Timon lepidus - Ocellated Lizard

Timon lepidus
Subsp. lepidus, young male: E / La Toba (Jaén), 20.09.2018 - Note the blue ocelli on the flanks.

Being the biggest European Lacertid, the Ocellated Lizard is a highlight of the European fauna. These bold reptiles with conspicious ocelli pattern are real eye-catchers. However, these shy lizards can be a challenge for photographers, sometimes: so, patience is the key.

 

The distribution range of Timon lepidus covers the extreme northwestern Italy, Southern France and the major part of the Iberian Peninsula. In southeastern Spain, the species is replaced by Timon nevadensis. Timon lepidus lives in rocky mountain habitats up to 2000 meters as well as in open agricultural landscapes and coastal dunes.

 

Besides of the nominate subspecies, two subspecies are currently recognized:

  • Subspecies ibericus, a rather small subspecies with frequently darker pattern. It inhabits the northwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula (but the transition zone between this and the nominate subspecies is poorly known).
  • Subspecies oteroi is similar. It has been described for Salvora Island in Galicia.

Timon lepidus can be distinguished from other lizards by the following characters:

  • Other green lizards (Lacerta bilineata, Lacerta schreiberi) have no blue ocelli on the flanks.
  • Juveniles of Timon lepidus show a pattern of white dots which differs from juveniles of Lacerta bilineata and Lacerta viridis (and from any other small Lacertid in the area.)
  • Juveniles of Lacerta agilis garzoni may look similar. However, Lacerta agilis garzoni only occurs in high altitude mountain habitats (Pyrenées). Therefore, syntopy of both species is questionable.
  • Timon nevadensis has no black reticulation on the back, juveniles of that species show dark edges on the labials. However, there seems to be a wide transition area.
Timon lepidus
Distribution ranges of Timon lepidus and Timon nevadensis.

Timon lepidus
Subsp. lepidus, subadult: E / La Toba (Jaén), 20.09.2018 - Subadult specimens show ocelli on the back which are dispersed in adults.
Timon lepidus
Subsp. lepidus, juvenile: E / Riópar (Albacete), 21.09.2018 - Note the brownish colouration with light dots.
Timon lepidus
Subsp. lepidus, male: E / Lago de Sanabria (Zamora), 01.09.2014 - Possibly, this population refers to subspecies ibericus.
Timon lepidus
Subsp. lepidus, juvenile: E / Lago de Sanabria (Zamora), 19.09.2017
Timon lepidus
Subsp. ibericus, male: E / O Pindo (A Coruña), 06.09.2011 - Specimens from northwestern Spain are frequently darker and smaller as the nominate subspecies.
Timon lepidus
Mountain habitat of Timon lepidus, Psammodromus algirus, Psammodromus edwarsianus and Podarcis liolepis at Javalambre (E / Teruel).