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Deconstructing the Sargantana, Ibiza’s lizard queen

Deconstructing Sargantana, Ibiza’s lizard queen. A true symbol of the island, this ancient beast is now threatened by an invasion of snakes. 
Ben Raworth

Deconstructing Sargantana, Ibiza’s lizard queen and one of our favorite animals on the island. A true symbol of the island, this ancient beast is now threatened by an invasion of snakes

1. The sargantana – Podarcis pityusensis – is also known as the Ibiza wall lizard, even though it is found on the other Balearic Islands and has even made its way to mainland Spain. 

2. There is a second, slightly rarer subspecies – Podarcis pityusensis formenterae – which is confined to Formentera, Illa Conillera and Es Vedrà. This is more brightly coloured than its close cousin on Ibiza.

3. The whole species is now classified as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – this means action is required to stop it becoming vulnerable to endangerment in the near future. 

4. The sargantana is threatened by invasive snakes. The Ibiza Consell is carrying out a pilot project to control the snakes, which came from mainland Spain in imported olive trees, and is coordinating the distribution of traps. 

5. These lovely little lizards can grow to a maximum length of 7cm, but most adults are usually smaller. Their tails are twice as long as their bodies, and they have a short head with coarse scales.

6. The skin colour of sargantanas varies: the dorsal surface is usually green, but can also be grey or even brown. You can usually see a well-defined lateral stripe and, often, a row of dark spots running down the spine.

7. These lizards largely inhabit vegetated areas, especially those associated with humans. As well as gardens, pastures and arable land, they are found on rocks, especially near the coast. They can be common on some small islets, and live almost exclusively on the rocks.

8. They eat small invertebrates and really like ants. They also eat vegetable matter. Females usually produce a clutch of between two and four eggs. 


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