Status: Near Threatened
Adults are usually between 1-2 feet long but can grow to 3ft. They are the largest lizard in their family and the largest lizard in Europe. There tail is responsible for around 2/3 of their total length. This is a robust lizard with a serrated collar. The male has a characteristic broad head. It has thick, strong legs, with long, curved claws. The dorsal background color is usually green, but sometimes grey or brownish, especially on the head and tail. This is overlaid with black stippling that may form a bold pattern of interconnected rosettes. The underside is yellowish or greenish. The male is brighter in color than the female and has blue spots on its flanks; there are fewer or none in the female. Young are green, grey, or brown, with yellowish or white, often black-edged, spots all over. (eol.org)
Habitat/Range: They are common throughout Spain and Portugal, and they are less commonly found in southern France and North Western Italy in isolated populations.
They are terrestrial and commonly found in open and dry areas such as wooded areas, scrub lands, olive groves, vineyards, meadows and also rocky or sandy sights on the Atlantic coast and on some isolated islands off the coast of Portugal.
Diet in Wild: Mainly large insects such as beetles. Will also eat eggs and chicks out of bird nests and may occasionally take small mammals. In dryer areas they will also eat plant matter and fruit.
Diet in Zoo: crickets and super worms
Predators: Larger animals, birds. Due to the decline of rabbit populations predators are feeding on this species more.
Life Cycle/ Social Structure: Breeding occurs in late spring or early summer. The males will become territorial and fight during the breeding season. They have a clutch size of a maximum of 22 eggs and they lay their eggs about three months after mating. They will hide their eggs under stones and logs or in loose soil or leaf litter. In dryer climates they will lay fewer and larger eggs. Eggs usually hatch between 8-14 weeks after being laid. Sexually mature at the age of two.
They are diurnal and hibernate from November to March each year.
Life Span: 10-15 years
- Largest lizard in Europe
- Considered a delicacy in the Extremadura region of Spain. Called Lagarto con Tomate. Slices of the lizard are fried in olive oiled and served with stewed tomatoes.
Conservation Message: Declining population mainly due to habitat destruction. Also threatened by increased predation because of decreased rabbit populations. Common in the pet trade and can be taken out of wild populations which will aid to the decreasing population trends. They are also considered to be a delicacy in parts of Spain which also could lead to a decrease in population size.
What You Can Do: Before buying a pet make sure you research the particular animal and see if you are capable of taking care of the animal. Also make sure that the animal that you are considering is not coming out of wild population. Also because they are commonly eaten in a southern region of Spain, be careful when traveling. Know which local dishes are sustainable.