Iberian Wall Lizard

The Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanica) is a small wall lizard species of the genus Podarcis that is found in the Iberian peninsula, in northwestern Africa and in coastal districts in Languedoc-Roussillon in France.

Length of an average adult is 50-70mm.

 In Spanish, they are commonly called lagartija and sargantana.

These attractive little lizards are common throughout our area and I have frequent sightings of them in my garden as well as when out and about. They vary in appearance according to age, gender and the season; males generally are more strongly coloured and patterned than females, and become more brightly coloured in the breeding season.

22/9/07-A female Wall Lizard basking in the September sunshine

22/9/09-The lizards find shelter from the hot sun and cold wet winter days beneath our stone paving, venturing out cautiously

The lizards do spend time basking in the sun, particularly on sunny mornings in the cooler months, but they are constantly alert and quickly dart for cover when approached.

I mostly catch sight of them around the bases of my big flowerpots or as they skitter rapidly over the ground between hiding places when they are out hunting. They are excellent climbers too and are often seen climbing tree trunks and through branches, where they are superbly camouflaged.

17/9/07-A Wall Lizard climbing our yucca tree

I have been privileged to have some fascinating views of the lizards in my garden, but perhaps my favourite one happened one April as I was clipping our overgrown honeysuckle. The photographs show the colours of the male lizard and an item on the species’ menu.

I spotted a handsome male in bright new breeding colours as he travelled along the top of the low wall beneath the hedge.As he got closer to me he suddenly climbed down onto the paving, hunching up his back and raising his body off the floor, keeping his eyes fixed intently on a point in front of him amongst some clippings.

24/4/10-The lizard spots his prey

He had spotted a very large  plump caterpillar that must have been on a leaf I had recently cut off. It was almost as big as his head, and I think he was attempting to take it away to eat it out of my reach.

24/4/10-He hauled out this large plump caterpillar

He manoeuvred his prize as far as the bottom of the wall, but either it was too big to carry or he was too hungry to care, as he stopped there and began to eat it right there.

24/4/10-He wrestled the caterpillar nearer the wall and began the eating challenge

It took him some time to cram the huge caterpillar in to his mouth and swallow it; I have to confess the though of it made me feel quite queasy, but he managed it, then turned and found a warm spot nearby amongst the hedge trimmings in which to rest and recover from his exertions. I imagine a meal on that scale may keep him going for a while.

24/4/10- Too full to move very far, he relaxed in a sunny spot

 

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