Herpetofauna of Europe : sistema central - spain & portugal (september 2005)
Herpetofauna of Europe European Amphibians & Reptiles

Herpetological trip to Sistema Central (Spain & Portugal)
24th of September - 2nd of October 2005

All pictures (c) of Jeroen Speybroeck.

This trip was mainly directed to seeing the three central Iberian rock lizard species. The main areas we visited were Sierra de Guadarrama, Sierra de Gredos, Serra da Estrela and Extremadura. Rains hadn't started yet so we were allowed to observe all three lizards. Furthermore, about three quarters of the herpetofauna of the prospected area was observed - a rather satisfying result, given the extensive drought the area had suffered during the previous months. We were especially pleased with four Lataste's Vipers (Vipera latastei) in the Sierra de Gredos. We were nine people: Jan, Peter, Anniek, Elfriede, Gerd, Gijs, Bram, Eric and myself.

I am indebted to a number of people for their hints concerning this trip: Daniel Escoriza, Pierre-André Crochet, Philippe Geniez, Lasse Bergendorf, Per Blomberg and Anders Selmer.

overview of prospected sites

24th of September - Puerto de Navacerrada and Charcas de los Camorchos

It took some traffic jams before we could start herping but finally we reached our first goal, the Puerto de Navacerrada in the Sierra de Guadarrama. Here, we soon found Cyren's Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta cyreni). Jan also saw a Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis). Next stop was a small amphibian reserve in the Manzanares park. During a previous visit, Jan had seen quite some species here. However, the waters had mainly dried out now. The single remaining pond contained Viperine Snake (Natrix maura), Iberian Water Frog (Pelophylax perezi) and some terrapins, apparently turning out to be Red-eared Terrapin (Trachemys scripta elegans). Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica), Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus) and Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus "morphotype 1") were observed nearby.

Puerto de Navacerrada

Cyren's Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta cyreni cyreni)

Peter and Bram harassing a lizard and Eric keeping an eye on them

25th of September - Sierra de Gredos

We stopped near the camp site of San Martin de Pimpollar and found Iberian Wall Lizard - morphotype 1, Schreiber's Green Lizard (Lacerta schreiberi) and Iberian Stream Frog (Rana iberica). Next was the famous 'la Plataforma' were we found Cyren's Rock Lizard, Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca), Schreiber's Green Lizard, Iberian Stream Frog and Viperine Snake. Along the road west of Hoyos del Espino, a short stop with Iberian Water Frog and a lot of Iberian Wall Lizard and juvenile Schreiber's Green Lizard. Finally, another stop at a dump site with only Iberian Wall Lizard.

juvenile Schreiber's Green Lizard (Lacerta schreiberi

Gijs and Peter at la Plataforma

Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)

Viperine Snake (Natrix maura)

Cyren's Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta cyreni castiliana)

Iberian Stream Frog (Rana iberica)

26th of September - Sierra de Gredos (2)

We went back into the Gredos mountains and were able to add that one highly desired species to our list, Lataste's Viper (Vipera latastei). The first animal was seen by Jan and myself but got away - waiting, searching and digging didn't help. A couple of us went on for a walk to a lake and others went back to the car to have a bite to eat, leaving Jan searching vipers all by himself... Being a little careless and using only his (in)famous dish-washing gloves, Jan got bitten by one of two vipers sun-bathing together. Most of the venom stayed on the glove and apart from walking around with a swollen hand for a few days, Jan was as OK as possible.


Lataste's Viper (Vipera latastei) habitat

Jan's viper bite

Lataste's Viper (Vipera latastei)



Peter, Bram, Jan, Gijs and viper

27th of September – from Gredos to Peña de Francia

This day we moved to find the rarest of the three rock lizards, the Peña de Francia Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta martinezricai). First stop was at the Puerto de la Peña Negra, were we only found a Smooth Snake and Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita). Before we passed Bejar, we made another stop along the road where we found Large Psammodromus, Spiny-footed Lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus), Iberian Water Frog and Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus). We ended our drive on top of the Peña de Francia and found a number of juvenile rock lizards. We stayed in the hostal on the summit.


Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus)

view over Peña de Francia

Gyps fulvus

Peña de Francia Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta martinezricai)


Capra pyrenaica

28th of September – from Peña de Francia to Estrela

The day started with another search for the same rock lizard species. Only Gerd could observe an adult. We drove down to the crossroad leading to the mountain, where we were hoping to find Carbonell's Wall Lizard (Podarcis carbonelli). Only Iberian Wall Lizard was seen but also Schreiber's Green Lizard, Common Toad (Bufo bufo), Large Psammodromus and Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra). Subsequently, we left Spain and found another Iberian Wall Lizard as our first Portuguese herp, at a gas station just past the border. We drove on to the Torre peak of Serra da Estrela and found Natterjack toad, Common Midwife Toad (Alytes obstetricans) and Iberian Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta monticola). Afterwards, we went downhill to Sabugueiro where we spent the night. After dinner, we explored the village's waterbodies and found Iberian Stream Frog, Marbled Newt (Triturus marmoratus), Common Midwife Toad, Common Toad and Golden-striped Salamander (Chioglossa lusitanica).


