Added 10 October 2001. Last updated 11 December 2003: updated entry for Holaspis.


Adolfus, Gastropholis, Heliobolus, Holaspis, Latastia, Mesalina, Philochortus, Poromera, Pseuderemias


There is a surprisingly large number of little-known Lacertidae genera in Africa. Most of these seem to be based in East Africa, but some have spread as far as North, West and Central Africa. There is little information commonly available on these interesting lizards, partly no doubt due to the difficult climatic, geographical and political conditions of the continent, but also due to the shy or secretive nature of many of these species.

I am extremely indebted to Branch's Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa for the information on these African lacertids, and also to Rogner's book Echsen [Lizards] 2.

Note on Abbreviations: "SKDA" refers to the Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa by Stephen Spawls, Kim Howell, Robert Drewes and James Ashe, which was invaluable in ascertaining data for many of these species.


Adolfus, Forest Lizards Gastropholis, Keelbelly Ground Lizards Heliobulus, Bushveld Lizards
Holaspis, Blue-Tailed Tree Lizard Latastia, Long-Tailed Lizards Mesalina, Tiger Lizards
Poromera, Striped Lizard Philochortus, Orange-Tailed Lizards Pseuderemias, Greater Racerunners


A genus of four East African lizards formerly included in the Algyroides or Lacerta genera. All seem to be forest-dwelling creatures. Only A. jacksoni seems to have been observed in the pet trade, which is fair enough as the other species seem to have restricted ranges and our knowledge of their ecology is still incomplete: A. jacksoni also seems to tolerate human encroachment more.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes

A. africanus Green-Bellied Forest Lizard/ Multi-Scaled Forest Lizard Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (except the west), S Cameroon 8" Lowland forest dwelling with distinctive lime-green ventrum. Click here for a picture and details. SKDA suggest that this species dwells primarily in undergrowth rather than being truly arboreal, and that it seems to prefer primary forest. It is found mainly in or around clearings where sunlight penetrates the forest, at elevations from 580-1200m. Dorsally A. africanus is a bronze colour (including the head): this dorsal band is flecked with black spots roughly from forelimbs to tailbase. The middorsal band is also edged by a longitudinal row of white spots, which become thin stripes on the tail. The sides of the body and head are a darker brown: some specimens have diffuse white spots along the ventrolateral border. Scalation details (as given in SKDA): nostril separated from 1st upper labial. Dorsal scales: rhombic with diagonal keels which converge towards the midline of the back, middorsal scale rows larger than those of flanks, 18-24 transverse rows at midbody. Ventral scales: 6 longitudinal rows, median and outermost rows narrower, outermost ventral scale rows incomplete and faintly keeled. Other: 12-17 femoral pores beneath each thigh, 17-19 lamellae beneath 4th toe. Reproduction: no details yet available.
A. alleni Allen's Forest Lizard/ Alpine-Meadow Lizard Uganda, Kenya 7¼" (18cm) A. alleni has a restricted range, living at altitudes of 2,700-4,500m on several Ugandan and Kenyan mountains, usually in montane moorland above the treeline. It has only been confirmed from the Aberdare Mountains, Mt Kenya and Mt Elgon. Its natural habitat is alpine moorland and heather and Hagenia-Hypericum zones [SKDA]: individuals live in tussock grass or the spaces between. It is active throughout most of the day (about 9.30-5 [SKDA]). Prey certainly consists of beetles and their larvae and presumably other arthropods [SKDA]. This is a slim and long-tailed lacertid, although the tail takes up only two thirds of the total length. Overall it is brown or olive in colour, with two black-edged dorsolateral stripes that are either lime-green or red-brown [SKDA]. There is a broad or narrow dark vertebral stripe. The sides are brown or reddish and the venter bright orange, orange-pink or blue. Scalation details (as given in SKDA): nostril separated from 1st upper labial. Dorsal scales: lanceolate, strongly imbricate, 18-24 transverse rows at midbody. Temporal scales: 3-12. Collar: no granules beneath collar. Ventral scales: overlapping, 6 or more longitudinal rows, median and outermost rows narrower, outermost ventral scale rows incomplete and faintly keeled. Reproduction: oviparous: hatchlings 5-7cm: no other details yet available.
A. jacksoni Jackson's Forest Lizard Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, E Democratic Republic of the Congo 9½" (23½cm) Formerly considered a member of the Lacerta genus, this is a distinctive-looking mud brown lizard covered in white ocelli which are outlined in dark brown/black. It apparently dwells on the periphery of forests in highland areas and is fairly common in some areas. Click here for a picture and details. SKDA suggest it may be less dependent upon primary forest conditions than A. africanus: they note also that it avoids closed canopy areas and is the most tolerant of the genus of human encroachment. The German site gives the following care recommendations: daily temperature of 28-34 deg C, dropping to 18-22 deg C at night: UV light: humidity of 60-80%: cage furniture for both hiding and climbing: diet of insects. Scalation details (as given in SKDA): nostril separated from 1st upper labial. Dorsal scales: smooth or faintly keeled, 37-48 transverse rows at midbody. Temporal scales: numerous small scales in temple region. Collar: 7-10 plates, numerous granules beneath collar. Ventral scales: 6 or more longitudinal rows: if only 6 then outermost ventral scale rows are complete and not keeled. Other: scales on the tail are strongly keeled and aligned in straight longitudinal rows. 22-26 lamellae beneath fourth toe, 15-21 femoral pores beneath each thigh. Coloration: dorsal brown to olive in broad band from top of head as far as tip of tail: band contains black spots or sometimes black dash-marks. Flanks much darker, occasionally blackish (higher elevation specimens), usually have several series of white or blue ocelli edged in black. Ventral surfaces vary from yellow to dull bluish, sometimes spotted. The photos in SKDA seem to imply a western and an eastern colour phase. Reproduction: females lay clutches of (usually) 3-5 eggs, often in communal nesting sites: no other details as yet available.
A. vauereselli Sparse-Scaled Forest Lizard W Uganda, W Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, C & E Democratic Republic of the Congo 6-7" Formerly considered a member of the Lacerta genus. This species dwells in forest clearings at higher altitudes than A. jacksoni and is more tolerant of cooler temperatures [SKDA]. Click here for a picture and details. SKDA suggest that in most ways its behaviour and ecology are similar to that of A. africanus, which it replaces in some areas at higher elevations (1,000-2,400m). Scalation details (as given in SKDA): nostril in contact with 1st upper labial. Dorsal scales: smooth, 38-50 transverse rows at midbody, middorsal scales larger than those on flanks. Temporal scales: numerous small scales in temple region. Collar: 6-11 plates. Ventral scales: 6 longitudinal rows, outermost ventral scale rows incomplete and smooth. Other: 7-10 femoral pores beneath each thigh. Coloration: light yellow to copper-coloured in mid-dorsal band including top of head. Small dark spots on back, may form longitudinal mid-dorsal row. Flanks are rich reddish-brown edged with black above and 1-2 rows of white ocelli edged in black. Light streak from cheek to side of neck passes through ear opening. Reproduction: females lay clutches of (usually) 3-5 eggs, often in communal nesting sites: no other details as yet available.


