Lizards, Geckos and other reptiles on the Costa Blanca

Reptiles like sun, dry conditions and plenty of hiding spaces, so Spain is much to their liking. Here are some you may see. Two widespread gecko species for example, frequent rock walls and houses in cities and country. The Moorish gecko  is very widespread. The Turkish gecko is slightly smaller than the Moorish Gecko and found along coastal regions. These insect hunters frequent bug-attracting lights and are a familiar summer sight. Geckos can climb even the most slippery surface with ease and hang from glass using a single toe. The secret behind this extraordinary climbing skill lies with millions of tiny keratin hairs - called setae - on the surface of each foot. An intermolecular phenomenon known as van der Waals force is exerted by each of these hairs. Although the force is individually miniscule, the millions of hairs collectively produce a powerful adhesive effect.

Mainland Spain is home to 16 species of Lizard. The largest is the ocellated lizard. This blue-spotted green reptile grows to 20 inches or longer, living in a variety of habitats throughout Spain, from sea level to 6,000 feet. Highway margins, olive groves, and vineyards fit the bill in many warm areas, where stone walls, rock piles, rabbit holes, and shrubs provide cover for these hunters. When not being hunted by hawks, eagles, foxes, and other predators, ocellated lizards eat mainly insects, but also other lizards (including geckos), small mammals including baby rabbits, birds' eggs, and fruit.

The Large Psammodromus ( Psammodromus algirus ) seems to be the most common lizard in Spain (occuring also in southeastern France). This species prefers shrub-steppe habitats, mediterranean forests, macchia or hedges of Opuntia (like the one shown here). Snout-vent length is up to 8 cm, but the tail is twice or even thrice times as long.

Spiny-footed Lizard, up to 23 cm long lizard, this inhabits dry, open areas. Their feet have little fringes which enable the reptile to run on loose sand and not to sink in ('snowshoe effect').

The Common Toad - Bufo Bufo seems to thrive in any damp areas, around springs and in the valley bottoms. You will see some huge tadpoles in some of the streams and ponds, and even the old wash houses, these are toads.

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