Reptiles

In Madeira island there are 4 species of reptiles. A wall lizard, which is endemic, 2 introduced geckos and one introduced small snake.
In Porto Santo Island there are 2 species. The wall lizard and one introduced gecko.
In Desertas islands there is only the wall lizard.
In Selvagens there are two reptile species. The wall lizard and a gecko endemic to this archipelago.

Madeiran Wall Lizard

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA LACERTIDAE

lagartixa-da-madeira

Species: Lacerta dugesii (synonymous: Teira dugesii, Podarcis dugesii)
Common names: English: Madeira Lizard; Portuguese: Lagartixa-da-Madeira
Size: Total length is 21,5 cm (including tail). Its body length is about 8 cm from snout-to-vent. The tail can measure 1,7 times the length of the body.
Color and pattern: High variability. Usually it presents brown or gray shades but can also have green or blue. Pattern presenting longitudinal bands or finely flecked with darker markings.
Other traits: Ability to drop the tail (caudal autotomy) which regenerate thereafter. Back and lateral body covered by small scales.
Longevity: Up to 16 years in wild populations [1].
teira-dugesii-distributionGeographic range: Endemic in Madeira, Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens. Introduced in Azores and Lisbon harbour. See map.
Population: Abundant species, particularly in Madeira island where it is a large population (sometimes hundreds can be seen in the same wall).
Habitat and ecology: Diurnal. Omnivore. Found in almost all habitats, from sea-level to 1861 m above sea level. Can be found in great numbers in areas of sparse vegetation, in rocky areas and in urban or cultivated areas. It is not common in woods but sometimes a specimen can be seen climbing a rock or a tree in the middle of dense areas of Laurissilva forest. Females lay two to three clutches of eggs annually.
Conservation status: Least concern [2].

Common Wall Gecko

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA GEKKONIDAE

tarentola-mauritanica

Species: Tarentola mauritanica
Common names: English: Common Wall Gecko, Moorish Gecko, Mauritian Gecko, Crocodile Gecko; Portuguese: Osga-comum; Spanish: Salamanquesa Común.
Size: Total length is 16,5 cm (including tail). It’s the largest of the European geckos. Its body length is about 8 cm (from snout-to-vent) [3]. The tail can measure about 1 time the length of the body. This lizard have a more robust appearance than Lagartixa-da-Madeira, presenting stocky bodies, larger heads with triangular form, and bigger eyes.
Color and pattern: Earth tones (gray/brown tones with lighter or darker spots) that usually blend with its background. The color is lighter at night and darker when the gecko is active by day.
Other traits: Eyes with vertical pupil (the animal is nocturnal) and no eyelid. Prominent tubercles arranged in well-defined rows along the gecko’s back, sides and tail. Rounded tubercles on the sides of the neck. It has caudal autotomy. On regenerated tails all scales are small.
As any other gecko it has specialized pads that let it climb smooth vertical surfaces, and even cross indoor undivided-toeceilings easily. The toe-pads are prominent and extend to the very tips of the toes. The lamellae are undivided. Claws present only on the third and fourth fingers of each foot.
Longevity: 8 years in captivity [4].
Geographic range: Introduced in Madeira and Porto Santo. It was first reported in Funchal more than 20 years ago. In Porto Santo island it was detected in 2008 [5]. More recently, in 2010, it was also found in several islands of the Azores archipelago[6]. Ranges throughout much of the Mediterranean region, in coastal areas tarentola-mauritanica-distribution(may be seen in some inland locations as well) of many South European Countries (including Portugal and Spain) and many countries of North Africa. Present in many Mediterranean islands. It was also introduced in Tenerife, Uruguay, Argentina and California.
Population: Growing. First detected in Funchal about 20 years ago, in Madeira it ranges now (2014) from Garajau to Camara de Lobos.
Habitat and ecology: Insectivore. Mainly nocturnal during warm weather, but Tarentola mauritanica may be active by day during cool periods. Found in a variety of habitats from sea-level to 2300 m above sea level [7]. In rocky habitats undisturbed by humans or in urbanized areas where it can be seen in house walls and ceilings. It is generally not present in forested areas. In Madeira island it is mainly seen along the coast, on walls and rocks of cliff areas and urban areas as well. Females lay clutches of 1 to 3 eggs.
Conservation status: Least concern [7].

