Buckeye Herps Blog

A photographic journal of the reptiles and amphibians of Ohio, Michigan and other places interesting wildlife call home.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Living with Lazarus

During my time in Cincinnati the local Lazarus lizards were a common sight at many of the parks, neighborhoods and even in the zoo. They are actually Common wall lizards, Podarcis muralis, an introduced species from Europe. ODNR states 2 lizards were released, but according to a paper by Guntrum Deichsel, (Deichsel, G. & Gist, D. H. (2001) "On the Origin of the Common Wall Lizards Podarcis muralis (Reptilia: Lacertidae) in Cincinnati, Ohio." Herpetological Review 32: 230-232.) the lizards were released by a young George Rau, a member of the Lazarus family, back in either 1951 or 1952. George later wrote a letter stating that he was the one who released the lizards in his yard, and that he initially brought over about 10 individuals from Lake Garda in northern Italy.

Basking on stump along side the trail in one of Cincinnati's urban parks.

Usually invasive species aren't exactly the best thing for native wildlife, but for whatever reason, all of Ohio's native lizards are absent from most of Cincinnati. If may be that they were long gone before the arrival of the Lazarus lizards due to urban sprawl and habitat destruction, or it may be that as the Podarcis flourished they out competed the native lizards. The fact remains, there are many areas around Cincinnati that have no lizards, including the invasive ones, which makes one wonder if Ohio's native lizards were doomed before the arrival of the european variety. Luckily, if you head to the outskirts, well out of the city, broadhead and five-lined skinks are able to be found, and can even be somewhat locally abundant.

Photographed on porch steps along Vine Street, in the Clifton area of Cincinnati.

I actually didn't mind the wall lizards that much. Although I was never lucky enough to have a colony living on any of my rental properties, many of my friends did. I enjoyed being able to walk down most streets in the Clifton area, and later Hyde Park and easily seeing an abundance of lizards. As mentioned above, most of the parks had them as well, and they were especially common along railroads. There is even some evidence that they are continuing to expand their range along railroads and the Ohio River valley.

The lizards can be very abundant along a few of the railroads.

The actual method of their invasion is of academic interest, but in the grand scheme of thing doesn't really matter. It seems the wall lizards are here to stay. They have been present for over 50 years now, seem to be expanding their range, and have survived many frigid winters. I for one don't totally oppose their presence. I would rather be able to walk around and see some lizard life as opposed to none. Besides, they are actually a fascinating little lizard.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info about these lizards (skinks?). They are also very abundant around Lunken Airport. Do you know what they eat exactly?