Added 4 June 2006.

Lizards of Europe: Darevskia, Rock Lizards


The genus Darevskia is a relatively new one, having been established within the last ten years or so. Most if not all of its species were formerly considered members of the Lacerta genus, and indeed are still by some authorities. I am as yet uncertain as to the characteristics that led to the creation of this genus from the genus Lacerta, but it seems to be based on lizards from Asia Minor (including Turkey) and the Caucasus and to contain a fair number of parthenogenetic (females-only) species. There seems to be a dearth of information on the species listed here, whether on the Net or in print: only Englemann et al mention some of them (including them under the genus Lacerta). The website contains some excellent photographs.

In all honesty most UK travellers at least are unlikely to come across most of these lizards, as they are at home in mountainous regions in NE and E Turkey, Russia and the Caucasus. Indeed this remoteness may be one reason why so many of these species only have females, as asexual reproduction does not require the hunt (or wait) for a mate. This page is included mainly for completeness. Travellers to the Black Sea coast in Romania and Bulgaria might nevertheless come across D. praticola, the Meadow Lizard. For a full listing of the Darevskia lizards, click here.

D. alpina, Alpine Rock Lizard D. armeniaca, Armenian Rock Lizard D. bendimahiensis,
D. brauneri, Brown's Rock Lizard D. caucasica, Caucasian Rock Lizard D. clarkorum, Clark's Rock Lizard
D. daghestanica, Daghestan Rock Lizard D. derjugini D. lindholmi, Lindholm's Rock Lizard
D. mixta D. parvula, Small Dwarf Lizard D. portschinskii, Portschinsky's Rock Lizard
D. praticola, Meadow Lizard D. raddei, Azeri Rock Lizard D. rudis, Keel-Tailed Rock Lizard
D. sapphirina, Blue Rock Lizard D. saxicola, Rock Lizard D. unisexualis, White-Bellied Lizard
D. uzzelli D. valentini, Valentine's Rock Lizard  

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
D. alpina Alpine Lizard S Russia (NW Caucasus) 7½-9?" ? B I
D. armeniaca Armenian Lizard NW & N Armenia, S Georgia (Little Caucasus), NE Turkey, W Azerbaijan, NW Turkey: N Ukraine (introduced) 8" Parthenogenetic. B I
D. bendimahiensis ? (Rock) Lizard E Turkey (NE of Lake Van) 8-9?" Parthenogenetic. B I
D. brauneri Braun's Rock Lizard Turkey, W Georgia, S Ukraine (mtn regions in the Crimean Peninsula), S Russia (inc. W & C Caucasus, NW Precaucasus, NE Black Sea coast between Anapa and Novorossisk) 9?" Until recently considered a subspecies of D. saxicola: see EMBL database entry for details. B I
D. caucasica ? Lizard S Russia, Georgia, NE Azerbaijan, SE Chechen Republic 7½" ?. B I
D. c. caucasica C & S Caucasus Mts. in Russia, Georgia and NE Azerbaijan ?. B I
D. c. vedenica SE Chechen Republic, poss. Daghestan ?. B I
D. clarkorum Clark's Caucasian Rock Lizard Black Sea coastal regions (SW Georgian, NE Turkey) 7½" ?. B I
D. daghestanica Daghestan Rock Lizard S Russia (NE Precaucasus, Dagestan), N Georgia 7½-9?" ?. B I
D. derjugini ? Rock Lizard W/NE Georgia (Little Caucasus, Sukhumi region, Valleys of the rivers Kodori, Inguri in the SW Caucasus Mts., central south-slope of the Caucasus Mts.) and adjacent NE Turkey, S Georgian Black Sea coast and NE coastal regions of Turkey, Western south-slope of the Caucasus Mts. in Russia and Georgia, S Russia (NW slope of the Caucasus Mts., Krasnodar Kray), NW Azerbaijan 5½-6"/
?. B I
D. d. abchasica
D. d. barani
D. d. boehmi
D. d. derjugini
D. d. orlowae
D. d. silvatica
D. lindholmi Lindholm's Rock Lizard S Ukraine (mountain regions in the Crimean Peninsula) 8-9?" ?. B I
D. mixta Azeri Rock Lizard SW Georgia (Little Caucasus), Turkey 7½-9?" Species only established in 1999: see EMBL database entry for details. Scalation details (from Englemann et al): lightly serrated collar, 2 large temporal scales behind maseterica. B I
D. parvula Small Dwarf Lizard SW & W Georgia (Little Caucasus, S coast of Black Sea) and adj. NE Turkey 6-7½" ?. B I
D. p. adjarica
D. p. parvula
D. portschinskii Dwarf Rock Lizard E Georgia, SE Georgia, Armenia, S Azerbaijan 6" ?. B I
D. p. nigrita
D. p. portschinskii
D. praticola See Lacerta praticola.
D. raddei Azeri Rock Lizard Armenia, S Azerbaijan, NW Iran, W Armenia, S Georgia (E Small Caucasus), NE Turkey (Kars region, E of Lake Van) 8-8¼" ?. B I
D. r. nairensis
D. r. raddei
D. r. vanensis
D. rudis Keel-Tailed Rock Lizard Turkey (Trabzon region, Uludag), SE Black Sea coast in Georgia and Turkey, Russia (northern slope of the central Caucasus, Dagestan), S/W Georgia (southern slope of the central Caucasus, upper Kura valley, Small Caucasus, southern slope of the central Caucasus, west of L. r. chechenica) and adjacent Turkey, NW Azerbaijan 10?" ?. B I
D. r. bischoffi
D. r. bithynica
D. r. chechenica
D. r. macromaculata
D. r. obscura
D. r. rudis
D. r. svanetica
D. r. tristis
D. sapphirina Blue Rock Lizard E Turkey (N of Lake Van) 8-9?" Parthenogenetic species.
D. saxicola Rock Lizard S Russia (NW & C Caucasus, NW Precaucasus, NE Black Sea coast, W Georgia, S Ukraine (mountain regions in the Krim Peninsula) 9" ?. B I
D. unisexualis White-Bellied Lizard Armenia (mtns and Sevan Basin), NE Turkey, S Georgia 8" Parthenogenetic species. B I
D. uzzelli ? Lizard NE Turkey (Kars Plateau) and adj. Armenia 4¼" Parthenogenetic species. B I
D. valentini Valentine's Rock Lizard S/W Armenia, NE/E/SE Turkey (Kars-Plateau, Cilo-Sat Mts. at the Vilayet HakkÅri), SW Georgia 8-9" B I
D. v. lantzicyreni  
D. v. spitzenbergerae  
D. v. valentini  


Collins Field Guide: Reptiles & Amphibians of Europe, Arnold, Burton & Ovenden, Collins 1978, revised edition 2002/4.

Lurche und Kriechtiere Europas [Amphibians and Reptiles of Europe], Dr Wolf-Eberhard Engelmann, Jürgen Fritzsche, Dr sc. Rainer Günther and Dipl.Biol. Fritz Jürgen Obst, Ferdinand Enke Verlag, Stuttgart 1986. A German-language equivalent but with a rather wider definition of Europe which includes the Transcaucasus, and useful details on the distribution of subspecies. Now apparently out of print.

Echsen [Lizards] 2, Manfred Rogner, Ulmer, Stuttgart 1994. Does not list all Lacerta species but gives useful details on those selected, including husbandry of captives.

Reptiles and Amphibians of Europe, Walter Hellmich, Blandford Press, London 1962. Taxonomy is rather outdated but useful on details of appearance, habitat and subspecies.

This Finnish site provides a useful cladistic of the relations between the various Darevskia species.

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