The jeweled lizard is known by a number of alternative names including the jeweled lacerta, ocellated lizard or eyed lizard.
This species is primarily carnivorous. It will feed on insects, birds and small mammals. In dry areas or where food is scarce they may also consume fruit and vegetation.
Females deposit their eggs in a shallow burrow they dig following mating. Mating may become violent.
They are threatened by habitat loss, poisoning and collection for food.
Read on to learn more about these radical reptiles.
What does the jeweled lizard look like?
Their body is colored a grey brown or greenish color with blue and yellow spots across it. On the underside they are yellow or greenish.
The head is large and well distinguished from the body.
Jeweled lizards are among the largest species of lizard found in Europe. An average length for this species is 50cm (19.75in) long though some large individuals have been recorded at up to 80cm (31.5in) long. They weigh 500g (1.1lbs).
About two thirds of this total length is in the tail.
What does the jeweled lizard eat?
The jeweled lizard is a carnivore. They primarily feed on insects but may also consume eggs, small mammals, birds and amphibians. On occasion they may feed on fruits, flowers and carrion.
Adults may cannibalize their young.
Credit: Public Domain
Where can you find the jeweled lizard?
Europe is the native home of the jeweled lizard. Here they can be found in the following countries – France; Italy; Portugal and Spain.
They also occur on a number of islands within the Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans.
What kind of environment does the jeweled lizard live in?
These animals are found in woodland and scrubland habitats. Where they live near humans they may inhabit olive groves, vineyards and other arable areas.
They will make use of sheltered areas such as bushes, stone walls and burrows.
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How does the jeweled lizard produce its young?
These animals come together to mate during the breeding season which occurs in spring. Mating can occasionally become violent.
During this period the males will become violent towards any other animals within their habitat.
A female will deposit a clutch of between 5 and 20 eggs. These are laid two to three months following mating. They are laid in a small tunnel dug by the female.
Sexual maturity is reached at three years old.
In captivity this species has been seen to lay two clutches within a year.
What does the jeweled lizard do with its day?
This species is primarily found on the ground but can climb wall crevices to escape predators.
They are mostly active during the day. In summer this species may become partly nocturnal in an effort to avoid the heat of the day. During autumn and winter they will enter a period of inactivity but they may be seen on warmer days.
These animals are solitary and will only come together to mate.
Credit: Public Domain
Predators and Threats
What is impacting the survival of the jeweled lizard?
Predators of the jeweled lizard include mongoose, storks and raptors.
Natural predation of this species is likely increasing as rabbit numbers are declining across their range.
Numbers of jeweled lizards are considered to be in decline. In some small areas of their range they are considered to be close to extinction.
Their numbers are declining as a result of habitat loss and poisoning.
This species was previously considered a delicacy and widely consumed. Efforts to restore this practice are an emerging threat to this species which may effect them in to the future.
They may also be known as the ocellated lizard, jeweled lacerta or eyed lizard.
Two subspecies are recognized with one occurring only on Salvora Island off the coast of Spain.
These lizards are the largest Lacertid in Europe.
Credit: Public Domain
Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.
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