Biology and EcologyTop of page
Hybridization between P. sicula and P. tiliguerta (Capula, 2002), P. raffonei (Capula et al., 2002) and P. wagleriana (Capula, 1993) has been recorded.
This species is oviparous and has a seasonal reproductive cycle every year. In its native range (and similar latitudes), the mating season starts in March and can last until July. Egg deposition in females occurs from May to June, and eggs are spawned in clutches. If not breeding for the first time, females may lay up to 4 or even 5 clutches (each clutch can contain 2-12 eggs, but the normal range is 5-6) (Salvador, 2006; Corti, 2006). Eggs normally hatch in 5-7 weeks and offspring typically measure 3-3.5 cm from snout to vent (Arnold and Ovenden, 2002).
Egg laying can vary between island and mainland populations. Small island populations of north Croatia lay fewer eggs (2-4) compared to mainland ones but eggs are larger and hatch into larger offspring, often with shorter legs (Arnold and Ovenden, 2002). This strategy seems to be advantageous to islet conditions (few predators and low availability of food).
Maturity is usually reached when offspring are about 5 cm from snout to vent. For males this is usually after 1 year and for females it can be 1-2 years.
Physiology and Phenology
A study of thermal requirements using Southern California populations (Liwanag et al., 2016) concluded that thermal tolerance varies with age and gender. Females were shown to have a wider thermal breadth than males and juveniles, and able to tolerate colder temperatures. However, adults in general were found to be capable of tolerating higher temperatures than juveniles (Liwanag et al., 2016).
Lizards from Long Island (New York, USA) are subject to much colder winters than they would be in their native range near Rome. Winter temperatures there can reach -7ºC; while in Long Island temperatures can reach -20ºC. Although this is a huge difference, animals are able to survive and even expand to northern locations in the USA. Burke et al. (2002) suggest that survival to these conditions is most likely due to hibernation deep underground, where they can avoid freezing. P. sicula is able to tolerate colder temperatures by supercooling, but it cannot survive for long if ice nucleation occurs; burrowing themselves 24 cm deep will allow them to pass the winter. Nevertheless, hibernacula places are still not known.
Herrel et al. (2008) and Vervust et al. (2010) studied morphological and physiological adaptation of P. sicula in two islands off the Adriatic coast (Pod Mrcaru and Pod Kopiste). These two islands were part of an experimental introduction in the 1970’s (Nevo et al., 1972), in which five pairs of P. sicula were introduced from Pod Kopiste (only inhabited by P. sicula) to Pod Mrcaru (only inhabited by P. melisellensis), and five pairs of P. melisellensis were translocated from Pod Mrcaru to Pod Kopiste. It is important to note that P. melisellensis got extinct from Pod Mrcaru. Both islands represent introduced populations of Italian wall lizard and provide a unique opportunity to study adaptive evolution in a short period of time. Hence, Herrel et al. (2008) and Vervust et al. (2010) took advantage of this history to look at the changes at a morphological and physiological level. They concluded that Pod Mrcaru lizards feed on a greater proportion of plant material which could have led to several adaptations: (i) head dimensions and bite forces are higher in Pod Mrcaru (to help tear up tough plant material); (ii) presence of cecal valves in hindgut on Por Mrcaru lizards (to slow down food passage and provide fermenting chambers); (iii) Pod Mrcaru individuals have longer and more complex intestines (to increase digestive efficiency); (iv) Pod Mrcaru lizards have wider, broader and stronger teeth (to facilitate tear of rough plant material); (v) nematodes were present in Pod Mrcaru but not in Pod Kopiste. Vervust et al. (2010) also did an experiment where lizards of Pod Mrcaru were fed only with arthropods over the course of 15 weeks to assess if adaptation was mainly genetic or plastic. They suggest that at least some of the changes are based on plastic adaptation, since after the experiment the digestion tract length was reduced and a total loss of cecal valves was observed. These experiments provide an excellent understanding on the ability of P. sicula to adapt in new environments, and has revealed a digestive flexibility that can be advantageous to its establishment and colonization success.