Schreiber's Green Lizard (Lacerta schreiberi)

Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus "morphotype 1")

Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra bejarae)

Iberian Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta monticola)

lizard habitat on Torre with herp-hunters glued to the rocks

Marbled Newt (Triturus marmoratus)

Common Midwife Toad (Alytes obstetricans)   

Golden-striped Salamander (Chioglossa lusitanica)

chatting about herps with local people

29th of September – Serra da Estrela (2)

First search stop near the Lagoa Comprida, where only Peter could see a Western Three-toed Skink (Chalcides striatus) but him and the others all saw other species like Iberian Rock Lizard, Iberian Wall Lizard, Common Midwife Toad, Edible Frog (Pelophylax kl. esculentus - known introduction site?), Iberian Stream Frog, Grass Snake (Natrix natrix), Marbled Newt and Bosca's Newt (Lissotriton boscai). Furthermore, we explored a water tank near Seia (Iberian Stream Frog, Bosca's Newt, Fire Salamander and Golden-striped Salamander) and a meadow near Sabugueiro (only Iberian Stream Frog). This concluded the mountain episode of the trip.

Bosca's Newt (Lissotriton boscai)

30th of September – from Estrela to Extremadura

We started our way back east and after a long drive, we explored los Barruecos, south of Malpartida de Cáceres. We found Large Psammodromus, Iberian Water Frog, Spanish Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa), Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis) and Iberian Wall Lizard. Second stop was near the Embalse de Casillas, where we found Large Psammodromus, Moorish Gecko, Iberian Wall Lizard, Spiny-footed Lizard and Iberian Water Frog. Next, we drove to the Rio Almonte. The water level was very low but we saw Spanish Terrapin and -at last!- a first Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus). Because we hadn't expected the Almonte to be so dry, we drove back to Rio Tozo with only Iberian Water Frog, Large Psammodromus and Spanish Terrapin. We drove on to Torrejon el Rubio, where we spent two nights. At night, in and around one of the very few nearby ponds we found Iberian Water Frog, Southern Marbled Newt and Sharp-ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl).


Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus)

amphibian pond near Torrejon el Rubio

Sharp-ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl)

Spanish Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa)

1st of October – Extremadura (2)

We explored a nice valley near Villarreal de San Carlos. We found Iberian Water Frog, Common Toad, Montpellier Snake, Large Psammodromus, Iberian Wall Lizard and Iberian Worm Lizard (Blanus cinereus). Near the Tietar river, we explored a small brook running through a meadow and found Iberian Water Frog, Spanish Terrapin, Grass Snake, Viperine Snake, Natterjack Toad, Large Psammodromus and Moorish Gecko.

Iberian Worm Lizard (Blanus cinereus) in defensive pose

young Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

Grass Snake (Natrix natrix astreptophora)

Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita)


2nd of October - from Extremadura back to Madrid

No extra herp species to add to our list on this final day but several interesting species of dragonflies (Orthetrum trinacria, Brachythemis leucosticta, Paragomphus genei, Trithemis annulata, Anax parthenope, Ischnura graellsi) at the Embalse de Arrocampo-Almaraz provided a nice final few hours of exploration and photography.

Trithemis annulata

Orthetrum trinacria

Brachythemis leucosticta

Paragomphus genei

our only Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus) ...

List of the observed species

1. Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra) - ssp. bejarae

2. Golden-striped Salamander (Chioglossa lusitanica)

3. Sharp-ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl)

4. Marbled Newt (Triturus marmoratus)

5. Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus)

6. Bosca's Newt (Lissotriton boscai)

7. Common Midwife Toad (Alytes obstetricans)

8. Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

9. Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita)

10. Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis)

11. Iberian Stream Frog (Rana iberica)

12. Edible Frog (Pelophylax kl. esculentus) - exogenous

13. Iberian Water Frog (Pelophylax perezi)

14. Spanish Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa)

15. Red-eared Terrapin (Trachemys scripta elegans)

16. Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica)

17. Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus)

18. Spiny-footed Lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus)

19. Schreiber's Green Lizard (Lacerta schreiberi)

20. Cyren's Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta cyreni) - sspp. cyreni and castiliana

21. Peña de Francia Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta martinezricai)

22. Iberian Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta monticola) - ssp. monticola

23. Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus "morphotype 1")

24. Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)

25. Western Three-toed Skink (Chalcides striatus)

26. Iberian Worm Lizard (Blanus cinereus)

27. Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

28. Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)

29. Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)

30. Viperine Snake (Natrix maura)

31. Lataste's Viper (Vipera latastei)

What we missed …

As this was an autumn trip, we missed quite some species. In spite of several searches at known sites, Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus) may be our most surprising 'failure'.

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