The following notes are based on how we have been successfully keeping and breeding our own Casqueheads.
L. longipes are diurnal meaning they are active during the day. They are a very agile arboreal species so need plenty of space and décor to climb, and their long back legs make them very good at jumping, especially when young. We keep ours in large glass Exoterra type terrariums (minimum L90cm x W45cm x H60cm for 1 or 2 adults), and we usually replace the mesh lids with custom made wooden lids as this makes it much easier to fit the internal pipework for the fogger and rain maker systems. Large wooden vivariums can also be used if suitably protected from the high humidities required.
The base of the vivariums get about 6cm of moist coco coir type loose substrate that helps maintain humidity levels, and a thermostatically controlled heat cable runs below the vivariums to control the substrate temperature and moisture content, important when breeding. Being an arboreal species means that height is important and a varied selection of vines, leaves and branches need to be provided where they can climb and perch with their long tails hanging down. In fact they will seldom be seen at ground level unless chasing food or laying eggs.
L. longipes like a high basking temperature, from above, of at least 35°c – 37°c (95°f – 98°f) and we provide this by using ceramic heat bulbs in reflector domes which run 24/7 on digital thermostatic controllers. Even at these high basking temperatures ours will sometimes be seen right under the heat source so a protective mesh or cage is recommended. The cool end of the vivariums are kept at around 26°c - 28°c (78°f – 82°f). If the temperatures gets too low (into the low 20's c or below) it clearly shows as their bright green colours change to a dull brown, at which point they will no longer be eating or digesting food properly. However they do soon recover when the correct temperature range is restored.
A relatively high humidity level is absolutely essential, and ideally needs to be kept between 70% and 90%. L. longipes can dehydrate very quickly if the humidity is allowed to drop too low for any extended period of time, and if not corrected this can prove fatal. They are ‘dew lappers’ meaning they drink the water droplets that collect on plant leaves and other items of décor so we use a combination of foggers which are ideal for maintaining the general air humidity supplemented with rain makers set into the hoods which provide drinking water, all of which are automated. Because we live in a hard water area we always use water that has been boiled and left to stand for several days to remove chemical additives.
Even in an automated setup it can be beneficial to give an occasional spray from a water bottle. We have found that, if offered, our L. longipes will often drink the drips from the end of a spray bottle nozzle, and they have been observed occasionally drinking from a shallow water dish placed on the floor of the vivarium. We always install at least 2 good quality hygrometers inside the vivariums and keep a spray bottle to hand as a standby.
We aim for the air to be warm and humid but not stifling, the substrate to be damp but not soaking, and water droplets to be visible on leaves and décor when sprayed. All this means it can take a bit of experimentation when setting up the vivariums, but it is worth the time and effort as once the balance is right they become a very easy reptile to keep. Regular raking of the substrate helps by keeping it aerated and clean.
As they are a diurnal species they do require a source of UV light which we provide by a 10% tube fitted into the vivarium hoods in custom made reflectors running for 12hr a day on electronic timers. We do not brumate our L. longipes as they have never shown any behaviours that would indicate they want to, and we have been unable to find any information indicating that it is a requirement of this species. This is something that we are monitoring, so may change in the future.
L. longipes are insectivores and need to be fed a variety of small sized live insects which they will hunt down by stealth. We feed ours a mixture of Silent Brown Crickets (not black crickets as we find them too aggressive), Locusts and Mealworms, supplemented by occasional Wax worms. Adults are fed 3 or 4 times a week, and all live food is dusted with proprietary vitamin supplements and calcium. Ours can be hand fed, but this needs to be done with care as they tend to snatch and can give an accidental finger nip so using tweezers is recommended. They are not voracious feeders, but we have seen ours leap across the length of the vivarium and catch a rogue fly in mid flight, so they can be quick if something catches their eye.
It is worth remembering that although L. longipes do not require any vegetation in their diet, any live food left in the vivariums will. It is not always practical or possible to catch uneaten live food at the end of the day and Crickets in particular may start eating parts of the décor if they cannot find food, which is not good when they in turn get eaten. For this reason when feeding we always include a small amount of vegetable matter to ensure any live food left in the vivarium remains healthily gut loaded.
One advantage of L. longipes is that provided the accommodation is large enough several can be housed together in a small group. We do and have not witnessed any kind of social hierarchy between them or bullying of smaller weaker specimens, and they have never shown any signs of aggression towards each other. In fact as adults they generally seem to ignore each other during the day, but will often be seen huddled together at night when the lights go out. It would appear therefore that L. longipes is quite a socially gregarious species, although it is worth noting that all our adults are females. Unfortunately we cannot confirm if this behaviour is consistent with the larger sub species L. serratus.
We have found L. longipes' general temperament to be quite calm and inquisitive as long as they are not taken by surprise, and they will accept gentle handling. When handling we find it is best to just hold them securely around the body but ensure all four feet are supported. If they do not feel comfortable or secure they will struggle, but they have rarely shown any aggression when handled. Because they do not drop their tails, very gentle grasping of the tail is often the easiest way to catch them quickly in an emergency.
LAEMANCTUS LONGIPES IN SUMMARY
- Originate from tropical rain forests of Central America (South Eastern Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Yucatan Peninsula).
- They grow to around 12cm nose to vent, or up to 55cm including long slender tail, and weigh around 100g.
- Colouring is bright green with brown stripes down back and flanks underlined with a broken white stripe, and a brown head cap.
- Ideally housing should be at least L90cm x W45cm x H60cm and resistant to humidity.
- They are arboreal so need plenty of climbing decor in their vivarium.
- They need a basking temperature of around 35°c - 37°c (95°f - 98°f), from above, and a 10% UV light source.
- Humidity needs to be maintained above 70% with regular spraying and misting.
- They are insectivores so should be fed a mix of the usual locusts, crickets, mealworms etc. dusted with proprietary vitamins and calcium.
- They are Diurnal so are active during the day.
- They can be kept in a small group IF the housing is large enough.
- They can be tamed and will tolerate some handling as they get older.
- They are very active and good jumpers, especially when young.
- Life expectancy in captivity is around 10 to 12 years.
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