A genus of four African lizards of which two were included until recently in the Bedriagaia or Lacerta genera. There is little information available on them, probably at least partly because of their secretive nature.. All are highly arboreal and live high in the trees: adaptations to this life include long limbs, hooked claws and a long tail that is in at least some cases prehensile. Their common name of "Keel-Bellied Lizards" derives from their ventral keeled scalation.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes

G. echinata ? Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, C Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) ?" Reassigned from the Lacerta to the Gastropholis in 1989: see EMBL database entry for details.
G. prasina Green Keel-Bellied Lizard NE Tanzania (Tanga, Amani, Kiono Forest), SE Kenya 16" Striking green lizard that at first glance is reminiscent of some of the European Lacerta species. Nearly three quarters of the total body length consists of the prehensile tail. It is found in woodland, forest and thickets on or near the coastal plain from sea level up to above 3,000 ft. Deforestation makes it vulnerable. They live in holes in trees high off the ground, laying their clutches in these refuges. Dorsal scales: smooth, not overlapping, small and granular, 28-40 rows at midbody. 11-16 preanal pores. Ventral scales: keeled in 8-12 longitudinal rows. Other: 13-15 femoral pores beneath each thigh. Coloration: overall bright green, ventrally yellow-green, some turquoise around limb sockets: sometimes fine black speckled lines on flanks. Tongue bright red. Eye large with black pupil and golden iris. Reproduction: clutches of 5 eggs laid by captive (s) September-October [SKDA].
G. tropidopholis ? C Democratic Republic of the Congo ?" Formerly considered a member of the Bedriagaia genus but reassigned in 1989. See EMBL database entry for details.
G. vittata Striped Keel-Bellied Lizard Coastal regions of Tanzania and N Mozambique (EMBL claims probably not on Zanzibar) 10-14" Medium-sized lacertid with long (70% of total length) prehensile tail. Its limbs are quite long and the rear ones stout: the digits are long and spindly with a hooked claw on each [SKDA]. Few specimens have been caught, and there is virtually no information on their reproductive cycle. G. vittata is found in forests, woodland and thicket: deforestation poses a threat to this species. Dorsal scales: smooth, not overlapping, small and granular. Collar: white collar of scales present. Ventral scales: keeled. Other: femoral pores beneath each thigh. Coloration: overall brown to dark brown. Two dorsal and two lateral white or blue-white lines (lateral lines paler). Rows of black flecks on lower part of first quarter of tail break up into unpatterned brown flecks [SKDA]. Eye large. Reproduction: no details yet available.


