Ocellated Lizard

Timon lepidus (DAUDIN, 1802)


German: Perleidechse



Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus)Timon lepidus is the largest European lizard. This species can reach a body length of up to 80 cm and a weight of more than 500 gr. Some sources even mention a total length of 90 cm (ENGELMANN et al. 1985). 2/3 of the length is made up by the tail. The basic color is gray-green with turquoise and black scales on the back. The sides of the body are graced with several rows of blue to turquoise spots. The young animals are yellowish brown to green with black rimmed white spots on their back.
Breeding in captivity was successful many times. While these lizards are very shy in nature and have a flight distance of 6-10 m, in captivity they get used to the keeper and eat out of his hands. Even in Germany, it is possible to keep the Ocellated Lizard outdoors for several months.
Habitat of the Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus)The Ocellated Lizard prefers rocky habitats near walls, scrub-rich sites on roadsides, sparse bushland, old vineyards and olive groves. In Portugal for example, these lizards can be found in a height of up to 1000 m above sea level (MALKMUS 2002), and in Spain they have already been sighted in a height of over 2000 m above sea level. Timon lepidus occasionally climbs on trees (HOFER).

Socialization with the Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii) seems possible (ZAUNER 2002). Even a peaceful coexistence with Scheltopusiks and Uromastyx species was reported (RUTSCHKE 1989). Aggressive behavior towards other lizards is probably due to different factors. This could include similar body shape, size and color.

Timon lepidus can reach an age of at least 12 years.

Female Timon lepidus nevadensisSexual differences

Males are much larger than females and strongly built. Especially the skull is extremely massive, compared to the one of the females. Males have conspicuous femoral pores (femur = thigh) and are more intensely colored in particular regarding the green tint.


Timon lepidus ibericus (LÒPEZ-SEOANE, 1884)
Timon lepidus lepidus (DAUDIN, 1802)
Timon lepidus nevadensis (BUCHHOLZ, 1963)
Timon lepidus oteroi (CASTROVIEJO & MATEO, 1998)


Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus)Timon lepidus lepidus: Mediterranean coast of France, Spain (up to 2100 m above sea level), Portugal [e.g. Sierra de Sintra in the village Musifar in the "Parque de Monserrate" (LANTERMANN 2005)] and Italy (the Alps and Pyrenees up to 1000 m above sea level).

Timon lepidus nevadensis: Southeast of Spain: Alicante, Murcia, Almeria and Granada.

Timon lepidus ibericus: North-west Spain and north-west Portugal.

Timon lepidus oteroi: Sálvora Island in Spain.

Husbandry in the terrarium



Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus)BANIA (2002) recommends a terrarium size of 180 x 60 x 80 cm for a couple. ZAUNER (2002) mentions a terrarium with a size of 200 x 100 x 150 cm for a couple. HAHN & FENSKE (1994) speak about 160 x 60 x 50 cm. Sizes of 130 x 40 x 45 cm as mentioned by RUTSCHKE (1989) seem be too small regarding the floor space for an adult couple; for small animals, however, they appear quite acceptable. Additionally, RUTSCHKE offers an outdoor enclosure with a floor area of 1 m².


Male Timon lepidus nevadensisThe terrarium should be illuminated with fluorescent tubes and basking spots. Every 2-3 days, the lizards should be irradiated with an Osram Ultra Vitalux Bulb for 10-15 minutes (BANIA 2002). ZAUNER (2002) speaks about two 18 W neon tubes (Osram Biolux), a 100 W spot lamp and a 150 W halogen headlight for the above mentioned terrarium. HAHN & FENSKE (1994) light their terrarium with a 60 W basking spot and two fluorescent tubes of the light color 11. RUTSCHKE (1989) speaks about a bulb of 60-100 W and an UVA fluorescent lamp (TL H 09 N, Philips) which was installed at a distance of 30-50 cm above the ground of the terrarium. In addition, twice a week, a 3-minute irradiation with a sun lamp (Hanau) was performed from a distance of 1 meter. According to RUTSCHKE, supply with UV light of the parents seems to be indispensable for breeding healthy offspring. He repeatedly observed that, if the parents were not adequately supplied with UV light, rachitic young animals hatched. A sole substitution of minerals does not seem to have such a high priority.


Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus)25-30 °C. Locally, basking spots of 35 °C should be offered. By targeted illumination, ZAUNER (2002) divided the terrarium into a warmer part with temperatures between 30 and 45 °C and a cooler part with temperatures between 20 and 25° C. For the night, he mentions temperatures of about 18 °C.


50-70%. The terrarium should be sprinkled at least once per day. RUTSCHKE (1989) reports on spraying with water at room temperature in the morning.


Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus)To mimic a steppe-like landscape, choose a soil of a clay-sand mixture with a layer thickness of 5-15 cm. ZAUNER (2002) mentions washed aquarium sand as substrate. HAHN & FENSKE (1994) recommend against using fine quartz sand because of the dust which settles in the nostrils, causing constant sneezing. They recommend using river sand. RUTSCHKE (1989) mentions Sahara sand as optimal substrate. For decoration, you can use branches and stones. Cork tubes are used as a hideout. A bowl of fresh water should not miss. Since Ocellated Lizards are good climbers, you should take account of climbing opportunities. In the breeding season, the females must be offered suitable egg-laying vessels. ZAUNER (2002) uses plant bowls with a size of 40 x 20 x 15 cm filled with a damp potting compost-peat mixture that are placed in a shady place with a prevailing temperature of 25 °C and surface humidity of 80%. As an alternative, he offers a ceramic dish with a diameter of 19 cm filled with moist sand to a depth of 9 cm next to the basking area. The substrate is covered with a slate. Above the substrate, temperatures of 30 °C and a humidity of 70% prevail. He reports that his females always decided in favor of the last alternative.


Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus) with preyBANIA (2002) recommends a feeding ratio of 75% animal diet to 25% fruits. Feeding should be performed 2-3 times a week. Possible food: applesauce, apricots, bananas, eggs, strawberries, poultry meat, crickets, locusts, honey, yogurt, cherries, jam, mice, moths, rats (nest young), earthworms, wax worms, snails and grapes. RUTSCHKE (1989) also mentions canned dog food that I would not recommend as the basis food.
The feed must be regularly dusted with a vitamin and calcium preparation. LANGERWERF (2001) points out that otherwise the animals easily suffer from bone diseases. Every two days, ZAUNER (2002) administers a mixture of 4 g calcium lactate per liter of drinking water, 4 ml AMYNIN® and 1 ml of a vitamin D3 preparation. In addition, each time the feed is dusted with ZVT® and the lizards are offered fragments of cuttlebone. ZAUNER observed that his lizards were eating stones with a diameter up to 1 cm in order to eliminate it again with the feces. Presumably, this measure helps with the digestion.


Juvenile Timon lepidus nevadensisIn nature, the Ocellated Lizard goes dormant for 3-4 months. This period starts from around October and lasts until March/April. During this period, the temperature is at 4-7 °C. The soil in the winter container should be high enough to enable burying. BANIA (2002) mentions that her lizards rest for a period of one month and mate immediately afterwards. ZAUNER (2002) reports on a resting period of 2 months at temperatures of about 15 °C and switched-off lights. HAHN & FENSKE (1994) talk about a resting period of 4 months at 6-12 °C. Therefore, they transfer the reptiles into a tub, which is half-filled with a mixture of river sand and forest soil. The container is then darkened with a blanket. The substrate is held slightly damp by weekly spraying. RUTSCHKE (1989) reports on winter dormancy of 2-3 months for adult animals and of 6 weeks for semi-adults at a temperature of 6-11 °C. As a dormancy box he uses an old aquarium with a gauze lid filled with a 20 cm high layer of potting soil, moss and pieces of bark. He also keeps the substrate moist by weekly spraying.
In nature, the mating season starts from April to May. In captivity, ZAUNER (2002) observed pairings in mid-March, which lasted 5-9 minutes. HAHN & FENSKE (1994) report over a similarly long copulation while RUTSCHKE (1989) mentions up to 30 minutes. Almost exactly one month afterwards, the eggs are laid. At this time, RUTSCHKE (1989) offers a wooden box with dimensions of 20 x 15 x 10 cm filled with a mixture of damp sand and peat. The lid of the box is closed except for a gap of 5 cm width. A week before the actual egg laying, the females try to find the best place for egg deposition by test drillings. Around the same time, they refuse feed and can behave noticeable aggressive towards conspecifics. The eggs are mostly laid in the morning hours. RUTSCHKE (1989) reports that the eggs are guarded up to six days. A female can produce up to four clutches of 8-20 eggs every year. The eggs mostly stick together in a lump. BRUINS speaks about up to 3 clutches a year. LANGERWERF (2001) mentions that animals in the Netherlands have only two clutches a year and animals in Alabama can lay up to 4 clutches each year. RUTSCHKE (1989) also reports on 4 clutches per year. HAHN & FENSKE (1994) presume that the clutch size depends on the size and age of the females. While young animals lay 6-8 eggs, adult animals can produce up to 23 eggs. RUTSCHKE (1989) determined an average egg size of 16.5 x 22 mm if healthy young animals hatched. Eggs from which rachitic youngs hatched had an average size of 22 x 32 mm. Different materials are mentioned as incubation-substrate. ZAUNER (2002) speaks of vermiculite; RUTSCHKE (1989) prefers a peat-sand mixture or Sahara sand.

Incubation temp.

Incubation period


Clutch size


28-31 °C

67-86 days




23-30 °C

80-90 days



BANIA (2002)

28-30 °C (with setback to 24-25 °C)

85-120 days




27 °C

10 weeks



ZAUNER (2002)

29-31 °C





30 °C










Table: Incubation data found in the literature

Juvenile Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus)Raising of the about 12 cm long young animals with a weight of 2.5 g is not problematic if they are regularly supplied with vitamins and minerals. RUTSCHKE (1989) reports that 5-20 animals can also be raised together without any major problems even beyond the maturity. Every 2 days they are irradiated with UV light (e.g. Osram Ultra-Vitalux). The young have a different color than the adults. They have a brown base color with black rimmed circular spots on the body. After 3 months, the lizards reach an average size of 250 mm (RUTSCHKE 1989). In 10 months they can reach a total length of up to 45 cm (ZAUNER 2002). RUTSCHKE (1989) reported that a male can reach 60.5 cm of total length with a SVL of 19 cm after four years. Sexual maturity is reached by 3-4 years (BANIA 2002). BRUINS indicates the time of maturity in males with two years. LANGERWERF (2001) also mentions 1-2 years. HAHN & FENSKE (1994) and RUTSCHKE (1989) observed first pairings at the age of one year.


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