Monti et al. (2013) performed a study on individuals from mainland and Licosa Island, where lizards present in the latter were darker (i.e. increased expressiveness of melanocortins). They concluded that this physiological process was associated to an increase in reproductive effort and a better resistance to parasites during the breeding season.
In its native range, P. sicula is diurnal and active all year, although during the winter, activity can decrease and only some individuals are seen on sunny days (Corti, 2006). Daily activity is mainly unimodal, with the exception of the summer season when soil temperatures exceed 40ºC. At this temperature, lizards are typically active morning and late afternoon (bimodal) reducing their locomotor activity and can be seen taking refuge in shade or burrows to avoid overheating (Foà and Bertolucci, 2001).
In contrast, in their introduced range in New York, USA, lizards are not active from November to February, and only seen in high numbers from May to August. Their daily activity is similar to in their native range, with unimodal pattern almost all of the active months and bimodal patterns from June to August. In general, they are less active during the year in New York but also active fewer hours per day when active, compared to their native range.
Population Size and Structure
In its native range, P. sicula can be found in high numbers and populations are large. Even when inhabiting low productivity ecosystems (such as vineyards) they can retain large populations as they are able to exploit a large variety of prey (small arthropods) (Biaggini et al., 2009).
In their introduced range, populations are equally dense but the capability to expand may be less so. In Cantabria, for example, the population is constrained to the same place that it was initially introduced to, even though it is a dense population. Other introduced populations (USA, Lisbon, Menorca) represent cases where populations are highly dense and able to expand their territory.
P. sicula diet can vary depending on geographical position, ecological conditions (i.e. mainland or island), season or local prey fauna composition. The main composition is arthropods, however when arthropods are scarce they are able to incorporate small molluscs, crustaceans, plant matter, small reptiles (even cannibalism) and small mammals. They are very plastic and capable of adapting to different diets.
The percentage of each food material can vary with population, even within its native range (Zuffi and Giannelli, 2013). For example, in central Italy (around Rome) Isopoda represent 50% of the prey items, followed by Leptidora, Coleoptera and Gasteropoda. While in Luca (northwestern part), Coleoptera represent 30% of prey, followed by Insects, Araneae, Othoptera and Hemiptera. Diet composition is even more variable between introduced populations, specifically those from the USA (Burke and Mercurio, 2002; Zuffi and Gianneli, 2013) and the studied Croatian island population which is mainly plant-based (Herrel et al., 2008; Vervust et al., 2010).
The Natural Sources table provides further details on nutrition as found by Zuffi and Giannelli (2013).
ReferencesTop of page
Adamopoulou C, 2015. First record of Podarcis siculus (Rafinesque- Schmaltz, 1810) from Greece. Herpetozoa, 27:187-188.
Arnold EN, 2000. The gender of Podarcis and the virtues of stability, a reply to W. Bohme. Bonner zoologische Beiträge, 49(1-4):71-74.
Arnold EN, Ovenden DW, 2002. A field guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Britain and Europe. London, UK: Herper Collins, 272 pp.
Berg MPVan den , Zawadzki M, 2010. Wiederentdeckung einer fur ausgestorben geglaubten Population der Baleareneidechse, Podarcis lilfordi (Gunther, 1874) auf Illa de Ses Mones (Menorca, Balearen, Spanien) in Sympatrie mit der Ruineneidechse, Podarcis siculus (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810). (Wiederentdeckung einer fur ausgestorben geglaubten Population der Baleareneidechse, Podarcis lilfordi (Gunther, 1874) auf Illa de Ses Mones (Menorca, Balearen, Spanien) in Sympatrie mit der Ruineneidechse, Podarcis siculus (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810).) Die Eidechse, 21:65-74.
Biaggini M, Berti F, Corti C, 2009. Different habitats, different pressures? Analysis of escape behaviour and ectoparasite load in Podarcis sicula (Lacertidae) populations in different agricultural habitats. Amphibia-Reptilia, 30:453-461.
