An adult from Shawnee County. Image © Travis W. Taggart
An adult Italian Wall Lizard from Shawnee County, KS. © Katie Van Blaricum.
An adult Italian Wall Lizard from Shawnee County, Kansas. © Lisa Wehrly.
REPTILIA (Reptiles) SQUAMATA (PART) (Other Lizards) LACERTIDAE (Lacertas and Wall Lizards)

Italian Wall Lizard
Podarcis siculus (Rafinesque-Schmaltz 1810)
pō-dăr-sĭs — sĭk-ū-lĭs


Conservation Status:

State: None

Federal: None
NatureServe State: SNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None
Diagnosis:
The Italian Wall Lizard, which is not native to our state, is characterized by four limbs, an ear opening on each side of the head, smooth granular scales on the back which are much smaller than those on the belly, and scales on the belly in six rows. The head, neck, and upper body are most often green with a brownish mid-dorsal stripe or row of spots, though some individuals may exhibit a more subdued pattern of dark reticulations on a green, olive, or light brown ground color; blue spots sometimes are present on the shoulder. The throat and belly are uniform white or gray. The tail is brown or gray. Adult males grow longer and have a larger head than females.
Adults normally 140-203 mm (5½-8 inches) in total length. The largest specimen from Kansas is a male (KU 223462) from Shawnee County with a snout-vent length of 76 mm and a total length of 212 mm (8­5⁄8 inches). It was collected by James Gubanyi in July 1996. The maximum length throughout the native range is 241.3 mm (9½ inches) (Powell et al., 2016).

Distribution:
Kansas populations of this non-native species are well-established in Topeka, Hays, and Lawrence. An April 2020 observation of an individual Italian Wall Lizard in Olathe is in the process of being properly documented. Reports of isolated populations of this lizard in Oxford await verification. The Italian Wall Lizard is a habitat generalist and can be found in a wide variety of ecosystems. Generally, it prefers structurally complex habitats with lush grasses and shrubs. It is known for living at high densities in human-dominated landscapes, particularly on walls (the source of its common name), and will often be seen basking on rock walls or wooden fences with nearby hiding spots.
The Italian Wall Lizard is native to the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, and the north Adriatic coast. It has been introduced into the Mediterranean Islands, Iberian Peninsula, Greece, and Turkey to the UK, North Africa, and the USA. In the USA it has been successfully introduced in California, Connecticut, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York (Briggler 2015; and references therein), and Kansas (Topeka, Lawrence, and Hays).
(,   Museum Voucher) (,   Observation) (,   Literature Record) (,   iNat Record), (  Fossil)
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Full range depicted by light shaded red area. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 424
    Records 
  • 223
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 201
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Douglas (121); Ellis (94); Johnson (20); Shawnee (189);

Fossil History:
Not known from Kansas.

Natural History:
They persist in urban areas where there are abundant places for them to hide. They are active on warm days from February through November and eat a variety of invertebrate prey. They have not been documented outside of heavily disturbed urban habitats in Kansas. They should be considered introduced, alien, and/or exotic, however, there is no evidence that they are invasive in Kansas. In Europe, some introduced populations are considered invasive, due to the threat of hybridization with sympatric congeners.
In its native range, the Italian Wall Lizard prefers a wide variety of habitats, including ruins, parks, gardens, and open grassy areas. In urban Topeka, it chooses piles of rubble, wood, and other detritus, often in close proximity of buildings and automobile traffic. There are excellent climbers and can often be found several meters up on building to reach sunlight in which to bask.
This lizard is active by day, foraging around rock rubble and along the walls of buildings, and will quickly retreat into the nearest crack or beneath shelter (e.g., ground air conditioning units, etc.) when chased. In Kansas, it is generally active from May to September and spends the rest of the year inactive beneath rubble, cement slabs, or in the foundation cracks of buildings. Italian Wall Lizards are fast, nervous animals, and their movements greatly resemble those of our native Six-lined Racerunner.
Nothing is known of courtship and mating behavior for this species in Kansas. Italian Wall Lizards probably mate in May and early June in our state. Males have been reported to intimidate each other with postures that include tilting the head down, pushing the throat out, and flattening the trunk of the body.
Female Italian Wall Lizards probably nest in June or July, and the eggs are presumably buried a few inches beneath soil and hatch in one or two months. Each female lays one to four white eggs.
Italian Wall Lizards eat small insects and often ingest vegetation.
In Kansas, predators of the Italian Wall Lizard probably include domestic cats, other small mammals, and birds (Collins 1993).

