Skyros wall lizard (Podarcis gaigeae)

Male Skyros wall lizard
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Skyros wall lizard fact file

Skyros wall lizard description

GenusPodarcis (1)

The Skyros wall lizard (Podarcis gaigeae) is a member of the Lacertidae family, a group of small- to medium-sized lizards with slender bodies and long tails, also known as the wall or true lizards (3). There is substantial variation in colour between the male and female Skyros wall lizard. The male is more vibrantly coloured than the brownish-grey female, with a bold streak of green along its back and mottled-black, brownish-grey flanks. The Skyros wall lizard grows to larger sizes on some of the smaller islands that it inhabits (2).

Genetic testing in 1999 confirmed that there are two subspecies of the Skyros wall lizard: Podarcis gaigeae gaigeae and Podarcis gaigeae weiglandi (1).

Lacerta taurica gaigeae, Podarcis erhardii gaigeae, Podarcis milensis gaigeae, Podarcis taurica gaigeae.
Snout-vent length: c. 6 cm (2)
c. 6.6 g (2)

Skyros wall lizard biology

Like many other wall lizards, which lay clutches of up to 10 eggs (3), the Skyros wall lizard is an oviparous, or egg-laying species (1). Commonly the most active reptile in its habitat, the Skyros wall lizard relies on its speed to dart from cover to cover to avoid predators. However, if captured by a predator, it can lose its tail through a series of muscle contractions in an attempt to escape (2).

The Skyros wall lizard is insectivorous, and actively hunts for a range of arthropods (2) (3).


Skyros wall lizard range

Found only in Greece, the Skyros wall lizard occurs on the Skyros Archipelago and on Piperi Island in the northern Sporades Islands in the Aegean Sea. It is believed to occupy an area of less than 20 square kilometres (1).


Skyros wall lizard habitat

The Skyros wall lizard is found in both bare areas and Mediterranean shrubby vegetation (1).


Skyros wall lizard status

The Skyros wall lizard is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Skyros wall lizard threats

Although the population size of the Skyros wall lizard is currently unknown, it is considered common on the few islands on which it occurs. Currently, there appear to be no major threats to the species, but it may potentially be affected by the outbreak of human-caused and natural wildfires, which can quickly spread across the species’ dry, shrubby habitat (1).

In addition, its extremely small range means that any changes to the ecosystem could have dramatic effects on the Skyros wall lizard, and the accidental introduction of predators in particular could deal a striking blow to its population (1).


Skyros wall lizard conservation

Due to the presence of the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), the island of Piperi is a protected area within the National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades. This island supports key populations of the Skyros wall lizard, and access to it is limited (1).


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A very diverse phylum (a major grouping of animals) that includes crustaceans, insects and arachnids. All arthropods have paired jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton (exoskeleton).
The sides of the body between the ribs and the hips.
Feeding primarily on insects.
An animal that reproduces by laying eggs, which hatch outside the mother’s body.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2010)
  2. Pafilis, P., Meiri, S., Foufopoulos, J., Valakos, E. (2009) Intraspecific competition and high food availability are associated with insular gigantism in a lizard. Naturwissenschaften, 96(9): 1107-1113.
  3. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Image credit

Male Skyros wall lizard  
Male Skyros wall lizard

© Jan Van Der Voort

Jan Van Der Voort
Antoon Wolfsstraat 24/1


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