Biaggini M, Dapporto L, Paggetti E, Corti C, 2006. Distribution of lacertid lizards in a Tuscan agro-ecosystem (Central Italy). In: Mainland and insular lacertid lizards: a Mediterranean perspective [ed. by Corti, C. \Lo Cascio, P. \Biaggini, M.]. Florence, Italy: Firenze University Press, 13-21.
Blondel J, Aronson J, Bodiou JY, Boeuf H, 2010. The Mediterranean Basin - Biological Diversity in Space and Time. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 376 pp.
Bohme W, 1998. Podarcis siculus, -a, -um? - Entgegnung auf eine Entgegnung. (Podarcis siculus, -a, -um? - Entgegnung auf eine Entgegnung.) Die Eidechse, 8:101-102.
Bohme W, Kohler J, 2005. Do endings of adjective flectible species names affect stability? A final note on the gender of Podarcis Wagler, 1830 (Reptilia: Lacertidae). Bonner zoologische Beitrage, 47:187-188.
Boulenger GA, 1920. Monograph of the Lacertidae. 2 vols. London, UK: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History).
Briggler JT, Rimer RL, Deichsel G, 2015. First Record of the Northern Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus campestris) in Missouri. IRCF Reptiles and Amphibians, 22:43-45.
Bruekers J, 2003. Nieuwe vindplaats van de Italiaanse muurhagedis (Podarcis sicula sicula) in Frankrijk (Hyeres, Cote d'Azur). Lacerta, 61:203-205.
Bruekers J, 2006. Waarnemingen aan de Ruinehagedis (Podarcis sicula sicula) en de Muurgekko (Tarentola mauritanica) in Noord-Italie (Gardameer). (Waarnemingen aan de Ruinehagedis (Podarcis sicula sicula) en de Muurgekko (Tarentola mauritanica) in Noord-Italie (Gardameer).) Lacerta, 64:101-105.
Burke RL, 2010. Podarcis siculus campestris (Italian Wall Lizard). Herpetological Review, 41:514.
Burke RL, Deichsel G, 2008. Lacertid Lizards Introduced Into North America: History and Future. In: Urban Herpetology [ed. by Mitchell, J. C. \Jung-Brown, R. E.]. Salt Lake City, USA: SAAR, 347-353.
Burke RL, Hussain AA, Storey JM, Storey KB, 2002. Freeze tolerance and supercooling ability in the Italian wall lizard, Podarcis sicula, introduced to Long Island, New York. Copeia, 2002:836-842.
Burke RL, Mercurio RJ, 2002. Food habits of a New York population of Italian wall lizards, Podarcis sicula (Reptilia, Lacertidae). American Midland Naturalist, 147:368-375.
Capula M, 1993. Natural hybridization in Podarcis sícula and P. wagleriana (Reptilia: Lacertidae). Biochemical Systematics and Ecolody, 21:373-380.
Capula M, 1994. Population genetics of a colonizing lizard: Loss of variability in introduced populations of Podarcis sicula. Experentia, 50:691-696.
Capula M, 2002. Genetic evidence of natural hybridization between Podarcis sicula and Podarcis tiliguerta (Reptilia). Amphibia-Reptilia, 23:313-321.
Capula M, Luiselli L, Bologna MA, Ceccarelli A, 2002. The decline of the Aeolian wall lizard, Podarcis raffonei: causes and conservation proposals. Oryx, 36:66-72.
Carretero MA, Silva-Rocha I, 2015. La lagartija italiana (Podarcis sicula) en la Peninsula Iberica e Islas Baleares. (La lagartija italiana (Podarcis sicula) en la Peninsula Iberica e Islas Baleares.) Boletín de la Asociación Herpetológica Española, 26:87-91.
Corti C, 2006. Podarcis sicula. Lucertola campestre, Italian wall lizard. Atlas of Italian Amphibians and Reptiles. Firenze, Italy:Eds, Polistampa. In: Atlante degli Anfibi e dei Reittili d'Italia [ed. by Sindaco, R. \Doria, G. \Razzeti, E. \Bernini, F.]. Firenze, Italy: Polistampa, 486-489.
