Podarcis raffonei - Aeolian Wall Lizard

Podarcis raffonei
Subspecies raffonei, male: I / Strombolicchio, 29.05.2016 - A small dragon!

Dragons, as is commonly known, live on volcanos - this also applies for the Aeolian Wall Lizard, a species which only occurs on the volcanic Aeolian Islands north of Sicily. With their dark colours and wrinkled throats, these strange lizards indeed resemble to small dragons!

Unfortunately, the occurrence of this species has been reduced to only a few residual populations: the uninhabited rocky islets La Canna (off Filicudi), Scoglio Faraglione (off Salina) and Strombolicchio (off Stromboli). The remaining population on Vulcano Island has literally collapsed within the last 30 years.

 

It must be supposed that the Aeolian Wall Lizard has been crowded out on the main islands by introduced Podarcis siculus, which are now omnipresent on the whole archipelago. Tourism and construction in its natural habitats may have contributed to the extinction of Podarcis raffonei. Overall, it seems to be critically endangered.


The nominate subspecies lives on Strombolicchio. The other populations are referred to subspecies alvearioi. On Vulcano, this species can be distinguished from Podarcis siculus by its dark spots on the throat. Furthermore, Podarcis siculus has green backs, whereas Podarcis raffonei on Vulcano has brown backs. Anyhow, the spreading Podarcis siculus has hybridized with the native lizards. Hence, specimens with intermediate characteristics can be found.

Podarcis raffonei
The distribution of Podarcis raffonei raffonei is limited to Strombolicchio rock off Stromboli. Subsp. alvearioi occurs on Vulcano, la Canna (a rock at Filicudi Island) and Scoglio Faraglione (near Salina Island).

Podarcis raffonei
Subspecies raffonei, male: I / Strombolicchio, 29.05.2016 - The nominate subspecies shows a dark coloration.
Podarcis raffonei
Subspecies raffonei, male: I / Strombolicchio, 29.05.2016 - Note the slightly greenish back.
Podarcis raffonei
Subspecies raffonei, female: I / Strombolicchio, 29.05.2016 - Females show rusty reddish colours.
Podarcis raffonei
Subspecies raffonei, juvenile: I / Strombolicchio, 29.05.2016 - Note the reddish tail.
Podarcis raffonei
Subspecies alvearioi: I / Vulcano, 27.05.2016 - Note the dark blotches on the throat.
Podarcis raffonei
Strombolicchio rock off Stromboli (Italy) as seen from a boat - home of Podarcis raffonei raffonei.