Lacertidae – Lacertids

Small to medium sized brightly colored terrestrial lizards

Found mostly in Eurasia and Africa, with Europe being a particularly common habitat for these reptiles. True to their name, lacertid lizards typically possess well-developed legs and tails, often extending longer than the rest of their body.

These lizards exhibit a variety of lifestyles within their family. While most lacertids are terrestrial, some species are arboreal and equipped with prehensile tails to aid in climbing. Regardless of habitat preferences, all lacertids are heliotherms, relying on sun exposure to regulate their body temperature. Basking in the sunlight is a common behavior observed among these lizards.

During the breeding season, male lacertids often display vibrant and intricate patterns on their bodies, particularly on their expanded throats. These displays serve as a form of territorial defense and intimidation against rival males. However, if disputes arise, physical confrontations may occur to determine mating rights and dominance.

One intriguing reproductive characteristic of lacertid lizards is their viviparous nature, meaning they give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. Additionally, some species within the family have been documented to exhibit parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction where females produce offspring without fertilization by a male. This reproductive strategy allows certain lacertid species to reproduce without the need for mating, ensuring their survival even in the absence of suitable mates.