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Common wall Lizard
Wall lizard in a German vineyard
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Sauria
Family: Lacertidae
Genus: Podarcis
Species: P. muralis
Binomial name
Podarcis muralis
Laurenti, 1768

The common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) is a species of lizard with a large distribution in Europe and well-established introduced populations in North America, where it is also called the European wall lizard. It can grow to about 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in total length.

Contents

Identification

The common wall lizard is a small, thin lizard whose small scales are highly variable in colour and pattern. Its coloration is generally brownish or greyish, and may occasionally be tinged with green. In some individuals the row of spots along their back may form a line, while others may have a reticulated pattern with dark spots on the side and scattered white spots that can be blue in the shoulder region. The tail is brown, grey or rust in colour, and may also have light bars on the sides. The belly region has 6 rows of larger rectangular scales that are generally reddish, pink, or orangish. Common wall lizards may also have dark markings on the throat.

Ecology

The common wall lizard prefers rocky environments, including urban settings where it can scurry between rock, rubble, debris and buildings.

Distribution and status

The natural range spans mainland Europe, including central Spain, southern Belgium, and the Netherlands. It occurs as introduced populations in southern Britain, and also in North America.

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North America

Podarcis muralis
Podarcis muralis

Podarcis muralis has been introduced in the United States of America and is spreading in Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, Ohio. It is commonly observed living in limestone outcrops, rock walls, and rubble along the Ohio River basin and the surrounding seven hills.

It is referred to locally in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area as the "Lazarus lizard", as it was introduced to the area around 1950 by George Rau, a boy who was a member of the family that owned the Lazarus department store chain (now absorbed into Macy's). After he returned from a family vacation to Northern Italy, he released about 10 of the reptiles near his Cincinnati home.[1] This prolific lizard has reproduced exponentially, it continues to expand its distribution range annually, and has established itself so well in Southwest Ohio that it is now considered a native (although introduced) species by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and is protected under State law (it is illegal to harm, capture, or possess this animal without a proper licence.[2]

The European wall lizard was also introduced to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada in 1970 when a dozen individuals were released into the wild from a small private zoo.[3]

References

  1. ^ Deichsel, G. & Gist, D. H. (2001) "On the Origin of the Common Wall Lizards Podarcis muralis (Reptilia: Lacertidae) in Cincinnati, Ohio." Herpetological Review 32: 230-232. Online version, with added photographs.
  2. ^ Pamphlet from Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
  3. ^ Deichsel, G., and Schweiger, S. 2004. "Podarcis muralis (Common Wall Lizard). Canada: British Columbia". Herpetological Review 35: 289–290.

External links

  • [1] Wall lizard as introduced species in UK.

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