Corti C, Lo Cascio P, 2002. The lizads of Italy and Adjacent Areas, 14. Frankfurt, Germany: Chimaira, Frankfort Contributions to Herpetology, 165 pp.
Deichsel G, Nafis G, Hakim J, 2010. Podarcis siculus (Italian Wall Lizard) USA: California. Herpetological Review, 41:513-514.
Donihue CM, Lambert MR, Watkins-Colwell GJ, 2014. Podarcis sicula (Italian Wall Lizard) USA: Connecticut. Herpetological Review, 45:661-662.
Donihue CM, Lambert MR, Watkins-Colwell GJ, 2015. Podarcis sicula (Italian Wall Lizard). Habitat, invasion of suburban area of New England. Herpetological Review, 46:260-261.
Downes SJ, Bauwens D, 2002. Does Reproductive State Affect a Lizard's Behavior toward Predator Chemical Cues? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 52(6):444-450.
Foa A, Bertolucci C, 2001. Temperature cycles induce a bimodal activity pattern in ruin lizards: masking or clock-controlled event? A seasonal problem. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 16:574-584.
Goldfarb BA, Lambert MR, Donihue CM, Watkins-Colwell GJ, 2016. Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus) range extension: New York: Westchester CO.: Hastingson-Hudson. Herpetological Review, 47:82.
Gonzalez Veja JPde la , Gonzalez-Garcia JP, Garcia-Pulido T, Gonzalez-Garcia G, 2001. Podarcis sicula (Lagartija italiana), primera cita para Portugal. Boletín de la Asociación Herpetológica Española, 12:9.
Gorman GC, Soule M, YungYang S, Nevo E, 1975. Evolutionary genetics of insular Adriatic lizards. Evolution, 29:52-71.
Gossweiler WA, 1975. European lizards established on Long Island. Copeia, 1975:584-585.
Henle K, Fritz L, 2007. Ruineneidechse Podarcis sicula (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810). (Ruineneidechse Podarcis sicula (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810).) In: Die amphibien und reptilien Baden- Wurttembergs [ed. by Laufer, H. \Fritz, K. \Sowig, P.].
Henle K, Klaver CJJ, 1986. Podarcis sicula (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810) - Ruineneidechse. (Podarcis sicula (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810) - Ruineneidechse.) In: Handbuch der Amphibien und Reptilien Europas, Echsen III (Podarcis) [ed. by Bohme, W.]. Wiesbaden, Germany: Aula-Verlag, 254-342.
Herrel A, Huygue K, Vanhooydonck B, Backeljau T, Breuguelmans K, Grbac I, Damme RVan , Irschick DJ, 2008. Rapid large-scale evolutionary divergence in morphology and performance associated with exploitation of a different dietary resource. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105:4792-4795.
Hodgkins J, Davis C, Foster J, 2012. Successful rapid response to an accidental introduction of non-native lizards Podarcis siculus in Buckinghamshire, UK. Conservation Evidence, 9:63-66.
Hofer U, Dušej G, 1995. Distribution and status of the reptiles in Switzerland, a preliminary report. In: Scientia herpetologica [ed. by Llorente, G. A. \Montori, A. \Santos, X. \Carretero, M. A.]. Barcelona, Spain: Asociacion Herpetologica Espanola.
Hur H, Ugurtas IH, Isbilir A, 2008. The amphibian and reptile species of Kazdagi National Park. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 32:359-362.
Ilgaz C, Kumlutas Y, Sozen M, 2013. New locality record for Podarcis siculus hieroglyphicus (Berthold, 1842) (Squamata: Lacertidae) in the western Black Sea region of Anatolia. Turkish Journey of Zoology, 37:123-127.
Kirschbaum KL, Pauly GB, 2016. Feeding Ecology and Range Expansion of the Nonnative Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis sicula). AAAS 2016 Annual Meeting, Global Science Engagement: AJAS Session A, February 11-15. Washingdon DC, USA: AAAS.
