Common Wall Lizard
- up to 20 cm long
- females are grey-brown with light green speckle pattern
- males have black and green spots across the back, and young are coppery gold
- scales on the back are hard to see without close inspection or magnifying glass
- tail is brown, grey or rust coloured and may have light bars on the sides
- belly region has six rows of larger rectangular scales that are generally red, pink, or orange.
- may also have dark markings on the throat
A released zoo animal that has made itself at home.
The Common Wall Lizard, sometimes known as the European Wall Lizard, is a tiny invader that has made its home on Vancouver Island, sharing the same general range as one native British Columbia lizard. You may see Wall Lizards basking in the sun near rocks and other large objects that serve as cover, or you might catch a glimpse of one hiding in long grasses or other vegetation.
Impact on Communities and Native Species
Vancouver Island has a native lizard, the Northern Alligator Lizard that shares space with the Common Wall Lizard. The two species seem to co-exist, though the Common Wall Lizard is a new competitor in the ecosystem, preying on the same food, but living in slightly different habitat than the native species. The only real difference in habitat preference is that the Wall Lizards seem to occupy disturbed habitat near humans, while Alligator Lizards prefer undisturbed natural environments.
The Common Wall Lizard is European in origin, but it was introduced to Vancouver Island in the 1970s when a handful of lizards were released from a small, private zoo that had closed. Since then, these lizards have spread throughout southeastern Vancouver Island, possibly with human help by catching a ride on farm equipment, horse trailers or in shipments of hay.