Lacerta viridis - Eastern Green Lizard

Lacerta viridis
Subsp. viridis, male: RO / Nera Gorge, 31.05.2013 - An extraordinary beautiful male.

Eastern Green Lizards are impressive encourters with males frequently showing deep blue heads in spring.

 

Their distribution area ranges over the Balkan Peninsula (south to Central Greece) and the Danube river system to the Black Sea Coast. Some isolated populations exist in Central Europe. This species lives in areas with sufficient vegetation and sometimes is also abundant inside of forests (e.g. in Romania).

 

Lacerta viridis may be confused with the following species:

  • Lacerta trilineata looks similar but males show no bright blue heads. Juveniles (and sometimes females) of Lacerta trilineata have a light vertebral line which lacks in Lacerta viridis. Lacerta viridis has shorter heads with rather blunt snouts.
  • Lacerta viridis may also co-occur with Lacerta agilis (e.g. in Romania) which is smaller with a compact body.
  • Distinguishing between Lacerta bilineata and Lacerta viridis in their contact zone may turn out to be impossible (see discussion at Lacerta bilineata).

Besides of the nominate subspecies, the following subspecies occur in our area:

  • Subspecies guentherpetersi lives in mountains in Central Greece (Ossa) and on Evia. It's a big morphe with males having greenish instead of blue throats.
  • Subspecies meridionalis is actually a Turkish subspecies which shows a characteristic colouration with brownish tails and hind limbs. In Europe, it seems to be restricted to a few areas in Eastern Greece and European Turkey. Specimens from the Bulgarian and Romanian Black Sea Coast may look similar but maybe, these are just an ecotype (an adaption to sparse and dry habitats) of the nominate subspecies.
  • The populations along the Adriatic coast from Pindos in the south to Friaul / Italy in the north are referred to the “Adria Clade” which in genetic respect differs substantially from the nominate subspecies. However, they cannot be distinguished by external characters.
Lacerta viridis
The distribution ranges of Lacerta bilineata and Lacerta viridis (for contact zones, see discussion at Lacerta bilineata).

Lacerta viridis
Subsp. viridis, female: RO / Orsova, 29.05.2013 - Note the whitish throat.
Lacerta viridis
Subsp. viridis, juvenile: RO / Orsova, 30.05.2013 - Juveniles of Lacerta viridis usually have whitish throats.
Lacerta viridis
"Adria Clade", male: GR / Corfu, 03.06.2017 - This clade cannot be distinguished from the nominate subspecies by external characters.
Lacerta viridis
Subsp. guentherpetersi, male: GR / Evia, 02.06.2012 - This subspecies has no blue throat and is more robustly built than the nominate subspecies.
Lacerta viridis
Subsp. meridionalis, male: GR / Chalkidiki, 16.06.2009 - Note the green back and the brownish tail and hind limbs.
Lacerta viridis
The Nera Valley in Western Romania - an excellent habitat for Lacerta viridis.