Photos: rats drive island lizard to extinction

Jeremy Hance
June 29, 2010

The Selmunett lizard (Podarcis filfolensis ssp. Kieselbachi) is very likely extinct, according to Maltese naturalist Arnold Sciberras. One of four subspecies of the Maltese wall lizard, the Selmunett lizard was last seen in 2005. Although the lizard's home—Selmunett Island—has long been uninhabited by people, that fact did not help save the lizard. Over-predation by introduced rats is thought to be the primary cause of lizard's extinction.

A number of surveys have failed to turn up the lizard and its extinction published, yet the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) still considers the subspecies as surviving, according to MaltaToday.

"MEPA doesn’t want to acknowledge that its conservation attempts have failed in some cases," Sciberras told the local news organization.

The Selmunett lizard is a member of the wall lizard family, known as Lacertidae, which are present in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Other subspecies of the Maltese wall lizard survive on islands off of Malta and Italy.

A male Selmunett lizard. Photo by: Arnold Sciberras.

The Selmunett lizard. Photo by: Arnold Sciberras.

The Selmunett lizard. Photo by: Arnold Sciberras.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (June 29, 2010).

Photos: rats drive island lizard to extinction.