What to Know About Jeweled Lacertas

Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on November 19, 2022

Reptiles make for very engaging pets. With their exotic colors and interesting behavior, they can be a lot of fun to observe. They can also live comfortably in moderately sized spaces, so they are good pets for people who live in apartments.

Jeweled lacertas are eye-catching lizards with green skin and blue eyes. They aren’t the friendliest pet, but they are active, and watching them track and eat live insects is fascinating. They are quiet and relatively easy to care for as pets. They live for a very long time, however, so keeping one is a long-term commitment for a pet owner. 

Learn more about jeweled lacertas and how to keep them properly as pets.

The jeweled lacerta, also called an ocellated lizard, is a brightly colored reptile. They are known for their bright blue eyes and green skin. The typical jeweled lacerta ranges in size between 1 and 2 feet long, with their tails making up most of their body length.

Lacertas are green, with a dark pattern that looks like rosettes along their backs. They have bright, reflective, blue spots on their sides and backs as well. Males tend to be more vividly colored than females. 

They are native to Spain and Portugal, though they can also be found in France, Italy, and some Mediterranean islands.

Jeweled lacertas like open, dry landscapes. They are often found in meadows, scrubland, woodland, arable areas, and sandy sites. They can also be spotted in vineyards and olive groves. They sometimes shelter in brushy areas, rabbit burrows, or gaps in stone walls. They are burrowing reptiles, so they dig shelters for themselves under the ground.

Jeweled lacertas are considered a near-threatened species. Their numbers have declined due to habitat loss.

Jeweled lacertas are not poisonous or venomous. They don’t produce any toxins that can harm humans or other animals. They are also small and light, with small teeth and claws, so they are unlikely to cause serious injuries. 

Lacertas are skittish and don’t welcome interactions with people. They don’t like to be handled much, though captive-bred lacertas are less skittish than those caught in the wild. They are highly food motivated and tend to be more accepting of humans if they know they are getting fed.

Jeweled lacertas can be kept as pets, but they need appropriate care. Keeping reptiles requires giving them enough space, the right type of habitat, and the right temperature. Jeweled lacertas are happiest living alone. They can be aggressive with other lacertas, and they don’t like to share food. It's not wise to keep more than one lacerta in the same enclosure. 

Lacertas need enough space to be comfortable. A 48-inch long terrarium or glass enclosure is best for these long creatures. It should be at least 12 inches deep to allow enough space for a deep substrate where they can burrow. 

Give lacertas at least six inches of substrate bedding. Mulch, potting soil, or sand is a good choice. It needs to be loose enough that the lizard can dig in it and create a burrow for themselves. Keep the substrate damp, so burrows don’t collapse. 

You can arrange branches, small logs, and stones around the enclosure. This offers the lacerta opportunities to climb and hide under objects. They enjoy close spaces for hiding, so a small box or hollow log will be a welcome addition to the enclosure. 

Like all reptiles, jeweled lacertas are cold-blooded. They cannot regulate their own body temperature, so you will need to keep the temperature in the enclosure warm enough for them. You can use heat lamps or under-tank heating elements for this. Be sure to place heating devices away from where the lizard can touch them, to avoid burns. 

The temperature in their enclosure should mimic the climate in their natural habitat, which is warm and dry. This means lacertas need a daytime temperature between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, you should not let their enclosure temperature dip below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Create a warm basking spot by placing a flat stone or log under the heat lamp, but not high enough for the lacerta to touch the lamp. 

In addition to heat, jeweled lacertas need full-spectrum light similar to sunlight in order to maintain their skin color. If they don’t get enough full-spectrum light, their colors will fade. You can place a full-spectrum light in their enclosure to provide the right lighting for them. Lacertas who spend significant time outside may not need full-spectrum light indoors. 

Maintain 50 to 60% humidity in the lacerta’s enclosure. Keeping the bedding damp should be enough to maintain proper humidity. You can also use an automated mister to keep up the correct humidity levels.

In the wild, the jeweled lacerta diet consists of a wide variety of foods. They are omnivores that eat both plants and smaller creatures. They will also eat large insects, like beetles and snails, or even take eggs from birds’ nests. Occasionally they will catch and eat other reptiles, frogs, or small mammals. Lacertas will also eat fruit and plants.

If you are keeping jeweled lacertas as pets, you should provide them with a variety of food similar to their diet in the wild. You can feed them worms, darkling beetles, mealworms, crickets, hornworms, silkworms, and snails. You can also cut up fruits such as strawberries, peaches, mangoes, bananas, pears, or apples for your pet. Lacertas should be fed daily. Keep offering food until they naturally lose interest in eating. Remove any uneaten food from their enclosure, especially live insects. 

With proper care, a jeweled lacerta's lifespan can be up to 20 years in captivity, so bringing one into your home is a long-term commitment. 

If you are considering adding a jeweled lacerta to your family, talk to a vet that specializes in exotic animals. They can tell you what you will need to properly care for a jeweled lacerta.

Show Sources

Natusfera: “Ocellated lizards.”
Observation . Org: “Ocellated Lizard.”
Snake Tracks: “Jeweled Lacerta (Ocellated Lizard).”

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