Added 4 June 2006. Last updated 3 September 2006: removed L. vivipara to separate page as Zootoca vivipara and updated introduction.

Lizards of Europe: Lacerta, Green Lizards


Lacerta lizards are among the most spectacular of the European lizards, being often a striking green (with varying patterns) in coloration and among the largest in size. A large green lizard seen in Spain, Central or Southern Europe or Turkey will almost certainly be one of this genus.

The genus Lacerta has the following characteristics: unspecialised body structure; band of enlarged scales around neck: round or slightly compressed fingers and toes which lack fringes of scales; enlarged anal shield in front of cloacal slit. The head tends to be large and powerful

Although good climbers, these lizards tend to be found more on the ground and among dense vegetation.

It should be noted that the taxonomy of the genus Lacerta has seen some upheaval in recent years. In particular some species which were formerly considered Lacerta, in particular the parthenogenetic ones, have been assigned to the genus Darevskia. Lacerta viridis, the Green Lizard, has given rise to two other species in Europe and Asia Minor, while completely new species have been described. Lacerta vivipara, the Common Lizard, is now considered to belong to the genus or subgenus Zootoca vivipara, and similarly Lacerta lepida is now more often treated as Timon lepidus, again a separate genus or subgenus depending on which authority you believe.

The following list excludes those Lacerta which are not found within Europe (here defined as including Turkey) or North Africa (from Morocco to Libya). For a full list, as well as further details, go to the Lacerta listing.

L. agilis, Sand Lizard L. anatolica, Anatolian Rock Lizard L. andreanski, Andreanszky's Rock Lizard
L. aranica, Aran Rock Lizard L. aurelioi, Aurelio's Rock Lizard L. bedriagae, Bedriaga's Wall Lizard
L. bilineata, Western Green Lizard L. bonnali, Pyrenean Rock Lizard L. cappodocica, Cappodocian Rock Lizard
L. cyanisparsa L. danfordi, Danford's Lizard L. dryada
L. graeca, Greek Rock Lizard L. horvathi, Horvath's Rock Lizard L. laevis, Lebanon Lizard
L. lepida, Ocellated/Jewelled Lizard L. media, Eastern Green Lizard L. monticola, Iberian Rock Lizard
L. mosorensis, Mosor Rock Lizard L. oertzeni L. oxycephala, Sharp-Snouted Rock Lizard
L. pamphylica, Pamphylican Rock Lizard L. parva, Dwarf Rock Lizard L. praticola, Meadow Lizard
L. schreiberi, Schreiber's Lizard L. strigata, Caucasian Green Lizard L. trilineata, Balkan Green Lizard
L. viridis, Green Lizard L. vivipara, Common/Viviparous Lizard  

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
L. agilis
Subadult L. agilis courtesy of Chris Davis. Click on the image for the full-sized picture.
Sand Lizard Europe (except Ireland, Scandinavian peninsula and Mediterranean), Transcaucasia, temperate Asia as far as Lake Baikal 8-9" Very widely distributed lacertid across Europe and N. Asia with many subspecies, thanks largely to tolerance of wide range of conditions, although recently it has been threatened by habitat loss and the use of chemicals. Heaths and edges of forests are especially favoured, but Sand Lizards can also be found fairly commonly on sunny railway embankments and the like, and will even take up residence near human habitats. Low altitudes are preferred, but again it will take mountains in its stride and has been found as high as 3,500 m. These lacertids are also extremely territorial, and pairs or individuals will mark out and defend a small area as their own where they will live and breed for years. Hibernation, at least in temperate parts, begins in October and ends in March-April. The waking lizards eat heavily and after two moults assume their colours, upon which they seek a mate. Sexual dichroism (ie colour differentiation) is pronounced: males have green sides with dark ocelli ("eyes") and a brown back, while females have light brown sides instead of green. There are some variations on this basic theme: adult males of L. a. grusinaca in particular are totally green, while the females are green with brown flanks. Females lay 5-15 eggs in early summer: incubation time is comparatively short, just five weeks. Depending on the part of their range, they lay 1 or 2 clutches per year.

