Long-Tailed Lizards

a Long-tailed Lizard walking on a giant leaf

Long-tailed Lizards are native to Southern Russia as far Southeast Asia. They love running and hiding in the tall grasslands there, eating insects all day. They are one of the smallest lizards in the world but have the largest tails proportional to their body size. They are usually not aggressive towards humans, and will allow themselves to be handled without fear.

With the growing interest in exotic pets, especially reptiles, there are more Long-tailed Lizards available for adoption. Long-tailed Lizards are very curious, and will enjoy interacting with their family. They are very agile, and will climb trees and walls. They are very active throughout the day, and will enjoy running around in their enclosure. 

Long-tailed Lizards are not territorial, and if they had a large enough enclosure you could keep several of them together. They are also very curious animals, and will approach anything that moves. They are very agile, and can climb trees and sticks or branches in their enclosure.

Long-tailed Lizards are great with families that have children and love to watch them as much as handle them. Even at their adult length they’re barely a handful for children.

Reputable breeders and pet stores will typically sell Long-tailed Lizards for between $10 and $20.

Long-Tailed Lizard Information

  • Average Length: 12 inches
  • Average Weight: NA
  • Skin Appearance: Scaled
  • Skin Colors: Shades of brown or green
  • Grooming Needs: Low Need
  • Shedding: Every few months
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Biting Tendency: No
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: No
  • Good Pet: They allow people to hand them, so yes!
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Suitable for First-Time Pet Owners: Yes
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Health Concerns: Respiratory Infections and Parasitic Infections
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 5 years

Long-Tailed Lizards live in the grasslands of Southern Russia and Southeast Asia.

Physical Appearance of Long-Tailed Lizards

a Long-tailed Lizard getting ready to jump off of a Marigold flower

Long Tailed Lizards grow up to 12 inches long, with their tail making up around 80 percent of their entire length. They have a prehensile tail, meaning they can use their tail to hang on to things. Their tail allows them to balance their body weight and do things while hanging by their tail.

They have a triangular shaped head with a slim rounded body. Their legs are thin and short. They have an appearance that makes them look similar to a snake.

Long-Tailed Lizards have shades of brown or green skin on their back with black or white stripes. Their underbody is a light cream color. The color of their body lets them easily camouflage in their native environment.

Both males and females look the same with only a slight difference in their tails. The male’s tails are thicker than females and the stripes on the sides of their body are slightly different too. Males stripes are more yellow while females tend to be more cream colored.

Temperament of Long-Tailed Lizards

Long Tailed Lizards are generally calm and peaceful pets. They are quite energetic and like to stay active. Many lizards will go to their basking spot when they wake up. They may bask for a while before they start moving around.

These lizards let their family handle them. They usually don’t bite but can drop their tail if they feel threatened.

Long Tailed Lizards are good community lizards and can be kept in groups of 2 to 3 or with other lizard species. While they’re not as territorial as most other lizards, you’ll still want to greatly increase the size of their enclosure for each lizard you add. Long Tailed Lizards can even be kept with a few other peaceful species like Geckos and Anoles. Again space is the key to making this work. If each animal doesn’t have enough space they’ll become stressed and are more likely to attack another pet.

Their Compatibility with Children

a Long-tailed Lizard with their head poked through a hole in a leaf

Long-Tailed Lizards do really well in people’s homes. They’re not the fast darting and always anxious animals that they are in the wild. Once they’ve adapted to life in your home they make really good pets for children. It’s always a good idea to have an adult supervise their interactions until they know how to play well together.

Anyone handling or touching Long-Tailed Lizards should always wash their hands after being around them. Most lizards are carriers of infectious bacteria like Salmonella which can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Washing their hands should keep your children from contracting bacterial and fungal illnesses from your monitor lizard.

Living Space for Long-Tailed Lizard

Setting up an enclosure for your Long-Tailed Lizard is easy. They can be housed in a small glass enclosure by adding appropriate substrate and decorations. Plastic cages can also be used, but are not as popular or nice as other enclosures.

Having a secure lid on the top of their enclosure is important to keep your lizard from escaping.

Enclosure/Cage Size

These lizards need a large sized enclosure that lets them climb and gives them space to move around. The minimum recommended size is 20”L x 13”W x 17”H but if you have the space for a larger one your pet will appreciate the extra space.

The general rule is to have a 20-gallon enclosure for a single lizard. For each additional lizard, the size of the enclosure should increase by 10-gallon. If you plan to keep 3 lizards, you’ll want at least a 40-gallon tank.

a Long-tailed Lizard about to jump down from being on a yellow Marigold flower

Decorations

Your Long-Tailed Lizard’s enclosure should have decorations that let them climb. Climbing surfaces can be created by adding several branches, cork and vines.

Adding plants inside their tank will create hiding spots for your lizard and help create a more natural feeling environment.

Make sure the decorations are evenly spaced out. A large enclosure with empty spaces can stress your Long-Tailed Lizard.

Substrate

A high-quality absorbent substrate should be used in their enclosure. We recommend using a natural substrate like mulch, peat moss or forest bark. These will create a natural environment in your lizard’s enclosure as well as help keep the humidity high.

Substrates like sand or wood chips shouldn’t be used. These can cause digestive problems if ingested by your lizard.

Best Climate for Long-Tailed Lizard

Long Tailed Lizards need separate warm and hot areas to regulate their body temperature. Placing the heating equipment on one side of the tank will create a temperature gradient.

Temperature

On the warm side of the tank, the temperature can be kept between 75°F to 80°F. The temperature in the basking spot should be kept around 95°F. The night-time temperature should be kept in a range between 65°F to 75°F.