The Bushveld Lizards are a genus of widely distributed but isolated from one another species. They are closely related to the Meroles and Pedioplanis lizards (Branch). There is little information readily available on them. SKDA suggest that the genus may be artificial.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
H. lugubris Bushveld Lizard Angola, W Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia 5-7?" Formerly classified as an Eremias species: see EMBL database entry for details. In shape and coloration it somewhat resembles its congeneric, H. spekii. They are fairly common on sandy, sparsely vegetated plains, where they dart from bush to bush [Branch]. Their diet is insectivorous, with termites being especially favoured. Scalation details (as given in Branch): small elongate temporal borders each parietal. Crescent-shaped tympanic scale above ear opening. Lower eyelids scaly. Subocular borders the lip. Dorsal scales: small and keeled at midbody, 63-71 transverse rows at midbody. Collar: present. Ventral scales: 6 longitudinal rows. Other: 12-18 femoral pores beneath each thigh, 2-3 keels on scales beneath toes. Coloration: Adults are overall grey- to red-brown with indistinct black transverse bars and three light dorsal longitudinal stripes: the middle one divides on the neck and extends onto the tail. Tail is usually pale brown and there are pale spots on the legs. Ventral surfaces are white. See below for the coloration of hatchlings. Reproduction: female lays 4-6 eggs in a chamber dug in loose sand. Eggs hatch December-May. An interesting feature is that the hatchlings are jet black, with broken yellow-white dorsal and lateral stripes and a sand-coloured tail: this, and their jerky and stiff way of movement, makes them effective mimics of a local beetle which can squirt pungent acidic fluid at predators, and thus grants them some protection.
H. neumanni Neumann's Sand Lizard Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania 5½-5¾" (14½cm) Formerly classified as an Eremias and then a Mesalina species: see EMBL database entry for details. There is little information available on the natural history of this terrestrial species [SKDA]. Scalation details (as given in SKDA): nostril pierced between 3 nasals and 6 longitudinal rows of ventral scales. Frontal scale contacts supraoculars. Lower nasal excluded from rostral. Subocular borders mouth. Dorsal scales: small, strongly keeled but not pointed nor overlapping, 40-42 transverse rows at midbody, middorsal scales larger than those on flanks. Temporal scales: numerous small scales in temple region. Collar: straight, 6-7 plates. Ventral scales: 6 longitudinal rows, 25-26 transverse rows. Other: 24-25 bicarinate lamellae beneath 4th toe, 10-11 femoral pores beneath each thigh. Coloration: dark brownish-black, distinctive orange-red limbs and tail. Pattern consists of one three paler longitudinal dorsal stripes and two light lateral stripes. Most individuals found hve a single distinctive lateral light spot on the side of the body above the origin of the forelimbs. Reproduction: no details available.
H. nitida ? N Nigeria, Togo, Benin, N Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Cameroon " ? Three subspecies: H. n. nitida, H. n. garambensis and H. n. quadrinasalis.
H. spekii Speke's Sand Lizard S Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, S Sudan, S Ethiopia 7½" (18cm) Formerly described as Eremias species. There are three subspecies, but SKDA seem to imply that the differences are not necessarily subspecific: they note that the northern specimens used to be considered H. s. sextaeniata. H. spekii is often found in the same areas as Latastia longicaudata and in three areas with the less common Pseuderemias smithii [SKDA]. It occurs in low-lying dry country, often beneath bushes. It is active in the heat of the day but often shelters between periods of activity [SKDA]. Scalation details (as given in SKDA): Frontal scale separated from supraoculars by small scales. Lower nasal in broad contact with rostral. Subocular tends to contact the mouth in more northern specimens but is often excluded from the mouth in southern specimens (hence the question of subspecies). Dorsal scales: small, rhombic and stronly keeled at midbody, 63-71 transverse rows at midbody. Temporal scales: head shields flat, strong and finely striated. Collar: curved, 7-10 plates. Ventral scales: 6 longitudinal rows, 23-30 transverse rows. Other: 13-18 femoral pores beneath each thigh, 22-24 bicarinate lamellae beneath 4th toe. Coloration: overall sandy or pale brown. 5-6 white longitudinal stripes that vary between sharp and indistinct. On the brown-coloured areas between the stripes run rows of evenly spaced black lateral bands: the effect is that of a tiger-like camouflage beneath the white stripes. The two middle stripes begin at the neck and join at the base of the tail and continue down it some way as a single stripe. The lateral stripes appear to extend forward to the eye and lip respectively. Again the number of stripes varies with location, 5 being more common in southerly specimens and 6 in the northerly. Ventral surfaces are white but become tan posteriorly. Reproduction: the female lays a clutch of (probably) 4-6 eggs. Hatchlings have well-defined dorsal stripes on a black ground colour and red tails.
H. s. spekii
H. s. scorteccii
H. s. sextaeniata


