Meadow lizard - Darevskia pontica: Lantz & Cyrén, 1919
Formerly included in the genus Lacerta, this species is now included in the genus Darevskia (Arribas (1998, 1999), Fu et al. (1997), Fu (1998) and Harris et al. (1998)).
Due to the morphological description made by Tuniyev et al., 2011 which is comprehensive and clearly exposed (for further informations see Tuniyev, S. B., Doronin, I. A., Kidov, A. A. & Tuniyev, B. S. 2011. Systematic and geographical variability of meadow lizard, Darevskia praticola (Reptilia: Sauria) in the Caucasus. Russian Jorunal of Herpetology, 18 (4): 295- 316), Darevskia praticola pontica (Lantz & Cyrén, 1919) is now Darevskia pontica (Lantz & Cyrén, 1919).
This species is distinguished by 6 pairs of chin shields, 3 pairs forming a median suture (Darevskia praticola has 5 pairs of chin shields with 2 pairs forming a median suture).
Total length is between12-14 cm, the tail being almost two thirds from the total length.
Between supraciliaries and supraocularis, dividing them, it has a complete row from about 10 granules (supraciliary granules) on each side; large maseteric region; toothed collar; large femoral pores, which extend to the knees; dorsal scales with well expressed keels; swollened tail base; in front of large anal shield a row from preanal shields.
General color is light-brown or light-reddish, with a darkly-brown or reddish stripe (maximum 7 scale rows width) along vertebral spine and a wide dark-brown or dark-reddish stripe on both lateral sides; between the cervical and lateral stripes, a small number of small reddish spots. Ventrally is yellowish-green on males and yellowish-white on females.
This species feeds mainly on insects. Mating occurs during April and May, oviposition period occurs in June, and the young hatch in July. The average clutch size of 5.7 eggs (range 4 - 8) represents the largest recorded for this species. The hibernation starts in October.
Meadow lizard lives in the woods with foliage, including grassy bushes, beeing often found in clearings with lush vegetation, traditional meadows and glades within open broad-leaf woodland and can run easily on tree stems.
Darevskia pontica (Lantz and Cyren, 1919) occurs in very fragmented populations, ranging from eastern and southern Serbia, western and southern Romania, much of Bulgaria (except the southwest), and northeastern Greece (a few records from the margin of its range) to European Turkey (Thrace only). Also inhabits the north-western Caucasus.
Scientific name: Darevskia pontica
Common name: meadow lizard
IUCN Status: Near Threatened
Listed as Near Threatened because this species is probably in significant decline (but probably at a rate of less than 30% over ten years) because of widespread habitat loss through much of its range, most especially in western populations, thus making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable.
Populations in Central and Southern Europe (including Thrace) are significantly threatened by habitat loss and degradation caused by agricultural intensification (conversion of suitable habitat; overgrazing; agrochemical pollution) (CoE, 2003).
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