Jeweled lacertas (Timon lepidus) are medium-sized, diurnal, terrestrial lizards native to the Iberian Peninsula of Europe. They typically prefer open areas of dry habitat, ranging from woodland to scrub and meadows.
These lizards are best known for their bright green coloring with a pattern of iridescent blue spots. However, they can be more brown or gray as well. Males are significantly larger than females, with large, blocky heads.
Due to their activity and need for specialized equipment, jeweled lacertas are intermediate-level pet reptiles. With good care, they can live beyond 27 years!
Minimum terrarium size for jeweled lacertas
The minimum size for housing one jeweled lacerta is 48”L x 24”W x 24”H. Jeweled lacertas are primarily terrestrial, so plenty of floor space is the main concern. However, they are skilled at low-level climbing, so vertical space will be used if offered. And of course, if you can provide larger, do it!
Multiple jeweled lacertas should not be housed in one enclosure, as they are not a particularly social species.
Do jeweled lacertas need UVB?
Jeweled lacertas will get sick without UVB as part of their environment. The best UVB bulbs for a jeweled lacerta in a 48” long enclosure are:
The basking area should be 17-18” below the lamp to give your lacerta the right amount of UVB. However, if there is mesh between the lamp and your pet, then the basking area should only be 13-15” below the lamp, because mesh partially blocks UVB rays. For best results, use the Arcadia ProT5 or Vivarium Electronics T5 HO fixture.
UVB is fully blocked by glass and plastic, so you can’t give your lizard UVB by placing its terrarium in front of an open window. UVB lamps decay over time, so you will need to replace the bulb every 12 months.
Best temperature for jeweled lacertas
Jeweled lacertas need a basking temperature of 95°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer, with the probe placed on the basking surface. For best results, use a large, flat stone as the basking surface.
Provide heat for your lacerta with two high-wattage halogen heat lamps placed close together over the basking surface. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, blue bulbs, or heat mats, as these are not very effective for heating reptiles.
Turn off the heat lamps at night.
Best humidity levels for jeweled lacertas
In order to stay adequately hydrated and maintain good scale health, jeweled lacertas prefer a humidity gradient from about 35-75%. The air should be fairly dry, but they also need free access to a humid burrow or hideout. Increase burrow humidity by pouring water into the substrate with a watering can.
Humidity levels should be monitored with at least two digital probe hygrometers, with one of the probes placed inside the main burrow/hide.
Best substrate for jeweled lacertas
Jeweled lacertas need a layer of substrate at least 4” deep so they can dig and burrow, which is a natural behavior for them. The best substrates for jeweled lacertas include:
To keep the substrate clean and your lizard healthy, remove old food and waste every day, along with contaminated substrate. You will need to completely remove and replace your substrate every 3-4 months.
How to decorate a jeweled lacerta terrarium
A barren terrarium is boring to look at and boring for your lacerta. Make the most of your terrarium by adding a variety of enrichment items for your pet to climb and explore. Here are some ideas:
- climbing logs/branches
- live or artificial plants
- rock stacks
- textured background
What to feed to a jeweled lacerta
Jeweled lacertas are primarily insectivorous, which means that they eat mostly insects and other invertebrates. However, they are also known to eat some fruit as a treat. Offer food every morning, as much as they can eat in one day. Juveniles will generally eat more than adults do.
Variety is the key to providing a healthy, balanced diet for your lacerta. The more variety you can provide, the better!
Appropriate fruits include berries, banana, mango, and peaches.
You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to help keep your lacerta healthy. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all feeder insects. It’s okay to occasionally skip a dusting.
Of course, don’t forget a medium water bowl for your lacerta to drink from! Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.
How to handle your jeweled lacerta
Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. Jeweled lacertas can be skittish at first, but with patience, they can be tamed. Some say that they can even become as tame as a bearded dragon! Here are some tips for success:
- Start with tong-feeding.
- Don’t grab the lizard from above. Instead, scoop from below.
- Whenever possible, let the lizard come to you rather than chasing after it.
- Support as much of its body as possible, especially the feet.
- Start with short handling sessions at first, then gradually make them longer.
- Put the lizard back in its enclosure only when it’s calm.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!
Image credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE - Jewelled Lizard (Timon lepidus) male found under a stone by Jean NICOLAS, CC BY-SA 2.0