Carbonell's wall lizard (Podarcis carbonelli)

Synonyms: Podarcis bocagei ssp. carbonelli, Podarcis carbonellae
GenusPodarcis (1)
SizeMale average snout-vent length: 5 cm (2)
Female average snout-vent length: 4.9 cm (2)

Carbonell’s wall lizard is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

Described as recently as 2002, Carbonell’s wall lizard (Podarcis carbonelli) is a relatively small, compact lizard that is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula (3). A fairly robust species, with a short head and body, Carbonell’s wall lizard is generally brown on the back, with a series of small black or brown marks and patterns (4).

During the breeding season, the male Carbonell’s wall lizard has conspicuous bright green, jagged-edged stripes on the back, as well as bright green sides (2) (3) (4) (5). The male may also have several blue or green spots on the outer edge of the belly (2). The female usually lacks any bright green colouration, but may occasionally be seen with dull green, yellow or ochre stripes, similar to the immature male (2). Both the male and female Carbonell’s wall lizards are usually whitish on the belly, sometimes with shades of pink or red. The belly of the female is also commonly yellowish (2) (5).

Endemic to the Iberian Peninsula, Carbonell’s wall lizard occurs in highly fragmented populations in western and central Portugal, as well as on the Berlenga Islands. In Spain, this species has been recorded in Salamanca and Cáceres provinces in the West Central System, along with an isolated population in Doñana (1) (2) (3) (4) (6). 

A ground-dwelling species, Carbonell’s wall lizard occurs frequently in forest and forest clearings, particularly in oak forests, as well as on sand dunes, coastal cliffs and scrubby mountainous areas (1) (2). It is found from sea level up to 1,200 metres (2).

Carbonell’s wall lizard is an active predator, seeking a wide variety of arthropod prey, such as beetles and spiders, which it captures on the ground. Courtship and mating usually takes place from March to early July (2). The female Carbonell’s wall lizard lays one to three clutches a year, each containing between one and five eggs (1) (2). The eggs hatch from late July to the end of September, and the young juveniles reach sexual maturity in their first year (2).

Several threats to Carbonell’s wall lizard have been identified, including degradation and loss of its habitat due to forest fires, development for tourism and the replacement of natural forest with wood plantations (1) (2) (3). This species is also likely to be at risk from climate change, especially in the more southern populations (1).

The population of Carbonell’s wall lizard on the Berlenga Islands has apparently suffered a decline due to the increase in the population of the yellow-legged gull (Larus cachinnans) which preys on this species (2). Populations in the north of its range may be vulnerable to hybridisation with another wall lizard species, Podarcis bocagei (3). In addition, agricultural fertilisers which contaminate soil have also been shown to affect the breeding success of this species, by increasing embryo mortality (2). 

Carbonell’s wall lizard occurs in several national parks, including the Coto Donana National Park (1).

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  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
  2. Sá-Sousa, P. (2009). Lagartija de Carbonell – Podarcis carbonelli. In: Salvador, A., Marco, A. (Eds.) Enciclopedia Virtual de los Vertebrados Españoles. Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid.
  3. Figueirinhas do Amaral, M.C. (2009) Assessment of the endangered species Podarcis carbonelli on a microgeographic scale: A molecular, morphological and physiological approach. Masters Thesis, Western Kentucky University.
  4. The Reptile Database - Podarcis carbonelli (April, 2011)
  5. Sá-Sousa, P. and Harris, J. (2002) Podarcis carbonelli Pérez-Mellado, 1981 is a distinct species. Amphibia-Reptilia, 23: 459-468.
  6. Kaliontzopoulou, A., Carretero, M.A. and Sillero, N. (2010) Geographic patterns of morphological variation in the lizard Podarcis carbonelli, a species with fragmented distribution. Herpetological Journal, 20: 41-50.