Credit: Sandy Rae, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Wild 15 years
Captive 15 years
The Atlantic lizard is found exclusively on the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.
These lizards are considered omnivores. Across most of their range they feed on insects and carrion. On lave fields where these food sources are rare they rely on plants. These individuals are typically larger.
Males will inflate their throat and approach female while trying to impress them.
This species is considered common. Some are threatened through habitat loss and deforestation.
Read on to learn more about these remarkable reptiles.
What does the Atlantic Lizard look like?
Atlantic lizards are sexually dimorphic meaning the appearance of the male and female differs. The male is covered by black scales with blue blobs present along their sides. A black patch is often present under the chin.
Females and young by comparison are covered by a drab pattern of green and brown scales.
An average Atlantic lizard will measure 22cm (8.75in) long.
What does the Atlantic Lizard eat?
These lizards are omnivores. They will feed on invertebrates and scavenge for the remains of small birds and other prey which have been discarded by birds and other predators.
In small areas of their range they will feed on plants including fruit and flowers. This is mainly on the areas of the lava flow where insects are rare.
Animals living in these areas are often larger as they need to consume more plants to generate the energy they need to survive.
Credit: Public Domain
Where can you find the Atlantic Lizard?
The Atlantic lizard is found exclusively on the Canary Islands. They are recorded on the islands of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Lobos, La Graciosa, Montana Clara and Roque del Este.
A small introduced population of the species has established on eastern Gran Canaria Island having been taken from Lanzarote.
What kind of environment does the Atlantic Lizard live in?
These animals make their home in forest, shrubland and rocky habitats. They are also seen in coastal sandy areas. Some are seen in human inhabited areas including fields and urban areas.
They can be found on barren lava fields only not occurring on those which have resulted from recent volcanic activity.
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How does the Atlantic Lizard produce its young?
Males seeking a mate will bob their head, approach them slowly and inflate their throats. If successful the male will quickly begin mating with the female.
A month after the pair mate the female will deposit her clutches of eggs. Each can include between 10 and 15 eggs. Each year a female can produce two to three clutches of eggs.
The young will hatch after seven to ten weeks of incubation.
Sexual maturity is reached at 1 year old.
What does the Atlantic Lizard do with its day?
These animals are active during the day when they will be seen foraging or when they bask in the sun. Often they bask close to their burrow in to which they can retreat if they are threatened.
Credit: Chmee2, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Predators and Threats
What is impacting the survival of the Atlantic Lizard?
These lizards are generally considered to be abundant throughout their habitat.
As a whole the population is stable and faces no major threats. The introduced individuals on Gran Canaria have been declining due to the urbanization relating from habitat loss.
They are vulnerable to habitat loss and introduced predators. This is worse in areas where there has been recent lava flows.
This species was first described for science in 1882.
Five subspecies of this lizard are recognized.
Credit: Thorsten Denhard, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.
The Reptile Database. 2021. Gallotia atlantica. [online] Available at: <https://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Gallotia&species=atlantica> [Accessed 30 November 2021].
Jose Antonio Mateo Miras, Valentin Pérez-Mellado, Iñigo Martínez-Solano. 2009. Gallotia atlantica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T61500A12492064. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T61500A12492064.en. Downloaded on 30 November 2021.
Jungledragon.com. 2021. Atlantic lizard (Gallotia atlantica) – JungleDragon. [online] Available at: <https://www.jungledragon.com/specie/21765/atlantic_lizard.html> [Accessed 30 November 2021].
Online-field-guide.com. 2021. Tokay Gecko. [online] Available at: <http://online-field-guide.com/Gallotiaatlantica.htm> [Accessed 30 November 2021].