These are the rather unique Blue-Tailed Tree Lizards, the most arboreal of all lacertids. Until recently the genus was considered monotypic (H. guentheri, with two subspecies) but H. laevis was raised to species status by Broadley, and the German lacertid specialist Bischoff confirms this change.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
H. guentheri Blue-Tailed Tree Lizard Uganda, Tanzania, W Africa SW to Angola and NW to Sierra Leone 4¾-5" Small but unique lacertid in that it possesses gliding ability, jumping from tree to tree at distances of over 10m. Its flattened shape and striking coloration make this speciesi unmistakable. H. guentheri is found mainly in closed lowland forest: it may be found in more open woodland adjacent to forest and in some coastal forests, but does not tolerate deforestation [SDKA]. It is diurnal and arboreal, but does descend to the forest floor: loose bark provides hiding places. SDKA note that despite the striking coloration, in practice this is not an easy lizard to spot, nor to capture! The usual small invertebrates are taken as prey. The German site gives the same care recommendations as for Adolfus jacksoni, although one might dispute whether such a still little-known lacertid is as suited for beginners as they claim. Scalation details (as given in SKDA): 80-90 midbody rows including 6 ventral. Collar is present. Other: 17-25 femoral pores beneath each thigh, single preanal plate. 2-3 translucent scales present in each lower eyelid. Long toes have ring of flattened scales. Coloration: dorsally black with two longitudinal and one lateral cream stripes plus one short cream stripe on top of head. Chest and limbs also cream, ventrum orange in males and orange-grey in females. Tail has row of bright blue scales forming transverse bands, underside of tail is black. Eye moderate size. Reproduction: 2 eggs laid under loose bark or in leaf litter. SKDA note that captive specimens from Tanzania laid eggs November-April, while captives from NE Democratic Republic of Congo laid eggs in June. It is not certain how many clutches per year are laid. Hatchlings are just under half adult size.
H. laevis NE & E Tanzania, S to C Mozambique and W to S Malawi


