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Reptiles and Amphibians Snakes No snakes occur naturally on the islands but the Brahminy Blind Snake and Common Kingsnake have both been introduced accidentally to the Central Canaries .The former is harmless but the latter is a predator of native reptiles . Lizards One species of lizard, the Madeira Lizard, is endemic to Madeira, while the lizard population of the Canaries represents one of the best examples of island evolution and radiation . Genetic work has revealed that ancestors of both the giant lizards and the smaller lizards originated in North Africa and reached the Eastern Canaries first, having presumably arrived on floating debris, before spreading westwards through the island group, using each new island as a stepping stone, until reaching the youngest and westernmost island, El Hierro . Giant lizards The original reptile fauna of the Canaries included several very large‘giant’lizards, most of which suffered greatly when humans colonised the islands, presumably as a result of hunting and predation by introduced dogs, cats and rats .TheTenerife Giant Lizard grew to almost 1 .5m in length but sadly appears to have quickly gone extinct, although its smaller cousin, the Tenerife Speckled Lizard, was recently discovered in tiny numbers on the island .The Gran Canaria Giant Lizard, however, survived in good numbers and remains quite common on its home island and has a small introduced population in E Fuerteventura . Even more remarkably, the endemic giant lizards of both El Hierro and La Gomera, which were long thought to be extinct, have both been rediscovered in recent years and are targets of conservation action . Sightings since 2007 of a possible giant lizard on the N coast of La Palma have raised the tantalising possibility that the La Palma endemic species (which grew to a total length of 90cm) may also survive – although these records may refer instead to large male specimens of the La Palma subspecies of theWestern Canaries Lizard . Any really large lizards observed on steep remote slopes on La Palma should be thoroughly checked and photographed whenever possible .The observed lizards were largely dark brown in colour, and some had yellow spots down their sides . 1 Common Kingsnake L 90cm This striking black and white North American snake has been introduced accidentally to Gran Canaria, where it is thriving. By 2014, its population there was estimated at 20,000, with snakes widespread in most habitats. Although non-venomous, it poses a severe threat to all the endemic reptiles on the island. I 2 Brahminy Blind Snake L 17cm Originally from Asia, this tiny inconspicuous non-venomous snake has recently been found on Tenerife and Gran Canaria having arrived in the soil of potted plants. Living in the soil, it is rarely seen, but it looks likes a shiny, black unsegmented earthworm. I 164 1 2 3 Madeira Lizard L 21cm including tail of 13cm ENDEMICTO MADEIRA This lizard is very common on all the islands in the Madeiran group and has also been accidentally introduced to the Azores. It occurs commonly in most habitats, including urban areas, from sea level to 1,850m in the mountains, although it is less common in dense laurel forest and has a preference for rocky places and walls for basking. Adults are variable in colour, ranging from grey to brown, flecked darker and paler above, sometimes with a greenish tinge. Adult males 3♂ can show red or orange below with a bluish throat. Females 3♀ retain a hint of the alternating dark and pale longitudinal stripes of immature lizards and are whitish below, sometimes with darker spots. This is the only naturally occurring lizard on the Madeiran islands, although Boettger’s Lizard has been introduced and occurs in and around Funchal. E Snakes | Lizards 165 2♂ 3♀ 3♂ 1 Atlantic (Haria) Lizard L 20cm including tail of 10cm ENDEMICTO EASTERN CANARIES This lizard is confined to the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and their nearby small islets, although a small introduced population occurs around Arinaga on the E side of Gran Canaria. It is abundant and easily seen throughout its native islands and frequents a wide range of habitats, including wooded areas, shrub land, dry open rocky areas, beaches, urban areas, gardens and agricultural land, up to 800m elevation. It is often encountered basking on rocks or bare ground, scuttling away rapidly upon close approach. It is a small to medium-size lizard with a pointed snout, large coarse scales on the back and a slightly spinylooking tail. Adults are dark brown to black with...


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