horvath's rock lizard (velebit lizard)

Prospekt Fauna, Intresting facts

Photo 1. Horvath’s rock lizard (Iberolacerta horvathi) on Mount Obruč (Photo by Patrik Krstinić)

(Iberolacerta horvathi)

Horvath’s rock lizard (Iberolacerta horvathi) is a typical example of a petrophyllic lizard of the Lacertidae family. The species was described by the Hungarian zoologist Lajos Mehely in 1904, and its Croatian name, velebitska gušterica (Velebit lizard), is derived from the fact that the first specimen of this species was found and described in the Velebit mountain range. Although similar to the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), it differs from it in the distribution, shape and size of the horny scales on its head. In addition, the common wall lizard has dark spots on its neck and the males of the species have a reddish belly. These characteristics are never found in Horvath’s rock lizard.

Horvath’s rock lizard is mostly found in damp mountain areas at altitudes between 500 and 2000 metres. It lives in the karst regions of open coniferous and beech forests. Because of its relatively narrow distribution range and relict characteristics, it can be classified as an endemic species of the  eastern Alpine/north Dinaric region. Its areal stretches from the far south of Germany to the south of Austria and Slovenia across Gorski Kotar and the entire Velebit region to Poštak in Croatia. In Croatia its areal extends inland as far as the Plitvice Lakes and it has also been found in the Mount Učka area. Despite the fact that the bulk of the species’ areal is within the territory of Croatia, the least research efforts concerning Horvath’s rock lizard have been made here.

In international nature protection regulations, the species is protected by the Bern Convention (Appendix II) and the Directive on the Conservation of natural habitats and wild flora and fauna (Annex IV). According to the criteria of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at the global level Horvath’s rock lizard is classified as NT (Near Threatened), while at the Croatian level it falls into the LC (Least Concern) category.


Photo 2. Horvath’s rock lizard (Velebit lizard) lives in rocky karst regions of damp mountains

Photo 3. Characteristically flattened body with dark-coloured sides