For information on the conservation of the Sand Lizard in the UK, please click here. B I

L. a. agilis W & C Europe
L. a. argus C & E Europe
L. a. boemica Daghestan, NE Caucasus
L. a. bosnica Former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria
L. a. brevicaudata C Transcaucasia, Armenian mtns and adj. NE Turkey
L. a. chersonensis E Poland, S Russia W of Dniepr, Rumania, N Bulgaria
L. a. exigua SE & C Russia (Dniepr to Lake Baikal)
L. a. grusinica Black Sea south of Caucasus
L. a. ioriensis R Iori, Georgia
L. anatolica Anatolian Rock Lizard Turkey, Greece ?" ?. B I
L. a. aegaea ? Lizard Turkey (NW Anatolia, W of Aydin) ?" ?.
L. a. anatolica ? Lizard Samos (Greece) ?" ?.
L. andreanski Atlas Dwarf Lizard, Andreanszky's (Rock) Lizard Morocco (W & C High Atlas) 4-6?" Small brown lizard apparently resembling a half-grown Lacerta vivipara. It is at home mainly in mountainous areas, although not inaccessible to man. Within these areas many are found within thorn cushion thickets, which offer several advantages including cover, microclimate, condensation and food sources. Diet consists of small arthropods, including spiders and aphids, and seeds. The mountain climate can be severe in winter and L. andreanski may hibernate from October till March. Main predator is the dwarf viper Vipera monticola. Ventral scale rows: 6 (31-32 transverse rows in females). Anal surrounded by 6-7 preanals. Scalation details: Small 1st & 4th supraocular. Supraciliary granules each side 0-5. Occipital and intraparietal sometimes separated. 5th supralabial touches eye. Nostril between two nasals, close to rostral and 1st supralabial. Collar: 6-10 (usually 9) scales. Throat: 19-22 scales between inframaxillary and collar. Femoral pores: 18-22 on each side. Dorsal scales: smooth, 36-42. Tail scales slighty keeled dorsally. Reproduction: sexual maturity is reached at its earliest at 1½ years, later at higher altitudes due to colder climate. Breeding period lasts from late March/April to June, with three clutches of 1-3 (usually 2) eggs being laid per season. [All details taken from Kästle et al]. B I
L. aranica ? Lizard Spain (C Pyrenees), France 8-9?" Until quite recently considered a subspecies of L. bonnali: now considered by some authorities to belong to the new genus Iberolacerta. It occupies a very small range. Behavioural and reproductive details probably similar to those for L. bonnali and L. monticola. Scalation details: large scale on cheek connects both maseterica and tympanic scale. Coloration: dorsally grey-brown or geyish; often two dorsolateral rows of dark spots on foreparts which are separated from the dark flanks by a lighter area. Ventrally white. [SOURCE: Arnold]. B I
L. aurelioi Aurelio's Rock Lizard Spain (E Pyrenees) SVL 6cm ?. B I
L. bedriagae Bedriaga's Wall Lizard Corsica 8-11" L. bedriagae is found mainly at high altitudes (600 to over 2,000 m.), although in the north of Sardinia it will descend to the coast. Its usual habitats are woodland streams or pools: the lizards lay close to the edge or on overhanging stones and rocks, and will even enter the water itself, being good swimmers. In this they are somewhat akin to L. vivipara. Tails are significant in this species, being half as long again in adults as the body. Juveniles have a bright green-blue tail: as is the case with much lizard coloration, this fades with adulthood. Only the adult males reach a full 11", the normal length being 8". B I
L. b. bedriagae  
L. b. ferrerae N tip of Sardinia (restricted coastal range)
L. b. pressleri Limbara Mts, Sardinia
L. b. sardoa Gennargenta Mts, Sardinia
L. bilineata Western Green Lizard S Switzerland, N Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, San Marino, W Germany (Rivers Rhine and Nahe), Channel islands (UK), USA (Kansas, urban Topeka, introduced) ?" Until quite recently considered part of L. viridis: see EMBL database entry for taxonomic history. B I
L. b. bilineata   ?"
L. b. chloronota Sicily, Calabria ?"
L. b. fejervaryi Campagnia, Apulia (Italy) ?"
