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Rock Lizards Wall Lizards and Relatives: Lacertidae

Conservation Status

According to the World Conservation Union (IUCN), Simony's giant lizard is Critically Endangered, which means that it faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. This giant lizard is so rare that scientists actually thought it was extinct until a small population turned up in 1975 high in the cliffs of El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands. Another species, called the Gomeran giant lizard, was similarly thought to be extinct until 2001 when a population was discovered in the Canaries. It may be even more rare than Simony's giant lizard, but the IUCN has not yet listed it as being at risk. The greatest predators to these lizards are cats and rats, which were both brought to the islands by humans.


Many lizards, including the wall and rock lizards of the family Lacertidae, can drop their tails when they are attacked. The dropped tail wiggles around on the ground and draws the attention of the attacker while the lizard runs for its life. Wall and rock lizards can drop their tails because their tails are made of a series of small bones that have weak points between them. The lizard also has a ring of strong muscles around each weak point. When attacked, the lizard squeezes the ring of muscles so tightly that the weak point in the tail snaps and the tail falls off. After it drops, nerves in the tail continue to work sometimes for many minutes, and the tail busily squirms along the ground. Eventually, the tail stops moving, but by then, the lizard is long gone.

In addition to Simony's giant lizard and the Gomeran giant lizard, the IUCN has listed Clark's lacerta as Endangered, which means that it faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild, and five others as Vulnerable, which means that they run a high risk of extinction in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the Hierro giant lizard as Endangered, or in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and the Ibiza wall lizard as Threatened, or likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesRock Lizards Wall Lizards and Relatives: Lacertidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Sand Lizard (lacerta Agilis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, ROCK LIZARDS WALL LIZARDS THEIR RELATIVES AND