Kolbe JJ, Lavin BR, Burke RL, Rugiero L, Capula M, Luiselli L, 2013. The desire for variety: Italian wall lizard (Podarcis siculus) populations introduced to the United States via the pet trade are derived from multiple native-range sources. Biological Invasions, 15(4):775-783. http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10530-012-0325-7
Kraus F, 2009. Invading nature: Springer series in invasion ecology 4. Springer, 563 pp.
Lever C, 2003. Naturalized reptiles and amphibians of the world. New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 344 pp.
Liwanag H, Callejas B, Labib G, Pauly GB, 2016. Thermal tolerance varies with age and gender for the non native Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis sicula) in Southern California. Annual Meeting 2016 of Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. California, USA: Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.
Lo Valvo M, Nicolini G, 2001. Presenza di una piccola popolazione di lucertola campestre Podarcis sicula (Rafinesque Schmaltz, 1810) sull'isola di Lampedusa (Isole Pelagie). Naturalista Siciliano, 25:95-97.
Martinez-Rica JP, 1967. Reptiles hallados o citados en Menorca. Revista de Menorca, 3:211-216.
Meijide M, 1981. Una nueva poblacion de Lacerta sicula Rafinesque para el norte de Espana. Acta Vertebrata, 8:304-305.
Mendyk RW, Adragna J, 2014. Notes on two introduced population of the Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus) on Staten Island, New York. IRCF Reptiles and Amphibians, 21:142-143.
Mertens R, Wermuth H, 1960. Die Amphibien und Reptilien Europas (Die Amphibien und Reptilien Europas). Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Verlag Waldemar Kramer.
Mizsei E, Uhrin M, Jablinski D, Szabolcs M, 2016. First records of the Italian wall lizard, Podarcis siculus (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810) (Squamata: Lacertidae) in Albania. Turkish Journal of Zoology (in press).
Mollov I, 2009. A new locality of the Italian wall lizard Podarcis siculus (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810) from Turkey. ZooNotes, 6:1-3.
Monti DM, Raia P, Vroonen J, Maselli V, Damme RVan , Fulgione D, 2013. Physiological change in an insular lizard population confirms the reversed Island syndrome. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 108:144-150.
Montori A, Llorente GA, 2005. Lista patron actualizada de la Herpetofauna espanola. Conclusiones de nomenclatura y taxonomia para las especies de anfibios y reptiles de Espana. Barcelona, Spain: Asociacion Espanola de Herpetologia, 46 pp.
Morgue M, 1924. Note succinte sur les especes de Lacerta muralis des iles du Golfe de Marseille. Bulletin de la Societe Linneenne de Lyon, 3:55.
Muller L, 1905. Ein neuer Fundort der Lacerta serpa Raf. Zoologischer Anzeige, 28:502-504.
Nevo E, Gorman GC, Soule M, Yang EJ, Clover R, Jovanovic V, 1972. Competitive exclusion between insular Lacerta species (Sauria, Lacertidae). Oecologia, 10:183-190.
Oliverio M, Burke R, Bologna MA, Wirz A, Mariottini P, 2001. Molecular characterization of native (Italy) and introduced (USA) Podarcis sicula populations (Reptilia, Lacertidae). Italian Journal of Zoology, 68:121-124.
Orsini JP, 1984. A propos du Lezar sicilien Podarcis sicula en Provence. Bulletin du Centre Recherche Ornithologique de Provence, 6:8.
Pascal M, Lorvelec O, Vigne JD, 2006. Invasions biologiques et extinctions: 11,000 ans d'histoire des vertebres en France (Invasions biologiques et extinctions: 11,000 ans d'histoire des vertebres en France). Paris, France: Editions Belin and Editions Quae, 350 pp.
Perez-Mellado V, 2009. Les sargantanes de les Balears (Les sargantanes de les Balears). Palma de Mallorca, Spain: Edicions Documenta Balear SL.