Occurrence Activity:
Number of Unique Obervations (=days): 156; Range: 27 Jan to 23 Dec
Remarks:
Populations of the Italian Wall Lizard and the Western Green Lacerta are the product of an introduction from the former Quivira Specialties biological supply house of Topeka at 21st and Gage Boulevard (Jim Gubanyi, pers. comm.). Subsequently, populations have become established in Hays (since 1998) and Lawrence (north of the Kansas River; since 1999; and around the University of Kansas since 2001).
Since its introduction, the Italian Wall Lizard has expanded its range within the city limits of Topeka and can now be expected throughout the SW quarter of the city.
Briggler (2015) reported on the first established colony in Missouri (Joplin). That population was established in 2001-2002 from escaped animals collected from the Topeka population.
Italian Wall Lizards have been reported to be invasive when introduced to Mediterranean islands where native congeners are present. There is no evidence they are invasive in Kansas. Larry Miller (pers. comm.; Oliverio et al. 2001) reported successful and unsuccessful predation attempts on Podarcis siculus by native Great Plains Skinks (Plestiodon obsoletus) where the P. siculus approached the edge of the urban environment.
Oliverio (2001) estimated that the Kansas populations belonged to the subspecies P. s. campestris whose native range is Corsica, Italy, northern Yugoslavia, Croatia, and Azerbaijan. Kolbe et al. (2012) determined that the Topeka population (from which those in Hays were obtained) were derived from ancestral stock collected in northern Tuscany, in the vicinity of Florence, Italy. Additional analyses that included nuclear markers would be helpful in determining the initial source(s) of the Kansas population.

