< Fauna
European green lizard
Lacerta viridis

The European green Lizard Lacerta viridis is the most common species of the family Lacertidae in Bulgaria. It is also found in most of Europe, where often can be seen basking on rocks or meadows. This species reaches a length of 35 cm, as its tale takes upto 2/3 of it. Its back is green with many small black spots, which are larger in females. The upper side of the head is covered with bright green dots, as the body sides may have white spots. The belly is yellow or yellow-green. In females, the throat is white or pale blue. During the breeding season the head and neck of the male are deep blue. Juveniles are brown with dark spots and two bright stripes.

The green lizards inhabit dry and sunny places, meadows with rare shrubs and forest rands, rocky terrains and sometimes inside the forests.

In Bulgaria there are two subspecies. They differ in color. The nominate subspecies L.v. viridis inhabits the whole country, with the exception of the southeast - Strandzha Mountains and close by medows. In the mountains these lizards climb to 1800 m above sea level. The top of the legs and tail are green. Southeast Bulgaria and the places in Central and Northern Bulgaria have been inhabited by the other subspecies L.v. meridionalis, in which the top of the legs and tail are gray or brownish.

During the breeding season the male species maintains a large territory. It defends it from other males and allows only a few females. Permanent couples could be formed also. The female lays an average of 8 (6-22) round eggs. They hatch from the second half of August. The young lizards are only 40 mm long.

The main food of these lizards are insects, rarely small vertebrates (lizards, frogs, etc.) or fruit. The ancient scholars believed for centuries that the green lizard has no tongue and eats dew. It is therefore seen as a symbol of silence and wisdom. In Egyptian and Greek mythology it is a symbol of good fortune. Since the green lizard spent months in hibernation Romans took it as a symbol of death and resurrection. In most cultures, the lizard is a symbol of evil and the devil himself, as on the preserved ancient murals the old gods were painted with the lizard in hand.

Text: PhD. Svetla Dalakchieva
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