SPAIN 2011

 

 

Reptilia: LACERTILIA (Lizards)

Lizards are always very much in evidence in placed like the Iberian Peninsula but often identification requires close examination of specimens, especially as there are numerous species which closely resemble one another in basic body shape, size and colouration. During our visit we identified six species of lizards from three families and managed to photograph all but one species.

Gekkonidae:

Tarentola mauritanica - Moorish gecko
Only one gecko occurs within Madrid Province and it was not as commonly encountered as we had expected. We found only two specimens, one on rocks near the pools at Zarzalejo and another on the wall of a building in Valdemorillo in the evening. This is Europe's largest gecko species with a maximum length of 150 mm. It is widely distributed in the Mediterranean countries.

Moorish gecko,
Tarentola mauritanica

a specimen from Valdemorillo town
click on the images to enlarge

Lacertidae:

Podarcis hispanica hispanica - Iberian wall lizard
Three or four small wall or rock lizards occur in central Spain but we found only the commonest and most widely distributed, the Iberian wall lizard (Podarcis hispanica), the nominate subspecies occupying the central part of the species' range. Achieving a length of up to 200 mm, most specimens we saw were much smaller. We found them on rocks in every location visited.

Iberian wall lizard,
Podarcis hispanica hispanica

specimens from Zarzalejo and Robledondo


Psammodromus algirus - Large Psammodromus
The largest of the two Psammodromus rock lizards, the Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus) is found through most of the Iberian Peninsula and into North Africa. Maximum length is close to 300 mm but we did not encounter any specimens of that size. We found this species in every rocky location visited. We did not record the Spanish Psammodromus (P.hispanicus) which is also found in the area.

Large Psammodromus,
Psammodromus algirus

adults from Zarzalejo

 

Timon lepidus lepidus - Eyed lizard
The largest lizard in Europe is also one of the most spectacular, with its green, black and blue colouration. Although we did not find any specimens around the maximum length of 750 mm we did see surprisingly large numbers of medium-sized adults on rocky vantage points, from where they could flee quickly to a crevice or under a rock. Our first specimen was found hiding in a crevice at night at Zarzalejo and numerous others were seen at Robledondo. Spotted juveniles were found with some frequency at the stream site at Valdemorillo.

Timon lepidus lepidus,
Eyed lizard

adult from Zarzalejo
Timon lepidus lepidus,
Eyed lizard

juvenile from Valdemorillo

 

Scincidae:

Chalcides bediagai bediagai - Bedriaga's skink
An Iberian endemic, this skink is small (170 mm) compared to its congener, the Western three-toed skink (Chalcides striatus, 480 mm). As with many other species, Madrid Province is close to the northern edge of its range. We found a single specimen under a stream-side rock at Robledondo.

Bedriaga's skink,
Chalcides bedriagai bedriagai

single specimen from Robledondo

Chalcides striatus - Western three-toed skink
The only species we did not manage to photograph from the entire 18 herp species encountered, the single specimen was seen briefly by Wolfgang (hence positive and trusted identification) under a rock at the base of a dry-stone wall near the first pool at Zarzalejo, on the first night. This was probably our first herp of the trip and it had evaded us. It is similar to the aforementioned Bedriaga's skink (C.begriagei) but of more etiolated body shape and with three, rather than five, toes on each foot.