Sometimes referred to as "Long-Tailed Lizards". So far I have found very little information on this genus.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
L. boscai   Ethiopia, Eritrea, N & C Somalia, Djibouti ?" There are three subspecies: L. b. boscai, L. b. arencola and L. b. burii.
L. carinata   Somalia (not west) and adjacent Ethiopia   Two subspecies: nominate and L. c. caeruleopunctata.
L. cherchii   C Somalia   Species first described in 1967: see EMBL database entry.
L. doriai   NW Somalia and adjacent Ethiopia, Eritrea, NW Somalia, Djibuti and adjacent Ethiopia 12"? Three subspecies: L. d. doriai, L. d. martensi and L. d. scorteccii.
L. johnstonii Johnston's/Malawi Long-Tailed Lizard Central Tanzania, Malawi, E? S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire; west to the Shaba Province), N Zambia, N Mozambique, Zimbabwe 6-8" Poorly known species found in moist savanna and grassland from 330 to 1000m altitude [SKDA]. Other than that is terrestrial and diurnal, little is known of its ecology or reproduction.L. johnstoni is a brownish lizard with whitish or pale blue flank spots and several bright yellow ocelli on the anterior flanks. Sexes can be distinguished in breeding season at least by the reddish-brown coloration of the males which becomes ligher posteriorly: females have a black-edged yellow vertebral stripe that runs from the neck to the base of the tail: SKDA mentions other yellow lines but it is unclear whether these apply to the females or to both sexes. Scalation details: dorsal scales strongly keeled, 39-52 rows at midbody. 11-16 preanal pores.
L. lanzai   Somalia: poss. Kenya and Tanzania   See EMBL database entry for further details. This is sometimes considered a subspecies of L. longicaudata.
L. longicaudata Southern Long-Tail Lizard Senegal, Mali, up to Sudan and Egypt (including Sinai Peninsula), and up to Ethiopia and N Somalia, Yemen, S Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, N Tanzania, Cameroon 16" Of all the Latastia genus, this seems to be the species most commonly imported (possibly because of its wide distribution), although little is still known about its life in the wild. They seem to be known under several common names, including African Sand Lizard, Orange Sand Lizard and even Red Sand Amevia (sic). Click here for a picture and some German text. The authors of this site note that these lizards like to climb. There are three subspecies: L. l. andersonii, L. l. longicaudata and L. l. revoili (the latter from East Africa). L. lanzai is sometimes considered a fourth. Coloration is varied, but the East African subspecies is usually medium brown to brick red in northern specimens [SKDA]. Several thin paler longitudinal lines run dorsally, crossed by a pattern of transverse black marks that give the overall impression of a tiger pattern. The black marks extend ventrolaterally onto the white lower surfaces: the ventral surfaces are usually white. Although this is the largest E African lacertid, almost 75% of its length consists of tail. This species is found in E Africa at least in either semi-desert shrubland or deciduous bushland, being fairly common. Scalation details (as given in SKDA for L. l. revoili): nostril pierced between 3-4 nasal scales, occasionally forms suture behind rostral scale. Collar: strongly serrated, posterior edge comprises 7-14 plates. Dorsal scales: smooth or faintly keeled, 55-65 rows at midbody. 11-16 preanal pores. Ventral scales: overlapping in 6 (sometimes 8) longitudinal rows, 26-29 (male) or 29-31 (female) transverse rows. Other: 22-27 lamellae beneath fourth toe, 6-9 femoral pores beneath each thigh. Reproduction: males have single enlarged preanal plate, females have small irregular plates. Egg layer: clutch size and seasonal details unknown.
L. ornata   Guinea-Bissau ?"  
L. siebenrocki   Guinea up to Tanzania ?" See EMBL database entry for details.
L. taylori   Somalia ?"  


