Western Green Lizard Care Sheet


Introduction

The western green lizard, known by the Latin name Lacerta bilineata, is one of Europes wall lizard species. They inhabit France, Italy, northern Spain, west Germany and many other western parts of Europe. They typically grow to around 30cm long including their tail (which is sometimes 2 times the body length) with a notable, vivid colour of green and in some cases with a piercing blue throat and jaw (typically exibited in the male). They are a medium sized reptile, yet large for their genus, weighing on average 35g with males being slightly larger in head size. Juveniles tend to be more brown with areas of yellow on the underside of the belly and females usually display dorsal stripes, unlike males.

green lizard, reptile, lizard

A pair of western green lizards basking on a log (top) and a male in his strking finery (bottom).

Feeding

Western green lizards will feed on any commercially available insects, e.g. mealworms, crickets, wax worms, calci-worms, morio worms, roaches, earthworms, as well as the occasional berry. Always feed appropriately sized feeders, basing their size on the width of the lizard’s head.  It is important to gut-load the feeder insects with fruit, vegetables and dandelions as the nutrients from the food will go straight into the lizards. Dusting the feeder insects is also an important step to ensure your lizard maintains healthy levels of vitamins and calcium. We encourage people to establish natural colonies of insects and invertebrates into the enclosure which will ensure your lizards can get an unlimited supply of a varied diet, at no extra cost; a win-win! Before western green lizards go into brumation, it is advised to feed them wax worms or any other type of high-fat insects to help cope with the cooler temperatures in winter.

Housing

Western green lizards are smart animals and therefore they will really appreciate a vivarium with plenty of space to explore, dig and bask. We recommend a vivarium of size 2m x 0.6m for a pair or small group. The enclosure should also have 50-60cm of soil for the lizard to burrow down and hibernate. A variety of plant species, such as heather, heaths grasses, gorse and a small shrub will help fill out the enclosure. Stones and logs will help create a more natural, realistic environment for green lizards to enjoy. This also makes for great habitats for insects such as ants, spiders and woodlouse: it’s your own micro-biome! Remember, the larger the enclosure, the happier the animal, so don’t hesitate to make a larger enclosure! At Celtic Reptile & Amphibian we house all of our animals outdoors in greenhouse type vivaria, as this allows vital exposure to the sun and thus, the absorption of UVB light. This also means that no external heating supply or UVB bulb is required. This ensures the animals live the most naturalistic and healthy life possible which can be seen from the stunning colours of our animals! In terms of temperature and humidity, western green lizards hail from continental climates across Europe meaning they can withstand temperatures as low as 10 C (under this, they will brumate) and as high as 40 C , with a happy medium of around 30 C. This species loves to bask and so basking temperatures may need to be higher than the rest of the enclosure, however you can achieve this by ensuring your enclosure is on the south facing wall with no sunlight obstruction.

Habitat of the western green lizard: within a forest (top), Gascony, France and along a country lane in Vendee, France.

Breeding

Mating occurs within the spring months, and consists of the male biting the base of the females tail and proceeding to intertwine tails. This kind of courtship/mating is not too dissimilar to other lacertids. After a successful pairing, the female will become extremely fat, usually 1 to 2 months later with the outlines of eggs being visible. During this period, the female will actively look for ideal places to lay her eggs, and may notably disrupt some soil or sand in the enclosure. It is advised to keep an eye on the disrupted areas as the female may lay her clutch of 6 -18 eggs there. The eggs can be collected and artificially incubated to maximise the yield of healthy hatchlings.