Timon lepidus

The ocellated lizard Timon lepidus is a species of lizard characteristic of southwestern Europe, associated with Mediterranean ecosystems. It is distributed throughout the Iberian Peninsula, southern France, northwest Italy and northwest Africa. In Spain, it is only absent in northern Galicia, on the northern slopes of the Cantabrian Corniche, the Basque Country and northern Navarre.

It is the largest saurian on the European continent, very robust, and can reach 70-80 cm in total length. The male has a wide head with thick, strong legs with long, curved claws. The dorsal color is usually green, but can sometimes be gray or brown, especially on the head and tail. A black dot is superimposed on this. The underside is yellowish or greenish. The male is brighter than the female and has two stripes of blue ocelli on its flanks. The young are green, gray or brown, with yellowish or white parts with spots all over.

It is a ubiquitous species, which occupies all types of biotopes, excluding those completely humanized, and is found in all types of crops and Mediterranean and mountain forests. In general, the ocellated lizard is a species that prefers areas with not very high vegetation cover, since it has open spaces where it can sunbathe and shelters to hide. The progressive abandonment of farming areas has meant that the ocellated lizard has been displaced by the green lizard, Lacerta bilineata, another medium-sized lizard more accustomed to dense vegetation.

The male is larger than the female. They are omnivores and feed on large insects, worms, small mammals, fruits, etc.

The female, depending on her size, lays approximately 5 to 25 eggs. She normally buries them in June and abandons them to her fate.

Greenish in color with dark markings, it has a corpulent appearance, where the bluish moles on its side stand out.

It is a completely diurnal and very territorial animal that hibernates from November to February. Although they are basically terrestrial, they are very agile and fast and do not hesitate to climb trees to protect themselves from their predators. They can also release their tail to entertain and thus be able to escape.

Species of faunal interest. Their populations have decreased greatly in recent years. It appears in Annex III, as “Guarded Species”, in the Valencian Catalog of Endangered Species of Fauna (Decree 265/1994). The bite of a large specimen can produce a certain impression and some pain, but it cannot be deduced from this that it is a dangerous animal for people, on the contrary, it is very beneficial due to the harmful invertebrates it destroys. In the Iberian rural world it has been used as food by rural people.

The ocellated lizard is the largest of the lizards that exist in Europe and a great predator of the Mediterranean forest.
There are two differentiated geographical subspecies, the Timon lepidus nevadensis, with a duller tone and with inconspicuous ocelli, and the Timon lepidus ibericus, which is greenish and much more marked.
A close view of the drawings on its flanks.

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