The herptile blog.

All about the herpetological world.

Urban critters: European wall lizard

Posted by Miqe on January 20, 2008

What it’s called: The European wall lizard, or in Latin, Podarcis muralis.

What it looks like: It’s small. The longest males are only 23 cm from the points of their noses to the tips of their tails, so if the word “lizard” makes you nervous, get over it. And given that their tails are more than twice as long as the rest of their bodies, they’re very streamlined too, like scaly whips with legs — four of them all bent at right angles. Their backs are green or brown with black blotches, while their tummies are a light creamy colour. Males also have bright blue spots that run down their sides.

Where to find it: As its name suggests, it’s native to much of Europe, but back in 1970 a roadside zoo east of Victoria closed and stupidly let their lizards go. That means the European wall lizard is an invasive species in B.C. and therefore a potential threat to the native northwest alligator lizard which is similar and occupies similar habitats. These include rock faces, open woodlands and even man-made structures such as walls, railways and roadsides. So far it’s confined to Greater Victoria, but given how comfortably it’s made itself at home there, that could change.

What it eats: Flying and ground insects such as flies and beetles along with many types of spiders. Wall lizards are tenacious predators and have been seen jumping off the ground to catch insects that fly. When they catch a large one, they bite into it firmly and then thrash their heads back and forth ’till the hapless bug stops moving.

What eats it: Raccoons and various birds of prey are known to eat small lizards, but given that the wall lizard is not native to B.C., there’s no predator that’s evolved specifically to include it in its diet.

How it breeds: They hibernate between November and March, so don’t expect to see any now unless it’s warm. Mating occurs in March, and eggs are laid a month later. If it’s a good year with lots of sun and food, a female may produce two more clutches of eggs before the summer is over.

What to do if you see one: Because the European wall lizard is an invasive species, scientists are trying to keep an eye on how and where it spreads. So if you see one, contact your local environment ministry office.

From The Vancouver Sun

7 Responses to “Urban critters: European wall lizard”

  1. Tom said

    What is very interesting is that a population of Podarcis muralis has become established here in the United States in Cincinnati, Ohio. This is the state of Ohio’s only non-native reptile! They seem to like the limestone outcroppings and walls around older parts of this hilly city. I finally saw one a few years ago while visiting my friend’s apartment on the northwest side of town.


  2. […] European wall lizard, or in Latin, Podarcis muralis: here. […]

  3. Wow! Never really see reptiles in Buffalo. Probably as a result of the cold huh.

  4. Miqe said

    It´s a lovley little species of lizard. Very interesting to watch. Although they really shouldn´t be in the U.S.

    The Podarcis sicula campestris, have been introduced into two locations in the U.S.A., both at about the same latitude as their native range. Observations of the seasonal and diel behavior of one of these, the population in New York, from 1998-2000. The length of the diel period during which lizards were observed to be active varied from no activity during winter to 11 hours / day in July and August.
    For both years a bimodal activity pattern was evident during the warm months, while a unimodal activity pattern was observed in spring and fall. The juveniles appeared to be active during much colder weather than the adult lizards, and the diel cycles of juveniles appeared to be less predictable than that of adults.
    During the spring, summer, and fall observations of the same general pattern of activity as has been reported for an Italian population; however, the average level of activity was much lower in NY in these seasons.
    In NY lizards were not active at all in the winter, while in Italy and in Kansas, U.S.A., lizards were active at least sporadically all months of the year. Suggests that these differences are not due to simple differences in average temperatures between Italy, KS, and NY, but instead to the much lower minimum temperatures in NY.

  5. Jordan said

    I live in Victoria and just came across one of the European wall lizards. Are they like all other lizards you can get at the pet store and keep them in a glass tank

  6. sandy said

    Just found a baby European wall lizard in my dining room. Columbus Ohio. It seemed weak. possibly dehydrated. length between 1 or 2 cm. or the size of a purple grape. I fed it a squashed green pea, 1/2 purple grape, a piece of lettuce and water on clean piece of sponge. It went to the pea first, left the green alone, was seen sitting on the grape. Compared to a Northern Fence lizard markings are quite different. Sometimes called a Lazarus lizard, there is a well established colony in and around Cinncinnati. This is a bit north for this introduced species but since they hibernate Nov. – mar. it should be able to survive our cold winters. they can be found in BC and NY so cols. weather wont be so bad for this little guy. Strange to find it indoors tho. this morning I gave it a dead fruit fly and a tiny piece of Ceasar’s dogfood. Waiting to see what happens. My students want to keep it for the class but I believe it needs to be set free by law so will do that Tues. Its a long weekend and I want to be certain it is strong enough to turn loose.

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