Large Psammodromus - Psammodromus algirus – Lagartija colilarga-2

Large Psammodromus – Psammodromus algirus – Lagartija Colilarga

  • English: Large Psammodromus
  • Scientific: Psammodromus algirus (Linnaeus 1758)
  • Castilian: Lagartija Colilarga
  • Catalan: Sargantaner gros
  • Portuguese: Lagartixa-do-mato
  • Family: Lacertidae
  • Distribution: Iberia (excluding the northern Atlantic coastal stretch.) Algeria, France, Gibraltar, Italy, Morocco, Portugal and Tunisia

The Large Psammodromus – Psammodromus algirus – Lagartija Colilarga can have a body length of up to 9cm with a slender tail that is two or three times longer. Its back is a soft brown with two pale yellow or off white stripes running down each flank. The back legs up to the beginning of the tail are a soft orange colour, all of this helps them to blend well with fallen leaves and soil shades under bushes which is where they are normally seen. This can be in forests, woods or more open scrubland but generally not far from shrubs that they can hunt through and use as shelter.

They are very agile and can even be seen climbing nimbly through gorse bushes, often only giving away their position as they rustle through leaves. This species is very adaptable and can inhabit areas from sea level up to 2600m in altitude in the warmer southern areas of their distribution range.

Large Psammodromus - Psammodromus algirus – Lagartija colilarga-2
Large Psammodromus – Psammodromus algirus – Lagartija colilarga Note the stripes down the flanks.

This is the most numerous species of lizard in Iberia. Their diet consists mainly of arthropods – beetles, spiders, grasshoppers and ants, they will also eat small lizards and fruit or seeds. If the temperature exceeds 15 degrees then they can be active throughout the year only hibernating in areas where the temperature drops lower than this. They are generally diurnal but may also be out on summer nights.

Large Psammodromus - Psammodromus algirus – Lagartija colilarga-2
Large Psammodromus – Psammodromus algirus – Lagartija colilarga – Lunching on a grasshopper.

The males can have blue spots along their sides just above the forelimbs and can also show red / yellow colouring on their faces during the breeding season. Breeding begins in the spring and there may be two or rarely three clutches consisting of between 2 to 11 eggs. The incubation time can vary from one to six weeks with the young appearing from August through to October. The young are 2.5 to 3cm in body length and have the same colouration and patterns as the adults. This species may live up to 7 years.

Here is a short clip of an opportunistic large psammodromus feeding on flying ants

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3 thoughts on “Large Psammodromus – Psammodromus algirus – Lagartija Colilarga”

  1. Hi,
    I live in Spain & have a large pair of these gorgeous lizards living on my roof among my plants & awnings, I have owned this house for 20 years, they have only just arrived here & have decided to make it home, they even have a favorite pot, but annually I need to spray my Geraniums to keep the Moroccan moth off them, or they will decimate the geraniums, what would you recommend I do?
    Is there any lizard (and bee) friendly eco spray you could recommend?
    Kindest regards

    1. Hi Samantha…. First… If you manage to get a picture please send it to I would love to 100 percent confirm they are large psammodromus as you mention the roof and that´s not their normal habitat. Interesting stuff!

      Re those pesky geranium moths, go to a garden centre and look for one of the Organic Caterpillar Killer sprays. These claim to be harmless to beneficial insects and pets… Some you can even spray onto fruiting plants and still eat the fruit 24 hours later.

      Remember the time of spraying is essential. You should spray last thing in the evening or nigh time when bees and other pollinators are not on the wing and your lizards are sleeping in a safe place…

      Let me know how you get on!

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