Occasionally referred to as "Tiger Lizards" or "Desert Racers". Like certain other Lacertidae genera they are small and short-lived, reaching sexual maturity within one year. I do not recall ever having seen them offered for captive sale, but their small size and short lifespans would probably discourage many potential keepers in any case.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
M. adramitana   Arabian peninsula and Gulf 6?" ?
M. ayunensis   Oman 6"? ?
M. balfourii   Yemen 6"? Confined to Socotra Island in the Red Sea.
M. brevirostris   N Arabia, Pakistan, SW Iran, W Syria Jordan, Sinai, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates 6"? There are two subspecies other than the nominate, M. b. brevirostris: M. b. fieldi and M. b. microlepis. The latter is not agreed on by all authorities.
M. b. brevirostris   C Somalia 6"? ?
M. b. fieldi   C Somalia 6"? ?
M. b. microlepis   Jordan, N Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Iran, and S Sinai 6"? ?
M. ercolinii   C Somalia 6"? ?
M. guttulata Small Spotted Lizard/Small Spotted Desert Racer N & W Africa through Middle East to Indian subcontinent 6½" A very widespread species with, surprisingly, no subspecies, although M. watsonana was once a subspecies: another, M. g. susana, is no longer considered valid. Most are brown with two dorsolateral rows of white and black ocelli, but some may be black. Ventral surface is blue-grey. Interestingly these small lacertids seem to be actively preying on food items during the hot noon period, relying on ambush techniques to seize small arthropods. In turn it is a prey item for larger lizards, snakes and birds, protected mainly by its camouflage against the usually rocky habitat. Often confused with M. olivieri (Kästle et al), but distinguishable from the latter by a less striped pattern and slight differences in scalation around the eyes (the palpebral disk). Prefers warm places and mainly rocky or sandy ground, although it can also be found on grass or salt steppes (Kästle et al). The shelter is usually a hole in substrate, preferably slightly moister than the surrounding area. Breeding takes place in April, with several clutches of 2-7 eggs being laid per year.
M. martini   NE Africa and SW Arabia 6"? African distribution is apparently confined to coastal regions of the Red Sea: see EMBL database entry.
M. olivieri Olivier's Small Lizard/Desert-Racer N Africa, Middle East and Arabia 5-6" Small, short-headed and broad-snouted lizard that is sympatric with M. guttulata over much of its range. KKS note that it was very common at the beginning of the 20th century but has been reduced in numbers by agricultural projects. It feeds on small insects, spiders, snails and mites which form a substantial part of its diet in some places. In appearance it is similar to M. simoni. Ground colour is some variation of brown, from dark to beige, while the head may be silvery grey in old specimens. Dorsal pattern is also a variation on some arrangement of six longitudinal lines. Limbs are same colour as body but bear small spots. Lower flanks may be dotted with black. M. olivieri is active all year round but diurnal activity may extend into dusk during summer. It may also estivate. It is found in a variety of habitats: flat terraces of open ground with stones and shrubs; sandy or loamy soils with Frankenia thymifolia and Zygophyllum album; Halfa grass steppes; and in the Saharan region, sandy regions with rocks [KKS]. Scalation details (as given in KKS): 4 supraoculars of which 1st and 4th are small and divided. Nostrils rounded and protruding, situated between 3 scales of which one touches rostral. Frontal region somewhat bulging. Up to 7 supralabials: in 90% of specimens to 5th touched the eye, in 10% the 6th and rarely the 7th. 4 pairs of submaxillaries, of which anterior 3 are in contact. Palpebral disk: 2-3 plates rest on row of 4-6 small plates.Throat: gular fold and collar generally distinct. Dorsal scales: granular. Ventral scales: 8 longitudinal rows plus marginal row of half-sized plates on each side. Other: 14-15 femoral pores beneath each thigh. Reproduction: males can be distinguished from females by their ventrally flattened tailbase (rounded in females). There are 2 or more clutches per year with 2-4 eggs per clutch: KKS note that spermatogenesis is almost continuous but that oviposition does not occur in mid-winter despite the lizards being active all year round. This species may be somewhat longer-lived than comparable-sized lacertids, as KKS note that the juvenile pattern lasts for 1-2 years.
M. o. balfouri Socotra Island (Red Sea) ??.
