CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Italian Wall Lizard - Podarcis siculus

(Rafinesque, 1810)
Click on a picture for a larger view




Range in California: Red

If you see any lizard that looks like this living in the
wild in California outside of San Pedro please
email
me and send a picture if you can.



observation link






This is an alien species that has been introduced into California. It is not a native species.

Two different subspecies of this lizard have been found so far in California, P. s. siculus and P. s. campestris

Southern Italian Wall Lizard - Podarcis siculus siculus (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810)

 
Adult 1, Los Angeles County
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard
     
Adult 2, Los Angeles County
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard
  Southern Italian Wall Lizard  
     
Below are more adult lizards found in Los Angeles County
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard  
Above photos are all adults from Los Angeles County © Gary Nafis
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Southern Italian Wall Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult, San Pedro, Los Angeles County. © Jonathan Hakkim Adult, San Pedro, Los Angeles County. © Jonathan Hakkim Italian Wall Lizards have small granular scales on the back.

More pictures and information at Lacerta.DE


Northern Italian Wall Lizard - Podarcis siculus campestris  (De Betta, 1857)

  Southern Italian Wall Lizard  
  Adult female, San Marcos, San Diego County © 2016 Andy Thomson
Photo voucher - San Diego Natural History Museum no. SDNHM_Herp- PC_5329
 
     
Suburban Los Angeles County Habitat
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Habitat Southern Italian Wall Lizard Habitat Southern Italian Wall Lizard Habitat
Southern Italian Wall Lizard Habitat Southern Italian Wall Lizard Habitat  
 
Short Video
  Southern Italian Wall Lizard  
A brief look at a few of these alien lizards in their suburban habitat.  
Description
 
Size
Up to 3.5 inches long from snout to (9 cm).

Appearance
A medium-sized lizard with a long slender body with a large deep head, muscular limbs, and a tail up to twice the length of the body.
Color and Pattern
Highly variable in appearance - above is typically green, yellowish, olive, or light brown.
Some individuals change from green to brown in the summer.

The sides are often reticulated or checkered.
These markings may extend over the back.
When a vertebral streak is present, it is usually black.
Dorsolateral streaks are not clear.
Some individuals have a very faint pattern, or none at all.

The underside is whitish or greyish, sometimes with a green tint, usually without dark spots.

According to Guntram Deichsel: Sicilian Podarcis siculus may have red or orange coloring on the underside (as you can see on some of the lizards shown above.) Italian mainland Podarcis siculus are always plain white underneath. "The red on Sicilian ones may originate from genetic introgression of Podarcis wagleriana which occurs on Sicily only."
Male / Female Differences
Females are smaller than males, with a smaller head and a more obviously striped pattern.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Tolerates living close to humans.
A good climber, often found on rock faces, walls, and buildings.
Hunts on the ground.
Capable of running long distances.
Uses cracks, rock piles, bushes, etc. for refuge.
Can be very abunant in its natural habitat, sometimes in densities of 10,000 - 16,000 individuals per hectare.
Longevity
Individuals have lived 13 years in captivity.
Territoriality
Males are aggressive, and are known to attack other species of lizards that are green in color.
Diet and Feeding
Small invertebrates and vegetable matter. Has been known to eat its own young.
Predators
Preyed upon by birds, small mammals, snakes, and large insects.
Breeding
In its native habitat, breeding occurs when activity resumes in the spring.
Females breeding for the first time lay 1 or 2 clutches of eggs.
Females that have bred before lay up to 5 clutches of 2 - 12 eggs (typically 5 or 6) every 12 or so days.
Eggs hatch in 5 - 7 weeks.
Hatchlings are 1.2 - 1.4 inches snout to vent lenght (3 - 3.5 cm).

Geographical Range

Locations in California



Podarcis siculus
- Italian Wall Lizard has so far been found in two areas in California:

1) A population introduced into San Pedro, Los Angeles County, in 1994 was documented in 2010. These were determined to be the subspecies Podarcis siculus siculus - Southern Italian Wall Lizard.
(See the Herpetological Review note below.)

2) In September of 2016 a population of Podarcis siculus campestris was documented in California in San Marcos, San Diego County. The lizards had been seen for at least five years in at least eight different residences in the area. It was estimated that the population is restricted to half a square kilometer. (Herpetological Review 47(3), 2016.)
The subspecies was identified as Podarcis siculus campestris - Northern Italian Wall Lizard by Guntram Deichsel of the website www.lacerta.de. This indicates that they were not introduced from the San Pedro population.




Native Range



Podarcis siculus
- Italian Wall Lizard

Native to Italy, Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, Minorca, the south of France, Spain, the east Adriatic coast, Turkey, and many small islands in the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian seas. (Map)


Podarcis siculus siculus - Southern Italian Wall Lizard

The natural range of the subspecies is Southern Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, and several Aeolian and Pontine Islands.



Locations of Introduced Podarcis siculus

The species has been introduced into Libya and Tunisia.


In North America this species has been introduced into:

Topeka, Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas
Hays, Kansas
Joplin, Missouri
Mt. Laurel, New Jersey
Long Island, New York (the Bronx, Planting, West Hempstead, Garden City, Hampton Bays - and spreading)
Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York
Greenwich, Connecticut

An established introduced population formerly found in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has been extirpated.




(A similar species Podarcis muralis - Common Wall Lizard, has also been introduced into the United States in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. It has also been introduced onto Vancouver Island in British Columbia, examples of which you can see here.)


Discovery of the San Pedro Population


John Ivanov contacted Gary Nafis at Californiaherps.com 4/7/2010 to report that he had seen numerous Italian wall lizards in San Pedro, California, and sent a picture for confirmation. Gary informed Guntram Deichsel, a noted German Podarcis researcher who has documented several introduced populations of the lizards in North America, and southern California herper Jonathan Hakim. In a joint venture, they surveyed the site and identified the lizards as Podarcis siculus siculus. Guntram discovered that they had been introduced from Sicily in the year 1994.The origin was genetically confirmed by Werner Mayer of the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria.

Details are given in Deichsel, Guntram, Gary Nafis, and Jonathan Hakim. Herpetological Review Volume 41, Number 4 - December 2010 P. 513-14 which you can read directly below.
(Specific locality information has been removed to protect the species from being collected and released elsewhere.)

PODARCIS SICULUS (Italian Wall Lizard). USA: CALIFORNIA: Los Angeles Co.: San Pedro ....  23 April 2010 and 7 May 2010. Gary Nafis and Guntram Deichsel. Verified by Werner Mayer. Museum of Natural History in Vienna, Austria (photo voucher and tissue sample; catalogue number: NULA-1). Two additional voucher specimens are deposited at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LACM 180482–180483).

First verified record of P. s. siculus from the USA. Burke and Deichsel (2008. In Mitchell et al. [eds.], Urban Herpetology, pp. 347–353. Herpetological Conservation Vol. 3. SSAR, Salt Lake City, Utah) present an overview of occurrences of P. siculus in the U.S. and mention introduced P. siculus campestris only for New York, Pennsylvania, and Kansas. Stebbins (2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts. 544 pp.) does not mention P. siculus in the area covered in this book.

Werner Mayer analyzed mtDNA from the tissue sample and submitted the result to GenBank (accession number HQ154646). A sequence of 887 bp of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene differed only by 1% mismatches from respective sequences of P. s. siculus from both the city of Agrigento (on the SW coast of Sicily) and from the Monti Peloritani mountains in the northeast of the island. The difference Agrigento–Peloritani is 0.9% mismatches. Sequences from Sicily differ by 1.9–2.4% from sequences from the opposite Italian mainland, i.e., extreme southern Calabria (W. Mayer, pers. comm.).

Approximately 50% of the Californian individuals are of the “concolor” (syn. “olivacea”) morph characterized by plain green dorsa. Intergrades with faded, mid-dorsally lined (females) or faded checkered dorsa (males) are also present. Venters are plain white, orange, red, or white with beige spots. This inter-individual variation of coloration is consistent with a Sicilian origin: on the Italian mainland all P. s. siculus have plain white venters whereas on Sicily both plain white and colored venters occur (Henle and Klaver 1986. In W. Böhme [ed.], Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas vol. 3 [Lacertidae III: Podarcis], pp. 254– 342. Aula Verlag, Wiesbaden).

JH surveyed the area several times after 7 May 2010, confining the occurrence to a ca. 300 m (NW–SE) x 400 m (NE–SW) rectangle centered at ... ... ... ... .... We estimate the total population size as over 1,000 animals. By interviewing residents, JH identified the person who originally introduced four females and three males, all adults, from Taormina on Sicily in September 1994. According to this person, “20 male and 24 female adult Southern Italian Wall Lizards, many juveniles, and lots of hatchlings co-exist together with 2–3 Southern Alligator Lizards and 4-5 Western Fence Lizards, all adults” in his/ her yard as of 29 June 2010. The total area of the person’s lot minus house footprint is 474 m2, yielding a population density of adult Southern Italian Wall Lizards of roughly one per 10 m2. In another resident’s garden measuring 72 m2, GD counted nine Podarcis, yielding a similar local density. In its home range, P. s. siculus can reach much higher densities. We recommend that the expansion of this alien species be monitored and possible interactions with native lizard species should be investigated.

Submitted by GUNTRAM DEICHSEL, Friedrich-Ebert-Str. 62, Biberach an der Riss, Germany DE-88400 (e-mail: Guntram. Deichsel@gmx.de); GARY NAFIS, (e-mail: grynaf@yahoo.com); and JONATHAN HAKIM, (e-mail: hakim.ndmva@gmail.com).


Full Species Range Map

Full Species Range Map
Elevational Range
On Sicily, sometimes ranges up to 6,500 ft. elevation (2,000 meters.)

Habitat
In its native range, this lizard is found in grassy areas, road edges, open fields, the edges of woods, sandy areas, near the sea, and vineyards. Often found around human structures, in domestic gardens and in parks.

Notes on Taxonomy
23 subspecies of Podarcis siculus are recognized.

Guntram Deichsel (of www.Lacerta.de) has informed me that while the name Podarcis sicula is still in common use for this species, Bohme & Kohler showed in a 2004 paper ** that since Podarcis is of variable gender, and the ICZN 1999 code states that a name of variable gender is to be treated as masculine, Podarcis should be treated as masculine. That makes the species name masculine: Sicula is feminine, and siculus is masculine, so the correct name for this species is Podarcis siculus, not Podarcis sicula.


** Do Endings of Adjective Flectible Species Names Affect Stability?
A Final Note on the Gender of Podarcis Wagler, 1830 (Reptilia, Lacertidae)
Wolfgang BOHME 8 Jorn KOHLER
Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Bonn, Germany
Bonner zoologische Beitrage 53 (2004)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
The impact of this invasive species on native lizards and other wildlife is not known, however several native lizards have been observed living in proximity with this species.
Taxonomy
Family Lacertidae Wall Lizards Cope, 1864
Genus Podarcis Wall Lizard Wagler, 1830
Species siculus Italian Wall Lizard (Rafinesque, 1810)
Subspecies

siculus Southern Italian Wall Lizard (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810)
Original Description
Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Podarcis: Greek - Agile, and Feet.
"Pod" = foot, pod arcis is the sharp (meaning agile) foot. (GD)
Sicula: Latin - from Sicily.

Alternate Names
Podarcis sicula is still in common use, but Podarcis was determined to be male requiring the use of siculus instead of the female sicula.

Ruin Lizard

Related or Similar California Herps
None

More Information and References
Deichsel, Guntram, Gary Nafis, and Jonathan Hakim.
Herpetological Review Volume 41, Number 4 - December 2010 P. 513-14

Arnold, E Nicholas. Reptiles and Amphbians of Europe, 2nd Edition. Princeton University Press, 2002.

Guntram Deichsel, personal communications.

www.Lacerta.de

Conservation Status

The following status listings come from the Special Animals List and the Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.


This lizard is not a native species and is not listed on the Special Animals List.

Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN


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