Long Tailed Lizards like to climb and heat lamps and heat emitters are good heating sources because these will keep the entire enclosure heated. Under-tank heat mats are not good as primary heaters because they will not heat the upper parts of the tank. 

a Long-tailed Lizard walking on a leaf

Lighting

Their enclosure should have UVA and UVB lamps that are kept on for 10 hours a day. The bulb can be placed above the wired mesh lid. Make sure that the bulb isn’t kept behind glass because glass can filter out UV rays. The UV bulb should be placed so that it’s able to light everything in the enclosure.

Many families will use a dimmed strip of LED lights to watch their lizard at night. Red lights don’t seem to bother reptiles as much as other lighting can.

Humidity

Long-Tailed Lizards need a humidity kept between 70% and 80% percent. Their enclosure should be misted every day to keep the humidity high. A water drip system or an automatic mister can be added to make sure the humidity doesn’t drop below 70%.

Water Source

A shallow water bowl should be kept inside their enclosure. Your Long-Tailed Lizards may not drink water from the bowl but it is important that they have a water source. The water bowl helps keep the tank humid and lets your lizard soak in water if they get too hot.

The Attention a Long-Tailed Lizard Needs

You’ll want 2 thermometers and a high-quality hygrometer inside your Long-Tailed’s enclosure. The thermometers should be placed on both the warm and hot sides of their tank. Check the temperature and humidity levels regularly and make changes if needed. Giving them an ideal climate is important to keep them healthy and active.

Long Tailed Lizards can be handled occasionally. Sometimes it may take longer to build trust but once they trust you, they’ll be calm around you, and will let you handle them. Never try to force a Long-Tail onto your hand. Always watch them and see if they’re willing to be handled.

They will drop their tails if they feel threatened. Their tail will regrow but because of the length, it may take longer than what it takes for other lizard species.

Health Issues

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections are a common health issue in reptiles. Poor enclosure conditions like excessive cold or humidity as well as stress can lead to respiratory infections or pneumonia. 

Symptoms include:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Bubbles in mouth
  • Labored breathing
  • Lethargy

Take your reptile to your vet if they have any of the above symptoms. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat the disease. If the infection is severe, they may need to be hospitalized.

Respiratory symptoms can become serious if not attended to in the initial stages. Maintaining the right temperature gradient and humidity levels inside their living enclosures can prevent your reptile from getting respiratory diseases.

Parasitic Infections

Intestinal Parasites like roundworms, hookworms or pinworms can cause serious health issues in reptiles. In mild cases, the disease may not show symptoms but in severe cases it can result in:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Behavioral issues
  • Diarrhea
  • Loose Stool
  • Throwing up food

Captive lizards generally contract parasitic infections from other infected reptiles, contaminated food or objects. Regular cleanings to their enclosure can reduce the chances your reptile will be infected from parasites in their environment. Take your pet to your vet if they have the above symptoms.

Parasitic infections have the potential to destroy the digestive tracts of your turtles and must be treated as soon as signs are noticed.

Mites

Mites are tiny black insects that are parasites. They feed off the blood of your reptile, and they can be quite the pain in the butt to get rid of once you have them. Most times they will be caught and sold already having mites, or they’ll get them from another pet.

Symptoms of mites on your reptile:

  • Long soaks in their water
  • Rubbing on objects in their enclosure
  • Tiny black specs on your reptile or objects in their enclosure
  • Tiny black specs on you from handling your reptile

We recommend contacting your vet to find out what treatment they recommend for killing mites. Keep in mind that mites don’t tend to stay in one place, and any other snakes or reptiles kept in the same room could be infested with mites as well. Distance between pets is key, just as washing up between handling pets is key to not spreading mites from pet to pet.

Ticks

Ticks are blood sucking parasites that are just as bad for your lizard as they are for people. They can pass on quite a number of terrible diseases to your reptile. Depending on what the ticks carry, or if left untreated, they can cause your reptile to die.

Symptoms of ticks on reptiles:

  • Rubbing on objects in their enclosure
  • Long soaks
  • Weight loss
  • Red spots or deformities on their skin

Usually with the above symptoms, especially red spots on their skin people will be suspicious of either ticks or mites. Ticks are a lot easier to see than mites are and with a close inspection of your reptile you should be able to spot them pretty easily.

The treatment is fairly straightforward and can be done at home, or you can have your vet do it. Once you find a tick attached to your lizard, rub it with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball, then use tweezers to pull the tick off. Using alcohol first should help the tick release their grip and make them easier to pull off. If you are at all worried about diseases your reptile might have gotten from the ticks you can have your vet take a look and they may prescribe medication based on what they find.

Grooming and Care

The substrate should be cleaned regularly. If you are using newspaper as substrate, change it twice a week. Other substrates should be spot cleaned every day and replaced completely once a month.

Feeding A Long-Tailed Lizard

Long-tailed Lizards love to eat crickets

Long Tailed Lizards need to be fed insects, and crickets should be their primary source of food. Small spiders, waxworms, mealworms or flies are good choices when you want to give them some variety. The insects should be gut-loaded before being fed to your Long-Tailed Lizard. Gut loading involves giving nutritious food to the feeder insects. When you feed these insects to your lizard, the nutrition passes on to them.

Adult lizards should be fed every other day while baby lizards should be fed every day.

Vitamin and calcium supplements should be added to their food once a week. The supplements come in powder form and can be dusted on their food before feeding your lizard.

Related Questions:

What are the Common Names of Long-Tailed Lizards?

They are also called Grass Lizards or Long-Tailed Grass Lizards.