Bedriaga’s rock lizard (Archaeolacerta bedriagae)
|French:||Lezard De Bedriaga|
Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1), listed on Annex III of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (2), and Annex IV of the EC Habitats Directive (3).
Bedriaga’s rock lizard is a member of the Lacertidae family, a diverse group of reptiles that are sometimes called the ‘true lizards’ (4). With its long, flattened body, powerful, well-developed limbs and elongated toes, the agile Bedriaga’s rock lizard is built for speed (4) (5). Small scales cover the robust trunk, tail, and neck, becoming larger on the conical-shaped head (5). Adults are typically a brownish-grey, with a dark lined net pattern on the back. During the breeding season, the smaller male develops a blue belly, with blue spots on the sides, and the net pattern fades into a scattering of white spots. Juveniles are distinguished by a bright blue tail (6).
Bedriaga’s rock lizard has a fragmented distribution across the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia. It is also found on some smaller, neighbouring islands, including Foloca Island, France, the Maddalena Archipelago, and the Isola Rossa di Trinita' d'Agulto, Italy (1). Its distribution varies depending on the season and it is typically absent from areas with extremely high summer temperatures (7).
As its common name suggests, Bedriaga’s rock lizard inhabits rocky areas, largely between 550 and 2,250 metres above sea level, although there are a few coastal populations (1). This species is often found in the same areas as the lizard Podarcis tiliguerta, but Bedriaga’s rock lizard prefers higher slopes with less vegetation, and a high abundance of large stones (8).
This diurnal lizard is typically seen basking on large stones, close to the refuge of a rocky crevice (8). Feeding on insect prey, Bedriaga’s rock lizard will climb vertical surfaces and even jump off the ground to catch flying insects, a unique behaviour amongst the Lacertid lizards (5) (6). During the breeding season, three to six eggs are laid and abandoned by the female (1) (4). Once developed, the juvenile lizards use a forward-pointing egg-tooth, which is later shed, to break through the shell (4).
Restricted to just a few Mediterranean islands, Bedriaga’s rock lizard is highly vulnerable to the loss and degradation of its rocky habitat. At high altitudes on Corsica, where the species’ habitat is still relatively prevalent, Bedriaga’s rock lizard does not appear to be threatened, and the population is relatively stable (1). However, on Sardinia the species’ habitat has a somewhat patchy distribution, and many populations are isolated. Consequently, these populations have a greater extinction risk, especially as the climate becomes increasingly unpredictable due to climate change (7). On both islands, Bedriaga’s rock lizard is further threatened by the tourist industry encroaching upon its habitat, and the species is now less abundant in the lowland areas of its range (1).
Bedriaga’s rock lizard is protected by both regional and national legislation, and on Sardinia, where the species is particularly sensitive to habitat loss, strict regulations aim to preserve populations. This vulnerable species is also afforded sanctuary in several reserves throughout its range (1).
For more information on reptile conservation, see:
The International Reptile Conservation Fund:
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- Diurnal: active during the day.
IUCN Red List (April, 2010)
Council of Europe: Bern Convention (April, 2010)
Council of Europe: Habitats Directive (April, 2010)
- Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
The J. Craig Venter Reptile Database (April, 2010)
ZipcodeZoo (April, 2010)
- Bombi, P., Salvi, D., Vignoli, L. and Bologna, M.A. (2009) Modelling Bedriaga’s rock lizard distribution in Sardinia: An ensemble approach. Amphibia-Reptilia, 30: 413-424.
- Bombi, P., Salvi, D., Luca, L. and Bologna, M.A. (2009) Modelling correlates of microhabitat use of two sympatric lizards: A model selection approach. Animal Biology, 59: 109-126.