Creature Feature

lizard 2

Do you know what this is? It’s the Italian Wall Lizard – Podarcis siculus – and it lives in Topeka!

Tens of thousands of these fast little lizards can be found sunning themselves on rocks or scurrying underneath them for shelter all over Topeka.

Native to Northern Italy, this lizard made its home here about 50 years ago when a store that dealt with amphibian, reptile and exotic species closed. How did they get loose? Did they escape or were they set free? It’s still a mystery!

They eat insects. That can be helpful in a flower or vegetable garden. So far they haven’t spread any disease to the native wildlife which is always a concern with alien species.

Like a lot of lizards their tail can break off when escaping predators and they will survive!

To find out more about lizards, go to an Amazing Animals or a Zoo Animals Live program at your Library.



3 thoughts on “Creature Feature

  1. I love these lizards! I first noticed them in my garden when I moved back to Kansas a few years ago.
    It is disturbing to learn that a sort of “lizard round-up” is held each fall in Topeka, when school children are encouraged to hunt these creatures down and capture them, removing them from their chosen habitats. I have seen pictures of them on the Internet in plastic bags and glass jars. This does not teach children to respect and care for wildlife, and observe without doing harm.
    Because they are not native, these lizards are not a protected species. There is a danger that protected, endangered native species such as the skink will be caught and harmed by mistake.
    Is the race still being held? Can anything be done to stop it, or to at least make it non-destrucitve?

  2. I’ve lived in Topeka since 2002, with my children in public schools, and have never heard of this lizard round-up. Hopefully that means it hasn’t been a “tradition” for quite some time.

  3. It’s worse than I thought. They even feed them to snakes. I talked to the prof at KSU who promotes this, and he said that the scientific purpose was to track how far the lizards had spread. Surely one could do that without yanking them from their homes – just observe and take notes.

    If you Google “the running of the lizards” you will find more entries. Here’s one:

    Have a blessed Easter!

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