Southern Long-Tailed Lizard
Painted Long-Tailed Lizard
Red lacertas are relatively large lacertids, reaching a total length of up to 16 inches (40 centimeters) long. They are essentially smooth scaled, and as the name implies exhibit a predominantly red hue, with noticeable lateral stripes of alternating yellowish-beige and brown-black. Their overall coloration varies a great deal throughout their range, ranging from earth tones to individuals appearing almost uniformly brick-red. It is quite likely that as more research is conducted many of these variations will be recognized as distinct subspecies (and some already have been). Red lacertas are diurnal and are active foragers, moving along the ground and underbrush with stuttered movement looking for prey. Although their longevity is not known, they can live at least five years in captivity.
Red lacertas are widely distributed and common throughout much of the Northern part of Africa; including Senegal, Mali, Sudan, Egypt (including the Sinai Peninsula), Ethiopia, Northern Somalia, Yemen, Southern Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Northern Tanzania, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Zaire. Within this range it inhabits a wide range of terrain, but forages mostly within vegetation cover. They can be found in well vegetated sandy or gravelly plains, wadis and scrub habitat.
Red lacertas, as relatively large, mostly terrestrial lizards, benefit from an enclosure that is horizontally oriented and at least 2-feet (60 centimeters) in length. Being diurnal, they require 8-10 hours of UV lighting and benefit from a basking spot that provides them with a focused area of 90 degrees Fahrenheit surface temperature. Ambient temperatures should be in the 75-85 degree range. Naturally, red lacertas are accustomed to open spaces with sparse ground cover. In a captive setting, this can be replicated through the use of a sandy, loamy or gravelly substrate with a few well placed hiding spots. Hiding spots can be live or fake vegetation, wood hollows, small caves or the like. Hide spots should be evenly distributed throughout the enclosure, and should not be placed directly under the basking light, unless the lacertas can utilize the top of the hide spot as a basking location (e.g. a hollowed out log). Red lacertas are not accustomed to readily available water, nor are they adapted for high humidity levels (although they are quite adaptable). Water should be offered in a shallow water dish every 2-3 days. If the water dish is kept in the enclosure at all times, care should be taken that the lacertas do not spill it and create a perpetually damp substrate.
Red lacertas are active foragers and eat a wide variety of insects and occasionally some types of flowers. In captivity they feed readily on arthropods (crickets, roaches, spiders, small crustaceans, etc.), superworms, wax worms, phoenix worms, flies, moths, and annelids. As with all herps, red lacertas benefit from a varied diet that is dusted with a vitamin and mineral supplement. Red lacertas should be fed several (3-4) times a week. Uneaten prey items should not be left in the enclosure overnight (unless they are confined in a food dish—e.g. phoenix worms).
Red lacertas can be very fast, but generally will calm down over time with consistent, short and gentle handlings. Though red lacertas are not prone to bite, most reptiles will do so when threatened, so care should be taken when handling them.