This lizard species can reach a snout-vent length of 7cm, but is typically smaller than this. The tail can be up to 2.5 times the length of the body (1). It is a rather flattened species, with a smooth collar and scales that are lightly keeled on the body.
There is a huge amount of variation in the colouration of these lizards, and is usually typical of the area they are found in. In general, individuals are a brown to grey colour, occasionally with a green tinge present, and black and white bars featuring on the sides of the tails (1). Females have darker flanks than males, pale dorso-lateral stripes and dark vertebral stripes or spots (1). Males typically have a darker marked dorsal surface, and an orange-red coloured belly. The throat is usually a white/cream colour, with variable amounts of black pigment which can extend down to the belly (more so in males) (1).
Within the genus Podarcis there are approximately 247 species and sub-species that are recognised (2). Of these, there are roughly 27 species in Europe, each no doubt with a number of sub-species (1).
It is found on rocky outcrops, boulders, outcrops and fields. In the south of its range it tends to occur in mountainous regions, whilst in the north it will occur in sunnier localities (1). In the south it is encountered in humid areas of habitat. Can be observed in towns and villages as well (3).
Mating occurs during spring, and females may lay up to 3 clutches a year (1) (3). Nests are either dug in the ground or underneath rocks (3). The hatchlings take about 6-11 weeks to appear, and generally have a snout-vent length of 3cm. P. muralis will reach sexual maturity in a year from birth (1).
The range of the common wall lizard covers most of mainland Europe, including north France, Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia and Romania. It also extends southwards into Spain, south Italy and the south Balkan Peninsula. There are populations in Asiatic Turkey and islands off the north coast of Italy (1).
It is a fast moving lizard species, which is an excellent climber that can ascend vertical walls (1). It will hibernate during the winter months, becoming more active as spring advances (3). It is an opportunistic lizard species, and is more audacious than its relatives (1). Can be found in densities of up to 1,400 individuals per hectare. Males are protective and will defend their territory of around 25 square metres (1).
In the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Podarcis muralis has been given a status of Least Concern, as their population numbers remain stable (4).
Listed under Appendix II of BERN Convention (5).
Description written by Sheridan Willis (2009)
(1) Arnold, E.N., 2004. A field guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Britain and Europe. 2nd ed. London: Harper Collins Publishers
(2) Zipcode Zoo 2009. Podarcis muralis in: <http://www.zipcodezoo.com/Animals/P/Podarcis_muralis/> Downloaded on 09 July 2009
(3) Dimitropoulos, A. and Iwannides, I. 2002. Natural History Museum Gulandris “Reptiles of Greece and Cyprus”. KOAN, Biblia Tou Kosmou
(4) IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. Podarcis muralis in: <www.iucnredlist.org> Downloaded on 09 July 2009
(5) Europe, C.o., 2002. Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats: Bern Convention. [Online] Available at: http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/FR/Treaties/Html/104-2.htm [Accessed 23 July 2009].