M. o. latasti SE Algeria Status in some doubt: see EMBL database entry and Kästle et al. KKS note that S Algerian specimens assume a reddish-sand colour in summer and usually have a spotted pattern. The lateral rows of brown spots being most pronounced and the ground colour is additionally spotted with white.
M. o. martini Somalia and Aden Coastal areas of Red Sea
M. o. schmidtii Israel  
M. o. susana Iran?  
M. pasteuri Sahara Desert-Racer/Pasteur's Small Lizard Morocco, S Algeria, Niger, Mali 5-6" The distribution of this species is centred on central Sahara. It is distinguished by its beige colour and white longitudinal stripes and lack of ocelli. The pattern consists of one middorsal stripe and two lateral stripes on each side which are separated by narrow white or yellowish lines: the middorsal line continues for some distance along the tail. See KKS for full details. Like M. rubropunctatus it occupies the driest regions, but unlike the latter species it does hibernate. Another difference is its preference for mobile sands with tufts of grass and sand dunes, whereas M. rubropunctatus is prefers stony, rocky areas. As with the latter species, population densities are extremely low. The lizards stay sheltered at noon during the summer months. Only small food items such as aphids, ants, termites and insect larvae are taken. M. pasteuri is predated by a number of creatures including scorpions, one species of windscorpion, the Desert Monitor V. griseus, various snakes and crows. Scalation details (as given in KKS): 4-5 (usually 5) supralabials in front of the subocular. Palpebral disk: 2 (sometimes 3 plus smaller) translucid scales, with 2-3 smaller ones on low anterior margins. Dorsal scales: granular or subimbricate, smooth or slightly keeled, in 34-41 rows at midbody. Ventral scales: 10 longitudinal rows and 28-33 transverse rows. Other: Large anal plate surrounded by two series of preanals. 10-14 femoral pores beneath each thigh. Reproduction: sexual maturity probably reached in 1 year [KKS]. No information yet available on reproduction in the wild.
M. rubropunctata Red-Spotted Small Lizard/ Desert-Racer N & W Africa east as far as Sudan and Sinai 4½-5"? Grey to brown species easily identifiable by clear rows (usually 4) of white spots bordered with dark red, maroon or black. Ventral surfaces are yellowish white. It is found in arid desert regions, including such extremely dry areas as the Tanezrouft where it may be the only lizard. It takes refuge in cavities (natural or self-dug) beneath rocks. Possibly because of their ability to survive such extreme habitat, their population density is usually low [KKS]. They will also take shelter during the hottest part of the day. This species does not hibernate, but mild weather causes greater activity and the lizards do not shelter at noon. Food consists of ants and small coleoptera, especially tenebrionids, although in captivity they will take crickets [KKS]. Males are intensively hierarchical and will establish rank through fighting. Scalation details (as given in KKS): internasal mostly contacts rostral. 2 large supraoculars, 2nd separated from supraciliaries by 2-3 rows of granules. 5th supralabial normally touches the eye. Palpebral disk: several translucid scales. Other: large anal plate bordered by semicircle of 2-3 rows of small preanals. Reproduction: mating begins in March and ends in June. The mating process is fairly lengthy and leaves distinct bite marks on the female [KKS]. Clutches are laid between April and the first half of July: up to 2-3, sometimes 4, clutches are laid, consisting of 3-7 (usually 4-5) eggs. KKS note that sexual maturity may be reached in the second year. They also observe that the scorpion Androctonus amoureuxi is a major predator of the juveniles, who are also found with wounds inflicted by termite soldiers.
M. simoni Simon's Desert-Racer Morocco 5-6"? Distribution limited to Atlantic Coast: the only Mesalina species within its range. For a time it was considered a subspecies of M. olivieri: see KKS for summary of differences. In appearance it differs mainly by a heavier pigmentation of dark grey on the gular and ventral regions, and by having light dorsal stripes bordered with black (this black bordering lacking in M. olivieri). Scalation is very similar to M. olivieri apart from the palpebral disk, which is made up of 7-8 opaque or translucid plates which are never bordered in black, unlike those of M. olivieri. This species inhabits rocky plateaus with scarce vegetation [KKS], being found at above 3,000 ft but also on coastal plains. As it has only recently been differentiated from M. olivieri, details on ecology and reproduction are still lacking.
M. watsonana   Iran, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan 6"? ?



Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
P. fordii Striped Lizard Cameroon, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Bioko (Fernando Poo Island) ?" A very obscure lacertid. The common name "Striped Lizard" is found on the site, but otherwise I have found no other references to it. A photo shows an otherwise ordinary-coloured lizard with two light blue-green dorsolateral stripes.


A very poorly-known genus of lacertids distributed across North, West and East Africa region. I have been unable to find much information on them, and even the bibliography sources listed in the EMBL database are often fairly meagre or old. One source accords these the common name of "Orange-Tailed Lizards".

Rogner notes that this genus is supposedly closely related to Latastia, but with enlarged scales along the middle of the back.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
P. hardeggeri   Somalia, Djibouti, E Ethiopia ?" No data available.
P. intermedius   Sudan, S Egypt, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, N Kenya ?" Kenyan distribution is confined to the Kaliokwell River region. Apart from the nominate subspecies there is one other, P. i. rudolfensis.
P. lhotei   S Algeria, Niger ?"  
P. neumanni   SW Saudi Arabia, Yemen ?" ?.
P. phillipsi   N Somalia and adj. Ethiopia ?" Formerly considered a Latastia species: see EMBL database entry.
P. rudolfensis Turkana Shield-Backed Ground Lizard N Kenya 7" Very obscure lacertid known only from a few localities in the arid parts of N Kenya, in all just five specimens [SKDA]. Considered by some to be a subspecies of P. intermedius. See SKDA for the reasons for its elevation to full species status. Its distinctive characteristic (setting it apart from other E African lacertids [SKDA]) is a pair of longitudinal dorsal rows of enlarged scales. Tail is almost three times the snout-vent length. In coloration the head is greyish tan and the tail yellowish tan. The dorsal pattern consists of six narrow longitudinal white stripes enclosing five wider dark brown stripes. Ventral surfaces are white. Scalation details (as given in SKDA): Dorsal scales: small, smooth (posteriorly faintly keeled), 30-32 rows at midbody. Ventral scales: 6 longitudinal rows, 28 transverse rows. Other: lamellae beneath toes bear two keels, 10-14 femoral pores beneath each thigh. Reproduction: juvenile patterning identical to adults': no other details available.
P. spinalis   W & E Africa (Niger to Ethiopia) "? ?
P. zolii   S Libya 11-12"? Slender and long-tailed lacertid known from only two specimens found in SW Libya and SW Cyrenaica, hence there is some inexactitude over details of the species. It seems to inhabit oases. 6 light yellow longitudinal stripes run dorsally on the maroon back: the two central stripes bifurcate on the nape of the neck. The mid-dorsal scales are enlarged and the tail is red (tailbase itself being dorsally yellowish and ventrally whitish). Ventral coloration is white with bluish-green tinge apart from hindlegs which are yellow below. Limbs are light green-yellow. Scalation details (as given in KKS): supranasals contact one another. Internasals broader rather than long. Prefrontals widely separated by plate. Parietals somewhat shorter than frontal. Interparietal contacts occipital. 6 supraciliaries on each side, separated from supraoculars by granules. 4 supraoculars of which 1st and 4th fractioned, 2nd and 3rd about equal size. 3-4 supratemporals of which 1st is largest. Nostrils separated from 1st supralabial and postnasal by small margin. 5 supralabials in front of subocular. 2 loreals of which 2nd is much larger. 4 pairs of submaxillaries, of which anterior 3 are in contact. Collar: 6 scales. Throat: 25 gulars in median row. Dorsal scales: slightly keeled, 35-36 rows at midbody, 2 vertebral rows enlarged. Ventral scales: 6 longitudinal rows of which the 2 median rows are smaller, 31 transverse rows. Other: 14-15 femoral pores beneath each thigh. Reproduction: no details yet available.


A very poorly-known genus of lacertids centred on the East Africa region. I have been unable to find much information on them, and even the bibliography sources listed in the EMBL database are often fairly meagre or old. From the common name of "racerunner" for P. smithii or the generic name of "Greater Racerunner" one assumes that these are similar to the Eremias species, which may indicate a short lifespan in the wild.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
P. brenneri   NE Sudan, E Ethiopia, S Eritrea (?), Djibouti, Somalia, N Kenya ?" Scalation details: 4 nasals; subocular does not touch lip; head scales striated; toes unicarinate. Coloration: 5 dark longitudinal stripes with white spots on all except the middle. [SOURCE: Gans, Laurent and Pandit].
P. erythrosticta   Somalia ?"  
P. mucronata   E Egypt (including Sinai Peninsula), E Sudan, E Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, N Somalia ?"  
P. savagei   N Somalia ?" The holotype for this species was collected in the early 60s from sand dunes dotted with small bushes. The following details are from the over 50 male and female specimens collected during the same exhibition. Scalation details: 4 nasals; frontal separated from supraoculars by small granules; subocular reaches lips; 5-7 labials anterior to subocular; 5-7 supraciliaries. Upper head shields smooth. Dorsal scalation: 55-72 dorsal rows across body. Ventral scalation: 10 longitudinal rows, 23-28 transverse rows. Other: compressed toes, unicarinate subdigital lamellae, upper caudals strongly carinated, posterior subcaudals smooth. 15-22 femoral pores. Coloration: 5 longitudinal but often broken dark dorsal stripes: larger individuals tend to be more uniform, while in the smaller the dark longitudinal zones tend to be sharper: median stripe usually very thin, without or with only a few light spots, whereas the other stripes are wider with many light spots. Blackish dots may be absent or imposed on the striped pattern. [SOURCE: Gans, Laurent and Pandit].
P. septemstriata   Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia "?  
P. smithii Smith's Racerunner Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya 7" Scalation details: subocular does not reach lip; head shields and dorsal scales smooth; ring of granules around supraoculars; posterior subcaudals are keeled; 8 ventral longitudinal rows. Coloration: 5 longitudinal dark stripes, of which the lateral are broken up. [SOURCE: Gans, Laurent and Pandit]..
P. striata Peter's Sand Lizard Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia 6" (16 cm) There are two subspecies, the nominate and P. s. gardoensis.


For bibliography please refer to main Lacertidae page.

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