L. bonnali ? Lizard Spain (C Pyrenees), France 7-7¼" Until quite recently considered a subspecies of L. monticola: now considered by some authorities to be part of the new genus Iberolacerta instead. L. bonnali is found between 1,968 and 2,900m in the vicinity of lakes and along rocky clifftops. Dorsum is olive-brown or sometimes green, with a faint pattern. The lower surfaces are yellowish-white or greenish. Although there are alternate bands of narrow and wide scales on the tail, the difference is barely perceptible. Scalation: Rostral in extensive contact with internasal. Supranasal contacts loreal. Dorsal scales: vary in form, 40-48 scale rows midbody. Can be distinguished from P. muralis by scalation details and unspotted underside. Reproduction: hibernation lasts from November to March. Otherwise breeding appears to be the same as or very similar to that of L. monticola. 5-8 eggs are laid in July. B I
L. b. aranica Considered a full species by some: see L. aranica.
L. b. bonnali ?.
L. cappodocica Cappodocian Rock Lizard Turkey (Cilician Taurus, E of the Euphrat River, region around Diyarbakir and Viranehir, E Siirtizre, Amanus Mts and surroundings), NE Iraq, NW Iran, W Syria 11" ?. B I
L. c. cappodocica Turkey (Cilician Taurus)
L. c. muhtari E of the Euphrates River and NE Iraq
L. c. schmidtlerorum  
L. c. urmiana E Siirt-Cizre (Turkey), NE Iraq, NW Iran
L. c. wolteri S Turkey, NW Syria
L. cyanisparsa ? Lizard NW Syria, adjacent Turkey ?" Species only established in 1999: see EMBL database entry for details. B I
L. danfordi Danford's Rock Lizard Turkey (Bolkar Dar mountains and C south coast) and some Greek islands 8-10" Colonises suitable habitats from coastal regions to mountain altitudes at nearly 3,000m: prefers stony areas, frequently walls. Colouring and pattern are fairly variable, but as a rule there is a paler area on the dorsum from the back of the head across the entire back: this is enclosed by a darker dorsolateral stripe on each side. On both back and flanks there is an irregular speckling effect. The young are distinguished by striking blue-green tails. Engelmann et al note the similarity in both appearance and ecology to the more westerly Podarcis muralis, the Wall Lizard. B I
L. d. anatolica Asia Minor Now considered a separate species, L. anatolica.
L. d. bileki    
L. d. danfordi Symi  
L. d. oertzeni Icaria and Samos Now considered a separate species, L. oertzeni.
L. d. pelasgiana Rhodes Now considered L. oertzeni pelasgiana.
L. d. pentanisiensis Pentanisos (E of Rhodes)  
L. dryada ? Lizard NE foothills of the Pontic Ridge (NE Turkey and SW Georgia) ?" ?. B I
L. graeca Greek Rock Lizard Peloponnese peninsula 8" Sympatric with but less abundant than the Peloponnese Wall Lizard, found mainly above 400 m. It is a good climber, aided by its long tail which is 2½ times the length of the body. Favoured habitats are areas near water shaded by vegetation: walls, vineyard terraces, roadsides, ditches, and rock faces with shaded fissures. It likes tall vegetation for the shade and will also live in open woods. Colouring is less variable than among many other lacertids: the back is a greyish green with latitudinal rows of short black stripes and spots which in the males are denser. Ventral surfaces in both sexes are a bright yellow with small dark spots. B I
L. horvathi Horvath's Rock Lizard NW Croatia, Slovenia, NE Italy, Austria, S Germany (Karwendal Mts) 6-7" More plainly marked montane lacertid, apparently somewhat similar in appearance to P. muralis muralis, whose distribution range it partly shares (plus that of Lacerta vivipara). The head is fairly blunt and short. L. horvathi is usually found above 500m in moist mountainous areas, in either open beech or conifer forests or above the treeline. It dwells among rocks, including road cuttings, and ambushes insect prey from crevices, sometimes leaping into the air to do so [Arnold et al]. Scalation details: usually 1 postnasal: rostral scale usually contacts frontonasal; 1st supratemporal large, often cuts into parietal; 5 pairs of chin shields. Collar: smooth-edged. Dorsal scales: flattish, unkeeled. Coloration details: dorsally brown, the back being much paler than the sides. Dark vertebral streak or irregular spotting may be present. Throat is white, belly either white or (often) yellow. Reproduction: no details yet available. The young are similar to adults in appearance but often have a greenish-grey tail. B I
L. laevis Syrian Rock Lizard SE Turkey (middle Taurus Mts., Hatay region), NW Syria, Lebanon, Israel, W Jordan, Cyprus 10-11" ?. B I
L. l. laevis
L. l. troodica Cyprus
L. lepida
[Timon lepidus]

