Zootoca – Viviparous lizard

The genus contains one of the very few viviparous (giving birth to living young instead of eggs) lizards

A remarkable group of viviparous lizards found throughout Eurasia, with its distribution extending farther north than any other non-marine reptile.
Despite the genus consisting of a single species, viviparous lizard, it boasts a range of fascinating traits and ecological adaptations.

One of the key adaptations of viviparous lizards is their ability to provide nourishment to the developing embryos. Unlike egg-laying lizards, which rely on the yolk sac for nutrition, viviparous lizards have a specialized structure called the placenta. The placenta allows for the exchange of oxygen, nutrients, and waste products between the mother and the developing embryos.

The gestation period of viviparous lizards varies among species. Some species may give birth to live young after a few weeks, while others may have gestation periods lasting several months. The number of offspring produced in a single litter can also vary significantly, ranging from a few individuals to several dozen.

Zootoca lizards also exhibit remarkable physiological adaptations that enable them to thrive in various temperatures, including subarctic regions. Their high tolerance to temperature variations is a testament to their resilience and ability to withstand extreme environmental conditions. This adaptability allows them to inhabit diverse habitats, from temperate woodlands and grasslands to subarctic tundra environments, making them highly successful and widely distributed across their range.