Meet the Wall Lizards
The Wall Lizards, Podarcis muralis, are a frequently seen and popular part of the Undercliff ecology. Research by the University of Oxford using the mitochondria of the animals has discovered that this long standing population originates from Italy. Debate persists as to whether this is the northernmost limit of their natural range or that they represent captive animals that have escaped or introduced and then naturalised.
The VBG lizards are usually heard before they are seen, scuttling through the leaf litter in the Mediterranean Garden. On sunny days they bask in the sunshine or hunt insect prey on the south facing slopes, especially the Arid Garden.
- Adults up to 20 cm in length (including tail).
- Very long tail: 2/3 of overall length.
- Colour is highly variable: generally brown or grey in colour. Green variants also seen.
- Pattern is highly variable: prominent black spots, mottling or stripes.
- Markings: Tail is brown, grey or rust in colour. May also have light bars on the sides. Belly region has six rows of large, rectangular scales that are generally reddish, pink, or orange. May also have dark markings on the throat.
- Head is larger and limbs longer than native Common Lizards.
Non-native species. Found in several areas of England. Native range includes mainland Europe and the Netherlands.
- Active during the day.
- Generally a climbing species.
- Prefers rocky environments such as boulders, rocks and walls.
- Eat insects and other invertebrates.
- Emerges from hibernation in spring and begins breeding.
- Males are highly territorial and may defend an area of up to 25 square metres.
- Females lay between 2-10 eggs.
- Eggs hatch after 6-11 weeks during the summer.
Predators and other threats
The Wall Lizard has a wide range of predators. These include a variety of birds such as Kestrels, snakes, domestic cats, arachnids and a range of mammalian species. Brown rats will also predate upon Wall Lizard eggs.
The Wall Lizard is classified as ‘least concern’ by the IUCN as it has a tolerance to a wide extent of habitats and a wide distribution throughout its native range. It is however protected by legislation throughout much of its native range and is listed under appendix II of the Bern Convention and appendix IV of the European Union Habitats Directive. Within its natural distribution range, the Wall Lizard faces pressure from tourism development of its preferred habitat and loss of habitat through agricultural intensification. The use of pesticides is also harmful, in addition to the introduction of non-native sub species to localized populations.
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