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European Wall Lizard; friend or foe?

 
Dillon Nichols
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On my parents acreage, and everywhere that I hike nearby, the native Northern Alligator Lizards are pretty much gone. They have been replaced by invasive European Wall Lizards, in MASS quantities around the garden, where there are rock walls, cracked cement, logs walls, and rockpiles everywhere. Excellent lizard habitat, on purpose... but pretty darn good even before that.

I was generally OK with this; there certainly wasn't any reversing of the trend, these things are here to stay. I figured any lizard was a good thing overall, and they're very entertaining company, plus I hoped they would eat the slugs!

Now I'm getting a little concerned. There are no signs of any mason bees in the freshly cleaned house on a post above a rock pile; I think the lizards got the local bees along with those we bought. They climb a lot more than the native lizards, and there are a lot more of them.

Today I watched one climb into an apple tree, 8 feet off the ground, by way of a twig resting against a fence, and catch a huge dragonfly, which I really would have preferred kept eating our massive crop of mosquitoes. They eat spiders, and all manner of ground insects, but aren't interested in the smaller pests or flying things. Never seen one eat a slug, and there are still plenty around...

On top of that, I read recently that these lizards will eat fruit/berries... and something stripped my 6 haskap bushes again this year, without breaking any branches or making a mess like birds often do. I have never tasted a ripe Haskap from these bushes after 3 summers! Same thing happened last fall with my chilean guava bushes. I'm tempted to get a berry monitoring camera!


So, anyone have any experience with these little buggers? Do you consider them a net positive in your garden? Have you seen them eating berries? Noticed a decrease in large predatory bugs, or increase in mosquitos and other flying pests?
 
Steve Farmer
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Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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Are you talking about geckos, short with little rubber suckers on their feet?

Cats bring these in as well as "regular" lizards, the ones that can't climb. The regular lizards just give up and die, whereas the geckos go straight up the wall behind a picture or to the ceiling to get away from the cat. Then they live for months in the house doing a great job of making sure there are no flies or mosquitoes. They are especially good at eating mosquitoes.

I've seen the regular lizards eat leaves from my palm seedlings, and my pea and pepper plants. Never seen a gecko eat any vegetation, come to think of it I've never seen a gecko in the garden, just the ones in the house delivered by cat. I see plenty of regular lizards outside. I assume the geckos are just better at hiding.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Nope, these are definitely lizards not geckos. Don't think geckos could handle the climate here.

To be more specific, these are Podarcis muralis maculiventris (http://www.lacerta.de/AS/Artikel.php?Article=82)

Despite lacking the handy traction pads of a gecko, they seem to be pretty darn good climbers; they easily scale vertical wooden fenceposts, for example.

 
Steve Farmer
Posts: 369
Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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forest garden greening the desert trees
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Those look like the ones I am calling "regular" lizards. They can climb over rocks and up rough rocky garden walls but no chance climbing in the house. But they do eat a lot of stuff in the garden, so much so that I have to plant my young trees in plastic bottles to stop them being eaten.

They seem to eat the leaves at the driest times. I guess they are doing it simply to get water. Maybe leaving some water out for them would stop the leaves being eaten, but at the same time might attract more of them. A cat or two will decimate the lizard population very quickly. It's like shooting ducks for a cat, they don't even have to be hungry.
 
R Ranson
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We have them here too.

The rock walls have about 4 lizards per square foot. So far the only benefit I've seen is that the chickens love them. We have quite a few expert lizard hunting hens now.

They don't appear to eat any plants here, but we have water out for the livestock, so maybe that stops them. Haven't seen a slug in over three years, so something's eating them. I would have expected some slugs to return once the ducks left the area, but no slugs and lots of lizards.

The guys at my house have no trouble climbing the side of the house to the second story window. Kind of freaky having a lizard look in at me while I'm brushing my teeth.

When I want to catch them, I put about three inches of water in the bottom of a three or five gallon bucket, leave something so the lizards can climb up to the bucket, like a stick. The lizards go in the bucket and can't climb out again. Chickens are happy about their free meal.

I've been meaning to look up what they eat and decide if I want to reduce their numbers or just let them be.

Edit to add - Do you think these lizards are edible? Edible to humans that is. I imagine gutting them, put them on a stick, then toasting them over the fire. Might be tough though. Sounds crazy, but it's a serious question.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Well, I caught one, as per your method R; it's living in a big jar in the greenhouse whilst I perform assorted dietary experiments, in hopes of better understanding my new reptilian overlords... If I learn anything without accidentally offing the poor creature I'll report back.

We have a definite duck deficiency/slug surplus; the current control is slug traps, and we are still catching lots. Lots and lots and lots. So I have a hard time believing this embarrassment of lizards is consuming them; surely we'd have less slugs by now. Most are tiny, too, seemingly perfect lizard snacks.

I can see chickens really getting along well with these guys, yummy snacks! Sadly there will be no chickens here, and the cat is strictly an indoor beastie since she nearly killed herself swallowing something pointy. Plus it's not like I really want ducks or chickens in the garden itself, so the impact would be from population reduction rather than area exclusion...


I would bet they are edible to people... but I would doubt that they are tasty. Only reptile I've eaten was rattlesnake, and it was *vile*...
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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