Tropical house gecko

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA GEKKONIDAE

mabouiaSpecies: Hemidactylus mabouia
Common names: English: Tropical house gecko; Portuguese: Osga-caseira-tropical
Size: Total length is 12,5 cm (including tail). Its body length is up to 6,5 cm from snout-to-vent [8]. The tail can measure about 1 time the length of the body.
Color and pattern: Color change according to light conditions, ranging from light gray/brown to dark brown. It presents characteristic darker chevron bands (the entire body is masked in dark gray/brown V-shaped bands).
Other traits: Small and granular dorsal scales. Longitudinal rows of tubercles (spike-like Hemidactylus-mabouia-footscales) on body and tail. Large eyes with vertical pupil (the animal is nocturnal) and no eyelid. It has caudal autotomy. The lamellae (modified scales below the fingers and toes that allow the gecko to cling on to any vertical surface) are divided (see picture [9]). Claws present in every fingers.
Longevity: There is no data on longevity for this species [10].
Geographic range: Introduced in Madeira. It was first reported in Funchal on 2002 [11]. It’s a very widespread species, native to Africa, found across sub-Saharan Africa and many islands. It has been introduced to various Hemidactylus-mabouia-distributionCentral and South American countries and North America [10]. See distribution map [12].
Population: In 2002 three specimens were found in Funchal more than 500 m apart, so a larger population is believed to exist there [11].
Habitat and ecology: Insectivore. Mainly nocturnal but can also be active during daylight in cool and shaded areas. Highly active during the heat of the evening. Its activity decrease as night progresses and temperatures decrease [13]. Can be found predominantly in urban locations near insect-attracting lights.
Conservation status: Not evaluated.

Selvagens gecko

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA GEKKONIDAE

selvagens-geckoSpecies: Tarentola bischoffi
Common names: English: Boettger’s Wall Gecko; Portuguese: Osga-das-Selvagens.
Size: Total length is about 12 cm (including tail). Its body length is about 6 cm (from snout-to-vent) [14]. The tail can measure about 1 time the length of the body. This lizard appearance is similar to Tarentola mauritanica with large triangular heads.
Color and pattern: Earth tones (gray/brown tones with lighter or darker spots) that usually blend with its background. Presents a characteristic light coloured longitudinal band centered in its back. It has several wider transverse dark bands.
Other traits: Eyes with vertical pupil (the animal is nocturnal) and no eyelid. Tubercles arranged in well-defined rows along the gecko’s back, sides and tail (it seems that they are not as prominent as those of T. mauritanica). It has caudal autotomy. Pad lamellae are undivided. Claws present only on the third and fourth fingers of each foot.
Longevity: No information regarding the longevity of this species is currently available [4].
distribution-tarentola-bischoffiGeographic range: Tarentola bischoffi is endemic to the Selvagens archipelago. It occurs in 3 subpopulations isolated from each other: Selvagem Grande, Selvagem Pequena and Ilhéus de Fora (see map). It is related to the Tarentola boettgeri which can be found in El Hierro and Gran Canaria (some authors consider T. bischioff and T. boettgeri the same species). It is believed that these species are related to Tarentola mauritanica of North Africa from which they have diverged about 17 millions years ago [15].
Population: In Selvagem Grande its population is estimated in 10000 animals [15].
Habitat and ecology: Insectivorous. Mainly nocturnal. Found in rocky habitats with sparse vegetation and coastal areas. In Selvagem Grande it occurs from sea-level to the central plateau where it is more abundant. Females lay a clutch of a single egg [16].
Conservation status: Is considered “Least concern” in “The IUCN Red List of Threatned Species” [16] where populations from Selvagens archipelago and Canaries are considered the same species. However, the species is classified as “Vulnerable” in the “Vertebrate Red Book of Portugal” [15] due to its distribution being restricted to The Selvagens archipelago where two islands are susceptible to the sea level rise.