Male Lacerta lepida

Female Lacerta lepida
Eyed Lizard/
Ocellated Lizard/
Jewelled Lizard [Sp: Lagarto ocelado]
S. France, Iberia, NW Italy; NW African coast 24-36" The largest of the lacertid family and a deservedly popular terrarium subject. There are three subspecies of the Eyed Lizard. The preferred habitats are shrubbed areas, old vineyards and olive groves and orchard, but it is fairly catholic in its tastes. Interestingly, though, the northern limits of its distribution coincide with those of olive trees. It is also found at various altitudes, including 1,000 m. in the Alps and 2,100 m. in the Pyrenees. Being considerably larger than other lacertids, in addition to the usual invertebrates the Eyed Lizard sometimes also takes young birds, rodents and reptiles, and in summer also eats fallen fruit. It shelters in either abandoned rodent burrows or hollow tree trunks. Hibernation usually commences in October and ends in February-March. Females lay clutches of anything up to 20 or more eggs in April-May: the young, about 6cm, hatch in about 3 months. Adults are easily sexed: the males are normally larger and brighter, with the large blue spots ("eyes", hence the common name) along their sides. Females tend more to a brown colour with the spots much less discernible. Young lacertids are differently coloured from the adults. The heads of both sexes are covered in large scales. Despite their much larger size, Eyed Lizards are just as fast and as agile climbers as the smaller species. Scalation details: 5 supraciliaries separated from supraoculars by a row of 6-10 granules. Large occipital. 7-8 supralabials of which 5th touches eye. Nasal orifice delimited by nasal, rostral, 1st supralabial and 2 postnasals 1 loreal behind the postnasals followed by a frenocular. 2 preoculars in front of the eye. 2 large supratemporals on each side. 6 sublabials and 6 submaxillaries on each side. There is no maseterica and the tympanica is rarely differentiated. Collar: 6-10 (usually 9) scales. Throat: 26-39 scales between mandibular sinfisis and centre of collar. Femoral pores: 11-16 on each side. Dorsal scales: rounded or elliptical on the centre of the dorsum, 63-84. Ventral scale rows: 8-10 rows of trapezoid scales. Reproduction: the breeding season varies according to the location and climate of the individual. In France courtship takes place in April-May, the eggs being laid at the end of May or beginning of June, whereas the season is longer in Alicante, Spain, where gravid females are seen between April and July [Salvador]. Females dig a hole 7-9cm deep with their hind limbs and deposit 5-24 eggs.

