Ruin lizard (Podarcis siculus)

The ruin lizard (Podarcis siculus), which occurs naturally in Italy and along the Dalmatian coast, has formed a small population in the town of Rapperswil (Canton St. Gallen, Switzerland) for over 40 years. The lizards might have been transported from the south in a train wagon filled with nature stones or with legumes or whatever. Other opinions include that the circus or the zoo close to the train station could be responsible.

The population of Rapperswil is one of the few populations living north of the Alps. Other introduced populations in Remigen (Canton Aargau, Switzerland) and Basel (Switzerland) assumably disappeared. In Germany one population is reported from Karlsruhe to be still alive, while other populations in Offenburg and Freiburg went extinct. Here in Rapperswil directly at the lake dam the ruin lizard surely profits from a milder climate during winter because of the Lake Zürich.

The most abundant lizard species of southern Italy has also been introduced to Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United States and Canada. There are a total of at least 48 subspecies of the ruin lizard. A run-over lizard was collected in Rapperswil and used for a DNA test. The result showed that the lizard belongs to the subspecies Podarcis siculus campestris, the northern subspecies of the ruin lizard.