load the insects before offering them to the jeweled lacerta.

Feed the jeweled lacerta every day if possible. Offer them as much as they can eat in a feeding. Remove all uneaten insects as they can bite and irritate the lizard.

Jeweled Lacerta’s Temperament

These lizards are shy and skittish. It takes several months for them to acclimatize to any new enclosure. Additionally, they don’t like to be handled. However, captive-bred jeweled lacertas are much easier to handle. Even with that, it is best to only handle them occasionally.

One good opportunity to handle them is during feeding. Unlike other animals that hate being handled, the jeweled lacerta won’t shy away once food is offered. This allows the lizard to familiarize itself with you.

As with other reptiles, dark spaces give them comfort. Drop a towel on it (this essentially covers the face) to calm it down. Similarly, you can turn off the lights. When you do handle them, place your hand underneath the lizard and lift it gently.

Jeweled Lacerta’s Lifespan

young jeweled lacerta

With proper husbandry, jeweled lacertas live long. They can easily grow to be 20 years. With an average lifespan of 12 to 20 years, it is important to be committed before acquiring one.

Common Health Concerns

These lizards are relatively easy to care for and hardly suffer from health issues. A healthy jeweled lacerta will have a clean pink mouth, clear nostrils, long healthy toes, a full belly, clear bright eyes, and an active demeanor. Some common lizard health concerns include

Metabolic Bone Disease

This is caused by malnutrition, lack of calcium and vitamin supplementation, and/or lack of UV light. Calcium and vitamin D3 deficiency is the root of this disease.

To prevent MBD, supplement the reptile’s meal with calcium and vitamin D3. Additionally, provide the lizard with full-spectrum light. Symptoms include repetitive bone fracture, softening of bone, shedding problems, convulsions, and eye problems such as swelling and clouding.

Superficial cases can be treated by increasing access to UV light and increasing calcium and vitamin D3 supplements. If the symptoms persist, see the vet.

Hypervitaminosis

This occurs when you feed the lizard too much vitamin supplements. To prevent this go with the recommended dosage on the supplements’ labels. If unsure of how much vitamins to offer your lizard, see a vet.

Lack of appetite

If your lizard is refusing to eat, you need to see the vet if the problem persists. As temperate reptiles, jeweled lacertas may become inactive and refuse to eat during the cooler seasons – fall and winter.

Pricing and Availability

Although not among the commonest lizard species, the jeweled lacerta can still be found online and in some specialized reptile pet shops. They aren’t that common in reptile expos. If you do find one, don’t expect to pay too much for them (between $100 and $150), although they are gorgeous reptiles. This is due to low demand.

Some online sites where you can find jeweled lacertas include Snakes at Sunset, LLLReptiles, Underground Reptiles, and Backwater Reptiles.

Conservation/Threats

The T. lepidus is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List since their wild populations are decreasing. In fact, several insular populations and the Italian populations are near extinction. The main threats to wild populations include habitat loss, pollution, poisoning and the decline of wild rabbits (predators of wild rabbits feed on T. lepidus more since there are fewer wild rabbits).

The species is listed on Annex III of the Bern Convention. This conservation protects European wildlife and natural habitats.

Conclusion

These attractive lizards are fun to have. They may just be one of the best lizard species to have as a pet. Their enclosure needn’t be too large and they do well with little to no interaction.

As far as to provide them with a warm place to bask and plenty of UV rays, they grow wonderfully and live long. As with many other species of lizards, they thrive better alone. If you have any questions or comments about this colorful reptile, kindly leave them below.

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