For the Eyed Lizard in captivity, please click
here. B I
L. l. lepida    
L. l. iberica    
L. l. nevadensis SE Spain  
L. l. oteroi    
L. media Eastern Green Lizard NE Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, NW Iran, E Turkey (E south coast and adj. regions, E C Anatolia, Hatay, S of Asi Nehri River [Orontes]), N Israel, NW Jordan, NW Syria, Lebanon, S Russia 16" ?. B I
L. m. ciliciensis
L. m. isaurica
L. m. israelica
L. m. media
L. m. wolterstorffi
L. monticola Iberian Rock Lizard [Sp: Lagartija serrana] Iberian peninsula 7-9" Very hardy montane and saxicolous lizard, found mainly in the high mountains, where it lives among crags and outcrops, but also at low or medium altitude on the edges of woods or in clumps of pines or juniper bushes. Unusually for European lizards, these lacertids are usually active during the bad weather frequently found in the mountains, sometimes on sunny days even being seen traversing snow. In summer they tend to be more active before midday, with activity dropping off in the afternoon. They are also somewhat communal in their habits. Colouring and patterning are very variable: however, sexual dichromism is marked, with the females often an overall brown with faint dark dorsal longitudinal stripes. The males are more varied: some have black spots on a green back and bluish sides, and sexually adult males have a belly that can be light green, pink or bright orange. Note that L. m. bonnali is now usually described as a full species: see L. bonnali. Prey consists largely of coleopterans, dipterans and other insects. Scalation details: Rostral may or may not be in contact with internasal. 1 postnasal in contact with internasal. Maseterica and tympanica both present. Collar: 5-13 scales. Throat: 20-28 scales between join with submaxillaries and central scale of collar. Femoral pores: 11-21 on each side. Dorsal scales: somewhat larger than those of the side: flattened or slightly convex, smooth or somewhat keeled. See subspecies below for more details. Ventral scale rows: 23-29 transverse rows in males, 26-33 in females. Tail: usually alternative bands of narrow and wide scales (but see subspecies). Reproduction: hibernation lasts from October to February. The breeding season lasts from April to June, during which time the colours of both sexes show a very visible green-yellow and spots on the flanks become quite pronounced. 5-8 eggs are laid July-August: egg size varies according to subspecies. Salvador notes that captive specimens from Guadarrama laid eggs which took 35 days to hatch: this shortish incubation period is probably necessitated by the altitude and climate. B I
L. m. monticola Portugal (Serra da Estrèla) 10" Dorsum green or yellowish-green, with a reddish brown centre. Ventrum green or yellow-green blotched with black. Found between 1,450m and 1,975m altitude and is common near lakes. Scalation details: Rostral usually separated from internasal. Dorsal scales: not flattened, slightly keeled, 48-57.
L m. bonnali French Pyrenees (Lake Bigorre region) 7-7¼" See L. bonnali.
L m. cyreni Spain (Sierra de Guadarrama, Sierra de Gredos) 9" Dorsum green-blue.Ventrum pale green-grey or pale green-blue. In Gredos it is found in abundance at the alpine level between large rock formations and lakes, while in Guadarrama it has been observed at its lowest at 1,800m in rock faces At its highest level (2,300m) it is found near mountain tops. Scalation details: Rostral usually contacts internasal.
L m. cantabrica NW Spain (Cantabrian mtns) 9" Found not only among rocks but also in deciduous woods and on land planted with the shrub Erica scopatria. In Galicia especially it occupies a wide variety of habitats, from deciduous mountain woods to coastal enclaves at the low altitude of 50-90m. Dorsum greenish in males and brown-grey in females. Ventral surfaces green-yellow. Males possess 1-2 bluish or bluish-green spots on each shoulder. Scalation details: Rostral may be in slight or full contact with internasal or not at all. Dorsal scales are somewhat scaled, with 46-62 at mid-body. Alternation on tail between broad and narrow bands clearly visible. Sympatric with P. muralis, which it closely resembles, but can be distinguished by lesser amount of spotting (or absence thereof) on the underside. Also the rows of granules between the supraciliaries and supraoculars are usually complete, as opposed to being normally incomplete in P. muralis.
L. mosorensis Mosor Rock Lizard S Dalmatia, Hercegovina, Montenegro and islands 8-9" Sympatric with L. oxycephala, but found mainly at 600-1,500 m. The high rainfall in these areas are essential to its survival in the mountains, where it lives among caves, fissures and recesses. In coloration it is quite different from L. oxycephala, being an overall earth brown with small black dorsal markings and a corn yellow belly. B I
L. oertzeni ? Lizard Greece (Ikaria Island), Turkey (W south coast), Turkey (between Kas and Finike), Turkey (western and central south coast), Turkey (western south coast, between Milas and Fethiye) and Greece (Rhodes and surrounding islands) ?" ?. B I
L. o. budaki
L. o. finikensis
L. o. ibrahimi
L. o. oertzeni
L. o. pelasgiana