Podnar M, Mayer W, Tvertkovic N, 2005. Phylogeography of the Italian wall lizard, Podarcis sicula, as revealed by mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Ecology, 14:575-588.
Riley SPD, Shaffer HB, Voss SR, Fitzpatrick BM, 2003. Hybridization between a rare, native tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and its introduced congener. Ecological Applications, 13(5):1263-1275. http://www.esajournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1890%2F02-5023
Rivera X, Arribas OJ, Carranza S, Maluquer-Margalef J, 2011. An introduction of Podarcis sicula in Catalonia (NE Iberian Peninsula) on imported olive trees. Butlletí de la Societat Catalana d'Herpetologia, 19:79-85.
Salvador A, 2006. Lagartija italiana - Podarcis sicula. In: Enciclopedia Virtual de los Vertebrados Espanoles [ed. by Carrascal, L. M. \Salvador, A.]. Madrid, Spain: Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales.
Schulte U, Gebhart J, 2011. Geographic origin of a population of the Italian Wall Lizard Podarcis siculus (Rafinesque-Schmaltz,1810), introduced north of the Alps. Herpetozoa, 24:96-97.
Silva-Rocha I, Salvi D, Carretero MA, 2012. Genetic data reveal a multiple origin for the populations of the Italian wall lizard Podarcis sicula (Squamata: Lacertidae) introduced in the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands. Italian Journal of Zoology, 79(4):502-510. http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tizo20
Silva-Rocha I, Salvi D, Harris DJ, Freitas S, Davis C, Foster J, Deichsel G, Adamopoulou C, Carretero MA, 2014. Molecular assessment of Podarcis sicula populations in Britain, Greece and Turkey reinforces a multiple-origin invasion pattern in this species. Acta Herpetologica, 9(2):253-258. http://www.fupress.net/index.php/ah/article/view/14968/14220
Taggart TW, 2004. Geographic distribution. Podarcis sicula, Kandas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology, 10:10.
Tok CV, Cicek K, 2014. Amphibians and reptiles in the Province of Canakkale (Marmara Region, Turkey). Herpetozoa, 27:65-76.
Tok CV, Cicek K, Hayretdag S, Tayhan Y, Yakin BY, 2015. Range extension and morphology of the Italian wall lizard, Podarcis siculus (Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810) (Squamata: Lacertidae), from Turkey. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 39:103-109.
Tucker BJ, 1998. October activity of an Italian Wall Lizard (Podarsis sicula) community at 1880 S. Gage Boulevard, Topeka, Kansas. Unpublished Herpetology Class Term Paper. 10 pp.
Ugurtas IH, Yildirimhan HS, 2000. Two new localities for Lacerta sicula hieroglyphica Berthold, 1842 (Reptilia, Lacertidae). Turkish Journal of Zoology, 24:253-256.
Valdeon A, Perera A, Costa S, Sampaio F, Carretero MA, 2010. Evidencia de una introduccion de Podarcis sicula desde Italia a Espana asociada a una importacion de olivos (Olea europaea). Boletín de la Asociación Herpetológica Española, 21:122-126.
Valverde JA, 2005. Reyes, osos, lobos, espatulas y otros bichos (Reyes, osos, lobos, espatulas y otros bichos). Madrid, Spain: Editorial CSIC - CSIC Press, 189 pp.
Vervust B, Pafilis P, Valakos ED, Damme RVan, 2010. Anatomical and Physiological changes associated with a recent dietary shift in the lizard Podarcis sicula. Physiological & Biochemical Zoology:632-642.
Vogrin M, 2005. Sexual dimorphism in Podarcis sicula campestris. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 29:189-191.
Zawadzki M, Seemann J, 2009. Erstnachweis von Podarcis siculus campestris auf Mallorca. Die Eidechse, 20:25-28.
Zuffi MAL, Giannelli C, 2013. Trophic niche and feeding biology of the Italian wall lizard Podarcis siculus campestris (De Betta, 1857) along western Mediterranean coast. Acta Herpetoiogica, 8:35-39.