• Christopher Mounsey

Balkan Green? Or plain, old regular green?

Updated: May 8, 2020

Telling the difference between the Balkan green lizard (Lacerta trilineata) and the Green lizard (L. viridis) can be a difficult job indeed. Especially if you can't see underneath. You've got to look at subtle clues such as the shape of the head or the number of temporal scales. It needs a lot of experience. And it's made even more difficult because of the variety in the Green lizard throughout it's European range. Do a Google Image search for it and see what we mean.

So what about these two guys that we found battling it out on the island of Ayios Achillios in Prespa? Can you guess which they are?

We'll hold our hands up and admit we can't. But fortunately for us, we're able to ask Ilias at Herpetofauna.gr for their expertise. And here's what he told us:

"Ah! This one's very difficult indeed. It is actually L. trilineata, the Balkan green, but there is a morphotype of L. viridis that can be found at high altitudes in and around Prespa which, confusingly, looks just like this. It's very similar to L. trilineata, but without the commonly seen blue throat of viridis and also with a massive head.

But this one has a short, pointy snout and, with the colours, it indicates L. trilineata.

It's very difficult sometimes to distinguish between those two. Experienced herpetologists would find it hard with some of these morphotypes."

So should you be in the region and have a photo that also needs confirmation, make sure to visit www.herpetofauna.gr , which is in both English and Greek, or send them a message via their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/herpetofauna.gr

Green lizard

Lacerta viridis



European midlatitudes from Slovenia and eastern Austria to the Black Sea coasts of Ukraine and Turkey.


Length: 40cm+ total. Body can be 15cm (end of nose to cloaca (it's bum)) and tail at least double.

Male has large head, green on back but with small spots, and a bluish throat.

Female more slender, with less blue throat.

Balkan green lizard

Lacerta trilineata


Balkan countries through to Turkey, Israel and Syria.


Length: 40cm+ total. Body can be 16cm (end of nose to cloaca (it's bum)) and tail at least double.

Male has different green patterns on their back but all have a broad head with small cheeks and a narrow snout. Seven subspecies have been recorded in Greece.

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