Podarcis liolepis cebennensis Guillaume & Geniez,1986 ♂
Common names: Catalonian Wall Lizard [En], Lézard catalan [Fr], Lagartija parda [Es]
Carcassonne, AUDE ● France
Thanks to Philippe Geniez for his help in the identification of the subspecies.
Taxonomy : The Catalonian Wall Lizard Podarcis liolepis (Boulenger, 1905) is part of the Podarcis hispanicus complex (Geniez et al. 2008a) and all the French populations of the “Iberian lizard” are redefined to this species (Geniez et al., 2010).
Three subspecies of Podarcis liolepis were defined:
• P. l. liolepis Boulenger, 1905 – North-eastern coast of Spain, Central and East Pyrenees as well as in departments Pyrenées-Orientales, parts of Aude and occasionally in Haute-Garonne (Geniez and Deso, 2009).
• P. l. cebennensis Guillaume & Geniez,1986 – South-western France up to the departments Drôme and Vaucluse east of the river Rhone (Geniez et al., 2008)
• P. l. sebastiani Klemmer, 1964 – Basque region.
Description: Slender agile long tailed lizards. Body can be up to 6.5 cm long and tail measuring up to 2 times the length. The size is variable according the location. They have a pointed long head, long and thin fingers. The coloration is very variable, usually greyish or brownish. Males are longer than females. Females are usually uniform light brown with sometimes light stripes or patterns on the flanks. Males have some dark spots along the back and flanks. Venter is usually creamy or beige, rarely rusty red.
This species can be distinguished from the Common Wall Lizard, Podarcis muralis, by some criteria including:
• The absence of the masseteric scale or a reduced one
• Numerous temporal scales (more than 60)
• General appearance more slender with a flat head and pointed snout
• Light yellow iris (orange to red on P. muralis)
• Almond-shaped eyes (round on P. muralis)
• Small and well defined black spots on the throuth (large and diffused on P. muralis)
• Absence of blue eyespots on the flanks of the males
• Whitish venter
Biology: They are active by day. When disturbed, they flee at the slightest sign of danger and run into a shelter. They live in small communities. The males are very territorial. They feed on insects. If caught, this lizard is very defenceless and fragile.
Breeding occurs when they wake up from hibernation in spring. They usually lay between 1 to 5 eggs laid in rock cracks, under stones, they develop for 8 weeks. The eggs usually hatch out in July. The average life span is around 4 or 5 years. They reach their sexual maturity in their second year.
Habitat: Found under 3400 m. They love climbing, and often found on boulders, large rocks, walls, tree trunks, sunny places. This lizard is usually encountered around human habitations (houses, gardens, even roofs).
Distribution: Podarcis liolepis is considered as a species originated from Iberian peninsula. Is expansion to France is supposed recent and his distribution limited to the Rhone river, which was considered like a natural obstacle impossible to cross by this lizard. But this opinion is now outdated, since the discovering in 2007 of two populations in the Drôme and Vaucluse department. (Geniez, 2008, 2009).
Geniez P. et al., 2008. Découverte de Podarcis liolepis (Boulenger, 1905) (Reptilia : Sauria : Lacertidae) en Provence, à l'est du Rhône (France), Bulletin de la Société herpétologique de France, no125, pp. 33-39. ISSN 0754-9962
Geniez P. & Deso G., 2009. Découverte de Podarcis liolepis liolepis (Boulenger, 1905) (Reptilia : Squamata : Lacertidae) en agglomération toulousaine, Bull. Soc. Herp. Fr. 129 : 25-33.
Geniez P. et al., 2007. Systematics of the Podarcis hispanicus-complex (Sauria, Lacertidae) I: Redefinition, morphology and distribution of the nominotypical taxon, The Herpetological Journal, 17: 69-80.
Dubois P., 2009. Lézard des murailles (Podarcis muralis) et Lézard catalan (Podarcis liolepis), Aide à la détermination.
Kaliontzopoulou A. et al, 2011.
When cryptic diversity blurs the picture: a cautionary tale from Iberian and North African Podarcis wall lizards, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 103, 779–800.
Phillips D. Reptiles & Amphibians of France