Peloponnese, 17. – 24.03.2024

A trip to Peloponnese in March – does this make sense? After an impressive week with exuberant, powerful nature, we would definitely say “yes”. Here’s what we found.

Back on Peloponnese: Ancient Corinth
Back on Peloponnese: Ancient Corinth

Malea Peninsula

After arriving in Athens, we stayed one night at Archaia Korinthos and the next morning, we headed south. A stop-over south of Tripoli brought the first lizards, Podarcis peloponnesiacus. After taking some pictures, we continued our journey towards Malea Peninsula at the south-eastern tip of Peloponnese.

The area of Neapolis Voion is a laid-back place, not too much tourism, with a beautiful landscape. We decided to explore this area, which is rarely visited by herpetologists (most people visit the famous Mani Peninsula, so Malea Peninsula has been frequently overlooked). Discovering the steep mountain slopes was quite rewarding, with loads of lizards and an amazing spring flora – plenty of program for our 4 days stay.


Neapolis is situated opposite of Elafonisi Island, which can be reached by ferry boat. So we decided to visit this place. The island is part of a Natura2000 area, but obviously no one cares about this, as there is plenty of construction, with concrete mixers seen everywhere. A little bit disappointed we went back to the quiet Malea mountains with its humid valleys, rocky hills and blooming Erica arborea forests. El Dorado for Lacertid enthusiasts…

Remarks on the “concolor” morph of Podarcis thais

The “concolor” morph, which lacks of dark markings, frequently occurs in some Podarcis species. But it has been regarded to be rare in Podarcis peloponnesiacus and Podarcis thais. Back in 2004, we observed a “concolor” specimen in the Molai area in Laconia. In 2019, TZORAS reported the record of a concolor specimen of Podarcis peloponnesiacus from the Feneos area. On our 2019 Peloponnese trip, we also came across some “concolor” specimen of Podarcis thais in southern Parnon. And during our stay on Malea Peninsula, we found that this morph frequently occurs in this area. In some populations, the percentage of “concolor” lizards may reach up to 50%. It appears that the lacking of dark markings occurs slightly higher in females than in males.


Being “concolor” should not be a selective disadvantage: With regard to anti-predation, “concolor”, i.e. stripeless, females are better camouflaged than those with normal pattern. In males, the orange throat colours, as well as the blue flanks for sure play a role for conspecific communication. However, these colours also occur in “concolor” males. So, the absence of stripes should not be a disadvantage in courtship and mating. Future research may reveal if the frequent occurrence of the “concolor” morph is restricted to the Malea area or if it is more widespread on Peloponnese.

Parnon spring flowers and dark lizards

On 22.03., we headed back north – with a longer stop-over in the southern Parnon slopes. During our stay in 2019, we had rainy weather in Parnon, but this time we were able to enjoy the amazing flora of that area in full sunshine. In our 2019 travel notes, we made a short note mentioning “very dark Hellenolacerta graeca” but weren’t able to further investigate that time. Re-visiting these places in 2024, we came across some really dark, almost melanistic specimen – stunning! Maybe, the dark colours serve for thermoregulation purposes in this mountain habitat.


We observed a group of 5 specimen, two large adults and three sub-adults obviously using the same hideout under a rock. Possibly, this species shows similar social group behavior as, for example, has been described for Iberolacerta cyreni in Spain. Our observation underlines that almost nothing is known about the social life of Hellenolacerta graeca. This is is actually surprising, as this species is widespread on Peloponnese  – an interesting field for future research.

Western Attica

We spent our last day in Western Attica, searching for Podarcis erhardii livadiacus. Finding these lizards wasn’t too easy but we finally succeeded in the Mount Kithairon area, a beautiful mountain with view over the Gulf of Corinth.


However, visiting this gorgeous place was overshadowed by the fact that habitat destruction is as serious problem in Attica. Vast parts of Western Attica have been burnt down by wildfires. For Podarcis erhardii livadiacus, which has its distribution center in Attica, this may be a problem: Its habitats in Attica are threatened by fires and the increasing urbanisation in the Athens area. Other populations on Peloponnese as well as on some smaller islands seem to be rather isolated. A quite healthy population still seems to exist on Evia. However, Evia also has been victim of extensive fires during the past years. Perspectively, with accelerating habitat destruction, Podarcis erhardii livadiacus could be at least regarded as vulnerable. Remarkably, the decrease of these lizards has already been noticed by WETTSTEIN in back in 1953: “Formerly, at the beginning of this century, abundant in the Athens area, especially at the foot of the Hymettos, this race has become so rare now, that it must be considered close to extinction” (free translation from Herpetologia aegaea, p. 702). Possibly, the remaining populations of Podarcis erhardii livadiacus should be taken into account for conservation measures.


Tzoras, E. (2019) - A concolor morph in Podarcis peloponnesiacus (Bibron & Bory, 1833) from Lake Doxa in Corinthia, Greece. -Butlletí de la Societat Catalana d’Herpetologia, Barcelona, 27: 115-118.


Wettstein, O. (1953) - Herpetologia aegaea. - Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse. Wien, Abteilung 1, 162 (9/10): 651-833. 

Bye bye, Athens!
Bye bye, Athens!