Lacerta trilineata - Balkan Green Lizard

Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. trilineata, male: GR / Santomeri, 19.04.2019: In contrast to Lacerta viridis, Lacerta trilineata may have bluish necks and flanks, but no blue heads.

Lacerta trilineata is the biggest Green Lizard. Coming across these lizards is always an impressive encounter. It occurs along the Adriatic coast, the Southern Balkans, Crete and some Greek Islands. The fromer subspecies citrovittata from the Central Cyclades has been put into species rank as well as the eastern subspecies diplochondrodes, cariensis and dobrogica, which are now referred to Lacerta diplochondrodes*. Note, that the contact zone of Lacerta trilineata and Lacerta diplochondrodes in Greece and Bulgaria is poorly known.

 

Lacerta trilineata lives in areas with dense vegetation from sea level to the mountains up to at least 1500 meters (e.g. Crete).

Currently, four subspecies are recognized:

  • Subsp. trilineata - Southern Balkans and several Greek Islands
  • Subsp. major - Adriatic Coast from Istria to Western Greece
  • Subsp. hansschweizeri - Milos, Sifnos, Serifos
  • Subsp. polylepidota - Crete and Kythira

The validity of subspecies major seems to be doubtful. On the other hand, Lacerta trilineata trilineata on Peloponnese, shows an wide genetic variability which requires further research.

 

Males of Lacerta viridis, which may co-occur with Lacerta trilineata, frequently show bright blue heads in spring. In contrast to this, Lacerta trilineata may have bluish necks but no blue heads.

 

Juveniles of Lacerta trilineata frequently show light dorsolateral lines and a light vertebral line. In contrast to this, Lacerta viridis has no vertebral line. The light vertebral line also distinguishs juveniles of Lacerta trilineata from other small Lacertids (e.g. Podarcis species).

Distribution Lacerta trilineata
The distribution range of Lacerta trilineata covers the Adriatic coast, the Southern Balkans and Crete.

Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. trilineata, male: GR / Rio, 20.04.2019 - Note the massive head of this big male.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. major: GR / Parga, 07.06.2009 - Specimens from Western Greece and the Adriatic Coast are similar to the nominate susbpecies but slightly bigger. Possibly, this subspecies is invalid.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. major, juvenile: GR / Corfu - Note the light dorsolateral and the light vertebral line.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. hansschweizeri, male: GR / Serifos, 18.04.2018 - This subspecies frequently shows pale, yellowish colours.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. hansschweizeri, female: GR / Serifos, 18.04.2018 - Females have smaller heads than males (see above).
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. polylepidota: GR / Kithyra, 04.06.2011 - This subspecies looks similar to the nominate subspecies.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. polylepidota: GR / Crete, 11.04.2012 - A specimen basking on a fishing net.
Lake Amvrakia (GR / Etoloakarnania): Habitat of Lacerta trilineata and Algyroides nigropunctatus
Lake Amvrakia (GR / Etoloakarnania): Habitat of Lacerta trilineata and Algyroides nigropunctatus

* See: Kornilios P, Thanou E, Lymberakis P, Ilgaz Ç, Kumlutaş Y, Leaché A. A phylogenomic resolution for the taxonomy of Aegean green lizards. Zool Scr. 2019;00:1–14