Hierro giant lizard (Gallotia simonyi)

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Hierro giant lizard
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Hierro giant lizard fact file

Hierro giant lizard description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyLacertidae
GenusGallotia (1)

The Hierro giant lizard is a stocky reptile with a broad head and pronounced jowls (flesh under the lower jaw). It is dark grey to brown in colour, with two rows of pale orange patches running along its sides. The belly is mostly brown with orange to red colouration towards the centre. Female sub-adults have grey backs with four rows of blackish patches and two rows of orange-green marks on the side. Older individuals are mainly black with some grey (2). Males are larger (5).

French
Lézard De Simony.
Spanish
Lagarto Gigante De El Hierro.
Size
Length: 58 cm (2)
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Hierro giant lizard biology

The Hierro giant lizard is an omnivorous lacertid which feeds voraciously on two main plant species, Kleinia neriifolia and Lavandula abrotanoides as well as insects (2). Courtship begins in May and involves males bobbing their heads with their throats inflated. Clutches of between 5 and 13 eggs are laid from June until the end of August. The eggs hatch after 61 days of incubation at 28 – 29 ºC (5).

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Hierro giant lizard range

The Hierro giant lizard is restricted to the Canary Islands, Spain (1).

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Hierro giant lizard habitat

This is a terrestrial lizard, living on a small, young volcanic island in rocky habitats (1) (6).

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Hierro giant lizard status

The Hierro giant lizard is classified as Critically Endangered (CR B1 + 2e, C2b) on the IUCN Red List 2003 (1) and is listed on Appendix I of CITES (3). It is also listed on Annex IV of the European Species Directive (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered

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Hierro giant lizard threats

Feral rats and cats pose the most serious threat to this lizard. Poisons used for pest control seem to be inadvertently affecting the lizard population (7).

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Hierro giant lizard conservation

Plans for conservation of this species are not extensive. The United Nations and the Canary Islands Autonomous Government funded a program for the captive breeding and re-introduction of the Hierro giant lizard to its original natural habitat. This management plan began in late 1997 and ran until early 2000 (7) (8). Juveniles are more suitable for re-introduction as the sprint escape performance of the adult lizard is diminished by prolonged captivity (9).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on lizard species see:

Halliday, T. and Alder, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Lacertid
Old World terrestrial lizard.
Re-introduction
Putting an animal or plant into an area where the species or sub-species previously lived but from which they are locally extinct - usually referring to projects aiming to re-establish self-perpetuating populations.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2004)
    http://www.redlist.org
  2. Herpetology (October, 2004)
    http://www.nafcon.dircon.co.uk/gallotia.html
  3. CITES (October, 2004)
    https://www.cites.org
  4. Societas Europaea Herpetologica (October, 2004)
    http://www.gli.cas.cz/SEH/
  5. Rodriguez-Dominguez, M.A. and Molina-Borja, M. (1998) Reproduction of the endangered Hierro giant lizard Gallotia simonyi machadoi. Journal of Herpetology, 32(4): 498 - 504.
  6. UNESCO (October, 2004)
    http://www.unesco.org/mab/br/focus/April01/spain.htm
  7. The Giant Lizard of La Gomera (October, 2004)
    http://www.gobiernodecanarias.org/medioambiente/lagartodelagomera/vinglesa.html
  8. Canary Islands Department of the Environment (October, 2004)
    http://www.gobcan.es/medioambiente/eng/biodiversidad/ceplam/vidasilvestre/life7.html
  9. Cejudo, D. and Marquez, R. (2001) Sprint performance in the lizards Gallotia simonyi and Gallotia stehlini: Implications for species management. Herpetologica, 57(1): 87 - 98.
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Image credit

Hierro giant lizard  
Hierro giant lizard

© Jose B. Ruiz / naturepl.com

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