Click for more images

Common Wall Lizard

Podarcis muralis

Family: Anguidae

COSEWIC status:
  • Not Assessed
SARA status:
  • Not Assessed
IUCN status:
  • Least Concern


The introduced Common Wall Lizard is a long, slender, highly patterned lizard with small, bead-liked scales on the back. Adults can grow to over 20 cm in total length, with males being larger than females. Colour and pattern are variable, ranging from brown to grey or greenish in colour on the back and sides, with a dark broken stripe down the back. Sometimes they have several longitudinal stripes, and black/blue spots or reticulate patterning along the sides, while some individuals are spotted all over.

Similar Species

On Vancouver Island this species may be confused with the Northern Alligator Lizard. However, Common Wall Lizards have longer toes and bead-like scales, lack a skin fold along the body, and often have more vibrant colour and patterning.


Click for larger image

This species is endemic to Europe and central Asia but has been introduced to southern England and several locales in North America. In 1970, a dozen animals were released in the Victoria area. Since the 1990s they have spread at an alarming rate and now occupy southern Vancouver Island, including Greater Victoria, Saanich Peninsula, Colwood, Nanaimo, Mill Bay and several of the Gulf Islands (Denman, Saltspring, and Pender Islands). The introduced population of Common Wall Island is now estimated at 500,000–700,000 on Vancouver Island. As of 2020, an established population has been confirmed on the mainland in Chilliwack, BC.


The Common Wall Lizard reaches high densities in suitable open or semi-open habitats, raising concerns about ecological impacts on sensitive woodland habitats—especially Garry Oak ecosystems. It prefers rocky environments, including urban settings. Eggs are buried in the ground or placed under a piece of bark or a rock. Individuals hibernate underground in crevices, animal burrows, foundations or other structures that allow them to get below the frost line.


In British Columbia, Common Wall Lizards usually hibernate between November and March. However, they can occasionally be seen basking in the open on warm days from December through February. Mating occurs in mid-March. In April, the females typically lay 3–11 eggs per clutch, which hatch within a month. Females can deposit clutches of eggs more than once a year if there is ample food and sun, which could give them a competitive advantage over the native Northern Alligator Lizard, which only reproduces once a year. The Common Wall Lizard is a small, fast-moving lizard that is readily seen during the day, either hunting or basking in the sun. This species feeds mainly on small invertebrates but will also consume fruit and berries. Individuals that are captured by a predator may autotomize (drop) their tail as a defensive strategy to distract the predator and allow them to escape. A new tail grows back but is often a different colour than the original tail. Common Wall Lizards may compete for food or shelter with native Northern Alligator Lizards or Sharp-tailed Snakes.


Common Wall Lizards have the potential to become an invasive species and may threaten native reptiles, including the Northern Alligator Lizard and the endangered Sharp-tailed Snake. You can help by doing the following:

  • Report observations of European Wall Lizards to (include location & photo if possible)
  • Refrain from intentionally moving lizards to new localities.
  • Discourage children from catching lizards and keeping them as pets; pets often escape or may be released.
  • Inspect horse trailers or materials such as hay bales or plant and nursery material before transport from sites where European Wall Lizards occur.

Additional Information About This Species In Canada