Flower Pot Snake

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA TYPHLOPIDAE

ramphotyphlops-braminus
Species: Ramphotyphlops braminus
Common names: English: Brahminy Blind Snake, Flower Pot Snake.
Size: Length between 6 and 17,5 cm [17]. It’s a small and thin snake often mistaken for earthworms.
Color and pattern: Coloration can be silver/brown to purple.
Other traits: The body is worm-like cylindrical. The head looks like a tail tip (there is no neck). It has rudimentary eyes which consist of two small dots underneath translucent scales (cannot form clear images but can still get light intensity – hence the name “Brahminy Blind Snake“). The tail ends in a small pointed spur. Scales are small, much the same size all over its body. The same sized scales cover its head.
Longevity: There seems to be no information about this species lifespan. However there is a website that refers 10 years.
Geographic range: Native to Asia but can be found in Africa, Australia and Americas. It is considered the most widespread snake of the world [18]. The species was introduced in many islands throughout the world (often carried on the roots of translocated plants). In Canary islands it was first reported in 2004. The first record in Madeira island it’s from 2013, when some locals found some individuals in Funchal (in São Martinho area) [17].
Population: Some of the specimens recorded in 2013, in Funchal, were found more than 1 km apart [17] so, it is believed that a larger population exist in Madeira island.
Habitat and ecology: It eats eggs and larvae of ants and termites. It can also eat any other small insect it might get. This snake is usually found in urban and cultivated areas. Can be found under rocks, rotting logs and on flower pots hence the name “Flower Pot Snake”. It is not venomous or harmful [18]. Spends most of its time underground, in moist conditions, on leaf-litter and humus. This seems to be the only snake species that reproduces asexually [19] by parthenogenesis, which means that all the individuals in a population are genetically identical females. No male was ever found for this species. It is usually viviparous but can also lay eggs.
Conservation status: It is considered an invasive species [20].

References

[1] Jesus, J. (2012). Evidence of high longevity in an Island lacertid, Teira dugesii (Milne-Edwards, 1829). First data on wild specimens. PDF
[2] Sá-Sousa, P. and Sindaco, R. (2009). Teira dugesii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. link
[3] Zuffi, M. et al. (2011). Sexual size and shape dimorphism in the Moorish gecko (Tarentola mauritanica, Gekkota, Phyllodactylidae). PDF
[4] Rocha, R. and Rebelo,R. (2014). Evidence of long-term stability in the iris pattern of Tarentola geckos PDF
[5] Jesus, J. (2008). First record of Tarentola mauritanica (LINNAEUS, 1758) on Porto Santo Island. PDF
[6] Barreiros, J. et al. (2010). First records of Tarentola mauritanica (Linnaeus, 1758) (Reptilia; Gekkonidae) in the Azores. PDF
[7] Vogrin, M. et al. (2009). Tarentola mauritanica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. link
[8] Iturriaga, M. and Marrero, R. (2013). Feeding ecology of the Tropical House Gecko Hemidactylus mabouia (Sauria: Gekkonidae) during the dry season in Havana, Cuba. PDF
[9] image adapted from link
[10] Anjos, L. and Rocha, C. (2008). Reproductive ecology of the invader species gekkonid lizard Hemidactylus mabouia in an area of southeastern Brazil. PDF
[11] Jesus, J. et al. (2002). An introduced population of Hemidactylus mabouia (Moreau de Jonnés, 1818) on Madeira Island. PDF
[12] image adapted from link
[13] Pierre, D. (2012). The Online Guide to the Animals of Trinidad and Tobago – Hemidactylus mabouia (House Gecko or Woodslave). PDF
[14] Gil, C. (2011). Crescimento individual da osga-das-Selvagens (Tarentola bischoffi): influências das variações sazonais na disponibilidade alimentar. PDF
[15] Rebelo, R. (2008). Osga das Selvagens – Atlas dos Anfíbios e Répteis de Portugal. PDF
[16] Sá-Sousa, P. et al. (2009). Tarentola boettgeri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. link
[17] Jesus, J. (2013). First record of Ramphotyphlopsbraminus (dAudiN, 1803) on Madeira island (Portugal). PDF
[18] Florida Museum of Natural History. Brahminy Blind Snake, Flower Pot Snake. link
[19] Ehmann, H. and Bamford, M. (1993) Fauna of Australia Volume 2A, 32-Family Typhlopidae. PDF
[20] Pagad, S. (2010) Global Invasive Species Database. link

Books:

  • Bartlett, R. and Bartlett, P. (1995). Geckos: Everything about Selection, Care, Nutrition, Diseases, Breeding, and Behavior. link
  • Jesus, J. et al. (2009) Vertebrados terrestres autóctones dos arquipélagos da Madeira e Selvagens. link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *