Atlas dwarf lizard (Atlantolacerta andreanskyi)

Atlas dwarf lizard
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Atlas dwarf lizard fact file

Atlas dwarf lizard description

GenusAtlantolacerta (1)

The Atlas dwarf lizard (Atlantolacerta andreanskyi) is a small, mountain-dwelling lizard which takes its name from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, where it is endemic (2).

Like other species in the Lacertidae family, the Atlas dwarf lizard is a small reptile, with the female often being slightly larger than the male. Its head and body are less flattened than in some other Lacertid species. A pattern of dark stripes running along the back of the Atlas dwarf lizard fade gradually along the sides into a white underside, which occasionally has a green tint. There is a dark stripe along the spine and the rest of the body is grey-brown (2).

Hatchling and juvenile Atlas dwarf lizards have brightly coloured, green-blue tails (2).

Lacerta andreanskyi.
Length: up to 5.5 cm (2)

Atlas dwarf lizard biology

The Atlas dwarf lizard has a long hibernation period (1), after which, like other Lacertid species, is likely to only be active during the warmest parts of the day (3).

Like other species in the Lacertidae family, it is likely that males of this species have glands on the underside of their legs in order to mark territories, warn off potential competitors and attract mates. Should a competitor enter a territory, the male will perform a threat display, in which the throat is inflated, the body turned sideward and the head lowered (3).

This species reproduces sexually, and the female will lay three clutches of between one and three eggs per year (1) (2).

Members of the Lacertidae family will often run and hide underneath cover objects to escape from predators (3).


Atlas dwarf lizard range

The Atlas dwarf lizard is endemic to Morocco, where it is restricted to the High Atlas Mountains (1).


Atlas dwarf lizard habitat

The Atlas dwarf lizard is found at elevations between 2,400 and 3,800 metres (1). It is a ground-dwelling species, favouring areas with lots of vegetation, such as among shrub, thorn cushions and thickets. It is also found on scree near small water bodies (1) (2).


Atlas dwarf lizard status

The Atlas dwarf lizard is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Atlas dwarf lizard threats

There are currently no major threats to the Atlas dwarf lizard. However, its habitat is accessible to hikers, which could potentially cause some level of disturbance to this species (1).


Atlas dwarf lizard conservation

There are not known to be any specific conservation measures currently in place for the Atlas dwarf lizard, although its existence in Toubkal National Park ensures that part of its habitat is protected (1).


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A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
An organ that makes and secretes substances used by the body.
A winter survival strategy in which the animal passes the winter in a resting state. This period of inactivity is characterised by specific biological and biochemical changes including lowered blood pressure and respiration rate. In reptiles, this is also known as brumation.
Small loose rock debris covering a slope.
An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a group.


  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2011)
  2. Arnold, E.N., Arribas, O. and Carranza, S. (2007) Systematics of the Palearctic and oriental lizard tribe Lacertini (Squamata: Lacertidae: Lacertinae), with descriptions of eight new genera. Zootaxa, 1430: 1-86.
  3. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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