Podarcis cretensis is an endemic species of Crete and the only representative of the genus Podarcis on that island. Males can show bright colours in spring with green backs, blue spots on shoulders and yellow, orange or whitish throats.
Remarkably, this species seems to be abundant in the west but absent in the eastern part of Crete (east of the city of Rethimnon); however, it occures on several islets off Eastern Crete. The reason for this distribution gap is unknown.
Until 2007, these lizards were supposed to be a subspecies of Podarcis erhardii. But genetic analysis revealed that it is a seperate species closely related to Podarcis peloponnesiacus and Podarcis levendis.
Being the only small Lacertid on Crete, Podarcis cretensis can hardly be confused with other species. Juveniles of Lacerta trilineata differ from Podarcis cretensis by their characteristic light vertebral and dorsolateral lines.