Darevskia praticola - Meadow Lizard

Darevskia praticola
Male: RO / Eșelnița (Orșova), 01.06.2013 - These lizards often hide in litter.

Imagine a lizard so small that it can use a dry beech leaf as a deck chair - There you have Darevskia praticola! Basically, the genus Darevskia comprises over 30 species, mainly in the Caucasus area, with Darevskia praticola subsp. pontica being its only representative in our area.

 

In our area, it occurs in southern Romania, parts of Serbia, eastern Bulgaria, the extreme northeast of Greece and the European part of Turkey.

The Meadow Lizard is an inconspicuous, ground-dwelling species which prefers habitats with dense vegetation: We found it in meadows but also in forests, where it often hides in leaf litter.

Within its distribution area, it may be confused with the following species:

  • Zootoca vivipara looks similar. But it has – if at all – a narrow dark vertebral line, whereas Darevskia praticola shows a broad vertebral streak with dark edges – sometimes this looks like a double line on the back. The latter one has a whitish, yellow or greenish underside which is frequently orange at Zootoca vivipara. In Eastern Europe, Zootoca vivipara seems to be limited to mountain habitats whereas Darevskia praticola lives in lower altitudes. So, cases of syntopy should be rare.
  • Podarcis muralis usually has a narrow vertebral line, which is frequently interrupted into single spots. It has a white or orange throat with dark spots whereas Darevskia praticola has a whitish unspotted throat. Podarcis muralis is significantly bigger than Darevskia praticola, which becomes obvious where both species live in syntopy.
  • confusion with Podarcis tauricus and Podarcis erhardii cannot be excluded. However, both species can be distinguished from Darevskia praticola by not showing a dark vertebral line.
Darevskia praticola
The range of Darevskia praticola on the Northern Balkans.

Darevskia praticola
Male: RO / Eșelnița (Orșova), 01.06.2013 - Note the broad vertebral streak.
Darevskia praticola
Male: RO / Mănăstirea Vodița (Orșova), 01.06.2013 - Darevskia praticola has whitish, unspotted throats.
The forests along the Danube valley upstream of Dobreta Turnu Severin (Romania) are habitat for Darevskia praticola and Lacerta viridis.
The forests along the Danube valley upstream of Dobreta Turnu Severin (Romania) are habitat for Darevskia praticola and Lacerta viridis.