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Fuerteventura Fauna - Reptiles

Lagarto Gigante - Gran-Canaria - Picture by Alex Bramwell

Fuerteventura Fauna - Reptiles

Article by Alex Bramwell, resident zoologist and author of the upcoming Sunshine Guide to Gran Canaria
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Haria Lizard, Atlantic Lizard

Gallotia Atlantica

Haria Lizard, Atlantic Lizard

Endemic to the Eastern islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote and their associated islets, although there is also a small, probably introduced population on the East coast of Gran Canaria. The Haria Lizard is the smallest of the Gallotias, a lizard genus endemic to the Canary Islands.

The young, at under 10cm. in length, are light sandy brown in colour and very fast runners. As the lizards grow older they become darker, with some adult males almost black with prominent green mottles on the flanks and a jet black throat. Adults can be as long as 25cm.

The Haria Lizard inhabits dry and arid areas, sand dunes and lava flows from the coastline up to the Jandia peaks on Fuerteventura. It can be found almost everywhere on Fuerteventura, especially in hotel and apartment gardens where it will bask on rocks and walls. It is omnivorous, feeding on invertebrates, seeds and flowers and becomes quite tame in gardens and holiday resorts. It is preyed upon by owls, shrikes and kestrels as well as hedgehogs and cats.

The Gran Canaria Lizard Gallotia simonyi stehlini (top picture) has recently been introduced to Fuerteventura and is resident in some barrancos. Any lizard over 25cm long is likely to be of this species. They are much larger than the Haria lizard, with adult males reaching 70cm.

Eastern Canarian Gecko

Tarentola Angustimentalis

Endemic to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and their larger associated islets, including Lobos. Tarentola angustimentalis is common across most of its range, although its nocturnal habits mean it is rarely seen.

It is associated with ancient lava flows, sand dunes and dry stony ground where there is at least a minimum of vegetation but has also colonised human habitations and can be seen hunting for insects around artificial lights. Like many geckos it will shed its tail if in danger and can change colour, with those on dark lava almost black and those on white walls a translucent pink. A voracious hunter of small insects and invertebrates. Two eggs are laid in a crevice once a year between May and July.

Eastern Canary Skink

Chalcides Simonyi

The Eastern Canary skink is the largest skink on the Canary Islands, reaching 25cm, but is very rarely seen as it spends almost all its life underground or amongst rocks. Present on Fuerteventura and maybe Lanzarote it is to be found at the base of dry stone walls and rocky areas where the ground is damp. Snails, insects and other small animals are eaten, along with vegetable matter.

The species is live bearing, with females giving birth to four young every year. This species is thought to be in retreat due to the historical drying out of Fuerteventura but may well be more abundant than sightings suggest due to its secretive nature.