Bibliography:
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
Joseph T. Collins first Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Smith 1956)>
1977 Smith, Hobart M. and Anthony J. Kohler. A survey of herpetological introductions in the United States and Canada. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 80(1/2):241-
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
Joseph T. Collins second Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1974)>
1986 Clarke, Robert F. The invaders. Kansas School Naturalist 33(2):1-16
1991 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
Joseph T. Collins third Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1982)>
1996 Gubanyi, James E. Green Lacerta rediscovered in Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):15
1996 Rakestraw, J. Spring herp counts: A Kansas tradition. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (March-April):75-80
1997 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1996. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (107):14-16
1997 Miller, Larry L. Topeka Collegiate School summer research class yields specimen of Green Lacerta. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (109):13
1998 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1998 Tucker, B. J. October Activity of an Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis sicula) Community at 1880 S. W. Gage Boulevard, Topeka, Kansas. Thesis. Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas. pp.
1998 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 131pp.
2000 Gisser, K. Tracking the elusive Italian Wall Lizard. Colorado Herpetological Society Newsletter 27(10):1-3
2001 Gubanyi, James E. Notes on reproduction of the Western Green Lacerta (Lacerta bilineata) and the Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis sicula) in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (126):15
2001 Oliverio, Marco, Russell Burke , Marco Alberto Bologna , Annarita Wirz & Paolo Mariottini. Molecular characterization of native (Italy) and introduced (USA) Podarcis sicula populations (Reptilia, Lacertidae). Italian Journal of Zoology 68(2):121-124
2002 Corti, C. and P. Lo Cascio. The Lizards of Italy and Adjacent Areas. Andreas S. Brahm, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. pp.
2002 Kingsbury, Bruce and Joanna Gibson. Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Midwest. Publication of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Address not given. 152pp.
2002 Gubanyi, James E. Notes on the Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis sicula) when maintained in captivity with native Kansas lizards. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (3):14
2002 Burke, Russell L., A. Hussain, Janet M. Storey, and Kenneth B. Storey. Freeze tolerance and supercooling ability in the Italian Wall Lizard, Podarcis sicula, introduced to Long Island, New York. Copeia 2002(3):836-842
2003 Gubanyi, James E. Additional notes on reproduction in the Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis sicula) . Journal of Kansas Herpetology (8):22
2004 Taggart, Travis W. Geographic distribution. Podarcis sicula. Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (10):10
2004 Miller, Larry L. Life history. Podarcis sicula. Winter activity. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (10):11
2005 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians, turtles, and reptiles in Kansas for 2004. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (13):13-16
2005 Miller, Larry L. Life history notes: Podarcis sicula. Winter activity. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (14):10
2005 Podnar, Martina, Werner Mayer, and Nikola Tvrtkovic. Phylogeography of the Italian wall lizard, Podarcis sicula, as revealed by mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Ecology 2005(14):575–588
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2006 Dugan, Erin. Observations on native and alien Podarcis. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (19):10
2006 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Ninth annual running of the lizards. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (20):8
2007 Taggart, Travis W. The 10th annual running of the lizards. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (24):15
2007 Burke, Russell L., S. R. Goldberg, C. R. Bursey, S. L. Perkins, and P. T. Andreadis. Depauperate parasite faunas in introduced populations of Podarcis (Squamata: Lacertidae) lizards in North America. Journal of Herpetology 41(4):755-757
2008 Burke, Russell L. and Guntram Deichsel. Lacertid lizards introduced into North America: History and future. Pages 347-353 in Herpetological Conservation 3, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. pp.
2008 Burke, Russell L. and Guntram Deichsel. Lacertid lizards introduced into North America: History and future. Pages 347-353 in Urban Herpetology. SSAR, Utah. pp.
2009 Kraus, Fred. Alien Reptiles and Amphibians: A Scientific Compendium and Analysis. SpringerVerlag, Heidelberg, Germany. 563pp.
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
Joseph T. Collins fourth Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1993)>
2010 Collins, Joseph T. and James E. Gubanyi. History and distribution of the Western Green Lacerta, Lacerta bilineta (Reptilia: Squamata: Lacertidae) in Topeka, Kansa. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (34):8-9
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2012 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada: Second Edition, Revised and Updated. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 152pp.
2012 Kolbe, Jason J., Brian R. Lavin, Russell L. Burke, Lorenzo Rugiero, Massimo Capula, and Luca Luiselli. The desire for variety: Italian wall lizard (Podarcis siculus) populations introduced to the United States via the pet trade are derived from multiple native-range sources. Biological Invasions 15(4):
2013 Miller, Larry L. 15th annual running of the lizards. Collinsorum 2(1/2):10
2015 Briggler, Jeffrey T., Rhonda L. Rimer, and Guntram Deichsel. First record of the Northern Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus campestris) in Missouri. IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians 22(1):43-45
2016 Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. 494pp.
2017 Taggart, Travis W. and J. Daren Riedle. A Pocket Guide to Kansas Amphibians, Turtles and Lizards. Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, Kansas. 69pp.
2017 Crother, Brian I. (editor) Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding. Eighth edition. Herpetological Circulars (43):102
2019 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada. Third Edition. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 192pp.
2020 Daniel, Richard E. and Brian S. Edmond. Atlas of Missouri Amphibians and Reptiles for 2019. Privately printed, Columbia, Missouri. 86pp.
2020 Riedle, J. Daren. Conservation conversations: The lost, misplaced, and the adventurous. Kansas Wildlife and Parks Magazine July-August():15
2022 Meshaka, Walter E. Jr., R. Bruce Bury, Suzanne L. Collins, and Malcolm L. McCallum. Exotic Amphibians and Reptiles of the United States. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. 245pp.
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Travis W. Taggart © 1999-2024 — w/ Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University