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Re: NFC: Italian Wall Lizards in Topeka


I've never seen one of them.  Apparently their distribution is relatively
confined.  I found this article in the archives of our local newspaper.

 Collegiate students show and tell about rare lizards            
 By HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH                                        
 The Capital-Journal                                             
 Sixth-grade students at Topeka Collegiate sat on the edge of    
 their seats Friday as an amateur herpetologist from Germany     
 examined two species of European lizards that have made their   
 homes near the elementary school.                               
 The two species -- the Podarcis and possibly the Lacerta -- are 
 endangered in Europe but thrive in auto repair shops, churches  
 and backyards near both sides of S.W. Gage from about 23rd      
 Street to 17th Street. Members of both species apparently       
 escaped from a commercial animal dealer near S.W. 21st and Gage 
 during the 1950s. Both species have established themselves in   
 the area.                                                       
 Dr. Guntram Deichsel is a biostatistician for a pharmaceutical  
 company, but his hobby is reptiles and amphibians, which is the 
 reason for his detour to Kansas from Connecticut, where he      
 traveled on business earlier this week.                         
 Deichsel had read in the Audubon Society's reptile and          
 amphibian field guide that the Lacerta lizard, which is dark    
 green and about 18 inches long, is found in Topeka.             
 The Lacerta was once thought to be a single species, but it was 
 discovered three years ago that it is two species. The lizards  
 look nearly identical as adults, although differences can be    
 detected among the young.                                       
 The Lacerta was commonly called the European green lizard, but  
 the scientific discovery has resulted in the single species     
 dividing into two separate species -- the western green lizard  
 and the eastern green lizard.                                   
 Deichsel, who is interested in determining which species the    
 Topeka lizard belongs to and correcting the reptile and         
 amphibian handbooks, contacted one of the Audubon authors and   
 was referred to John Simmons, collection manager at the Museum  
 of Natural History at the University of Kansas.                 
 Simmons referred Deichsel to Joseph T. Collins, professor       
 emeritus at KU and founder and director of the Center for North 
 American Amphibians and Reptiles, who referred Deichsel to      
 Topeka Collegiate science teacher Larry Miller.                 
 Miller's students have conducted annual amphibian and reptile   
 counts and photographed species that were pictured in several   
 versions of Collins' field guide.                               
 As Deichsel flipped the lizard over in his hands Friday, he     
 told the students there was an 80 percent likelihood the        
 creature was a western green lizard. But he couldn't be sure    
 until he could examine a young lizard, which the students       
 hadn't managed to capture.                                      
 The cold and rainy drizzle on Friday meant the creatures were   
 likely seeking cover, and Deichsel would need to pray for warm  
 weather before his return trip to Germany on Sunday.            
 Miller conducted a summer class three years ago called "In      
 Search of the Green Lacerta." He sent fliers to neighbors,      
 asking them to collect the lizard, but none were caught during  
 the weeklong class.                                             
 The day after the class ended, a neighbor brought in a Lacerta, 
 and there has been a steady stream since.                       
 "Last year this time people were bringing in young lizards all  
 the time," Miller said, "but we didn't know."                   
 Copyright 1998 The Topeka Capital-Journal                       

Steve Haslouer
Environmental Scientist III
Bureau of Environmental Field Services
Kansas Department of Health and Environment
1000 SW Jackson St., Suite 430
Topeka, KS   66612-1367

(785) 296 - 0079