L. oxycephala Sharp-Snouted Rock Lizard Dalmatia, Hercegovina, Montenegro and islands 8" Distributed over a relatively small area (mainly coastal regions of the Adriatic), but reasonably abundant. L. oxycephala is an excellent climber and is found on limestone mountains at up to 1,500 m as well as on the walls of stone buildings up to 90 ft high: apparently it is quite a tourist attraction on the walls of the medieval harbour of Korcula in the former Yugoslavia. The body and head are somewhat flattened, allowing it to squeeze into crevices. The colouring of the lizard is very distinctive, the brown reticulated markings on the back giving way to a blue tail with blackish hoops and a green head. The belly is the same pale blue as the tail. Melanistic black individuals with cobalt blue throats are occasionally encountered, usually at high altitude or among island populations. Females lay eggs in early summer: incubation is six weeks. The young measure 5 cm. B I
L. pamphylica Pamphylican Green Lizard Turkey (C south coast) 12" ?. B I
L. parva Dwarf Rock Lizard Armenia, Turkey (C and NE Anatolia): poss. also NW Iran, Asia Minor 6" ?. B I
L. praticola Meadow Lizard NE Balkans, Caucasus 6" The range of the Meadow Lizard is actually quite restricted, consisting of a few isolated populations. It likes damp, well-planted habitats, such as stream banks and meadows around mountain streams. This species is often confused with L. vivipara (Viviparous Lizard), but the two species can be told apart by their anal plates. In the Meadow Lizard this is larger and ringed with a single row of small scales, while in the Viviparous Lizard it is surrounded by several rings of small scales. The colouring is an overall light brown, with a yellow belly. Note that some authorities, including the EMBL database, consider this to be a member of the genus Darevskia instead. B I
L. p. pontica W Caucasus, Rumania and Bulgaria
L. p. praticola E Caucasus
L. schreiberi Photo by Linda Sillence, courtesy of Chris Davis. Click on the image to see the full picture. Schreiber's Lizard [Sp Lagarto verdinegro] Spain (N & C), Portugal 16" Smaller than but similar to the Eyed Lizard in appearance and diet, while inhabiting similar habitats to those of the Green Lizard. In the north it prefers lowlands but in the south can be found at up to 1,800 m. There are colour variations but no described subspecies. Sexual dichromism is marked (see Coloration).Habitat depends on location: in Galicia and Asturias it is found in lowlands as well as on mountains, but in Portugal and the interior of the Iberian peninsula it is found only in the mountains at altitudes of 600-1,800m, where it lives along the banks of gullies and streams. Generally it prefers humid places with plenty of bushes: it is somewhat semiarboreal, with many subadults hunting in bushes [Salvador]. Salvador also mentions that in Portugal and Salamanca the lizard's "year" is from March to October. Prey consists of small invertebrates, including spiders. Scalation details: Supraciliaries separated from supraoculars by a row of 2-8 granules. Fairly large trapezoid occipital. Nasal orifice contacts or borders on rostral. There is a small maseterica but no tympanica. Collar: not serrated, 10-14 scales. Throat: 19-27 scales between submaxillaries and centre of collar. Femoral pores: 11-18 on each side. 22-26 lamellae beneath 4th toe. Dorsal scales: oval with slightly raised keel, 47-58 rows at mid-body. Ventral scale rows: 8 longitudinal rows of imbricated scales. Coloration: basically overall green on the body, with brownish tails. Males have a blue throat and strong black coloration on the belly, with a plentiful stippling of black spots all over. Females have fewer but thicker black spots on the back and sides. Juveniles are a darker, almost brownish green, with 3-5 rows of white or yellowish spots ringed with black on each side of the body (not on the dorsum): the belly and tail are yellowish. This pattern may persist in a minority of adult females. Other females may be completely green without any trace of pattern, making them superficially similar to L. viridis [Salvador]. Reproduction: in the breeding season not only the throat but also the head becomes a cobalt blue colour. Females lay 13-21 eggs.
L. strigata Caucasian Green Lizard S Russia (NE Caucasus), E Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, SW Turkmenistan, NE Turkey, N Iran 10-13" Inhabits similar areas to L. schreiberi but can occur higher in the mountains at up to 2,500 m. It has light longitudinal stripes on a greenish background. There are 6 rows of scales on the belly, which is greenish white and unmarked. Diet is mainly larger insects but smaller vertebrates such as lizards may also be taken. In the southern part of its distribution the females lay two egg clutches a year, in May-June and June-July: in some parts a third clutch is laid. Each clutch consists of 6-11 eggs. Incubation is about 60 days (Engelmann et al reckon 100 days in the terrarium): the young measure about 6cm on hatching and take two years to reach sexual maturity. B I
L. trilineata Balkan Green Lizard Balkans, Ionian islands, Asia Minor 20" Second in size to the Eyed Lizard but with a wider distribution: five subspecies (listed) in Europe and nine in Asia. Despite its mountainous range, the Balkan Green Lizard prefers lowlands and is only occasionally found at altitudes up to 1,000 m. It inhabits similar areas to the larger lacertids and has similar hibernation periods and diet, being partial to some sweet fallen fruits. Mating takes place in April, and in May females lay 9-18 eggs and bury them. Some southern females lay a second clutch in June. Sexual maturity takes two years. Males are differentiated by larger heads and a plain green colour, while females have light spots and whitish longitudinal dorsal stripes. Interestingly, young Balkan Green Lizards always have an odd number of stripes (3 or 5) while young Green Lizards always have an even number (2 or 4). The scientic name (trilineata means "three-lined") arose from a three-lined young specimen.

One cause for concern in some areas of the world concerns yet again the impact of feral domestic cats on lizard populations. A report notes that whereas L. t. israelica was able to dwell in equilibrium with the wildcat F. lybrica (which is nocturnal and a low-density species) in some areas of the Middle East, feral domestic cats have virtually exterminated it in some parts. B I

L. t. cariensis  
L. t. citrovittata Tinos Island (Cyclades)
L. t. diplochondrodes Rhodes
L. t. dobrogica NW Bulgaria, Rumania
L. t. galatiensis C Turkey
L. t. hansschweizeri Milos, Kimolos and Sifnos islands
L. t. israelica Lebanon, Syria and Israel
L. t. major Corfu
L. t. polylepidota Crete, Kithira
L. t. media NE Asia Minor, Caucasus, N. Mesopotamia
L. t. trilineata Balkans exc. Rumania
L. t. wolterstorffi Lebanon, Syria and Israel
L. viridis
Photo of Lacerta viridis by Hugh Clark, courtesy of Chris Davis. Click on the image to view the full-sized picture.
Green Lizard All mainland Europe to N. Spain, W. France, R. Dniepr, Turkey, Balkans, Italy and Sicily, Germany, Holland and Poland, SW Ukraine. 16" Third in size and second in popularity only to the Eyed Lizard, and the largest lizard in C. Europe. There are several subspecies across its wide distribution: northern forms tend to be more uniform in colour, while mildly striped or spotted forms are found in the south. Northernmost limits coincide with vine-growing regions, or in Czechoslovakia, sunny and rocky river valleys, and in S. Europe it has been found at heights of up to 1,800 m. Favourite habitats are pastures and rocky or wooded steppes: although not arboreal, they are excellent climbers and can rush up a tree if threatened. They also like burrows. Like their larger relatives, Green Lizards can take small rodents or birds as well as invertebrates. Green Lizards awake from hibernation in April, when the breeding season begins and lasts until June. Females lay 8-20 eggs six weeks after mating and bury them in pits. The young, 4cm long, hatch in August-September. Interestingly, hibernation takes place earlier for adults than for hatchlings, who can sometimes be seen up to the end of October. Males are distinguished from females by larger heads and blue throats, which are especially bright during the breeding season. Females have a yellowish-green throat. Sexual maturity takes three years. Since the use of chemicals in forestry has adversely affected the Green Lizard, this species is PROTECTED in most of Europe. However, captive-bred specimens are available. B I
L. v. infrapunctata NE Turkey
L. v. meridionalis SE Bulgaria, European Turkey
L. v. paphlagonica N & C Turkey
L. v. viridis NE Iran
L. vivipara Common/ Viviparous Lizard Europe as far as 70 deg. N, inc Brit. Isles, and as far east as Sakhalin in Siberia 6-7" Now reclassified as Zootoca vivipara. B I


Collins Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians of Britain & Europe, E N Arnold, J A Burton and D W Ovenden, HarperCollins, London 1978. For years this has been an invaluable guide to the English speaker, although a few of the taxonomic details were in need of revision. This was finally accomplished with the revised edition of 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.

Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa, W Kästle, H H Schleich and K Kabisch, Koeltz Scientific Books, Germany 1996. Outstanding review of N African herpetofauna giving detailed account of each species.

Guia de campo de los anfibios y reptiles de la peninsula iberica, islas baleares y canarias [Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Iberian Peninsula, Balearic and Canary Islands], Alfredo Salvador, Madrid. ISBN: 84-86238-07-2. Excellent book covering all reptiles and amphibians in the aforementioned areas. The one drawback for English speakers is that the text is Spanish. This book is unfortunately now out of print, but well worth purchasing if you can get a second hand copy.

Back to Lacertidae | Back to European Herps | Lizard Families | Main Lizards Page | Reptiles | Herpetology | Home Page