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Lizards (Lacertidae; Ukrainian: ящірки; yashchirky). A family of the suborder Sauria of the order Squamata, class Reptilia, representing a large group of scaly reptiles found throughout the world in tropical and temperate zones; its genus Lacerta includes most of the species of European lizards. Lizards are multicolored and blend with their surroundings. Most feed on insects and small invertebrates, some eat snails and crabs, and others are vegetarians. Lizard eggs, enclosed in a soft, leathery shell, are laid under rocks, in crevices, or in the sand. In Ukraine the green lizard (Lacerta viridis) lives in the steppe on the right bank of the Dnipro River. The fast lizard (Lacerta agilis) is found all over Ukraine. The viviparous lizard (Lacerta vivipara) inhabits areas of Polisia, the northwestern forest-steppe, and the Carpathian Mountains. The Crimean lizard (Lacerta taurica) lives along the shores of the Black Sea. The cliff lizard (Lacerta saxicola) is also a Crimean native. The blindworm (Anguis fragilis; Ukrainian: veretinnytsia) has an apodal body and is found throughout Ukraine, with the exception of the Crimea and some steppe regions. The rare scheltopusik (Ophisaurus apodus; Ukrainian: zhovtobriukh; Russian: zheltopuzik), a reddish brown, legless lizard up to 1.5 m long, can be found in the dense vegetation of the Crimea and the Caucasus Mountains. The sand lizard (Eremias arquata) inhabits semidesert, arid steppe, and forest-steppe areas. Other species include the Crimean gecko (Gymnodactylus kotshyi), the multicolored chameleon (Chameleon deremensis), the steppe lizard (Agama sanguinolenta), and the short-tail lizard (Trachysaurus rugosus).

Ihor Masnyk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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