By Annette J Beveridge
An arboreal, diurnal species distributed throughout southern and south-eastern Asia, the Asian grass lizard (Takydromus sexlineatus) is a species easily recognised by the length of its tail. This distinctive long tail – approximately three times the length of the lizard’s body might be considered a hindrance but it distributes body weight and balance by making points of contact when climbing through grass stalks. They can easily jump from one stalk to the next.
Asian grass lizard description
The lizard has a pointed snout and small head. The tongue is black or pink. Sometimes, small scales can be seen beneath the chin which resemble a beard. The lizard’s limbs are of a normal size but notice the long and thin digits.
The underbelly is cream but the colour on the back will vary – green – beige. Some have brown stripes. Both male and females look similar but males can be identified through the presence of white spots on the side of the body and the pre-anal pores. The male’s tail is also thicker past the vent.
These lizards are most commonly found in grasslands. Each morning, they bask in the sunlight and are often seen swaying in the tips of grasses. This greater height affords protection from some of the ground predators. Asian grass lizards are not found in the arid areas but prefer habitat where seasonal rain occurs.
At night, they coil around the grass base or hide beneath logs for protection.
If a predator approaches, the Asian grass lizard remains completely still until danger has passed. If under immediate threat, they will quickly flee to safety diving into the deeper foliage. These are agile lizards and incredibly fast. If attacked, they can drop their tail which serves to distract the predator. The fact that these are such distinctive reptiles may go against them as they are often sold as pets. Fortunately, the species is not at risk.