Book on reptiles and amphibians in Spain

27/02/2006 I recently bought Anfibios y Reptiles de la Peninsula Iberica e Islas Baleares (Guias Verdes) by Toni Aragon Rebollo, 2006. 39 euros or thereabouts. This is a very well organised and clearly written guide. Before the field guide itself, there is an ample introduction on the status of herps in Spain and a fascinating section on their place in Spanish folklore, from which I’ve quickly translated this on lizards.

In the north of the Peninsula, it was believed that lizards were friends of men, while snakes were related to women. They told that lizards would leap at women during their period (Translator’s note: My mother-in-law has told me about this). Similarly in Seville , geckos were said to chase after women. There also stories of lizards climbing into women’s vaginas while they slept. In the southeast there is the belief that if you come across a lizard with two tails and you put it in a plate scattered with flour, it will draw the winning numbers in the lottery (two-tailed lizards occasionally occur when a new one is regrown without the old having been totally severed). Another belief related to lizards tails is that they are a cure warts. This belief should be combated as the loss of its tail can cause great harm.

There is also lots information on the folklore around individual species in the field guide part. On the Turkish gecko we have for example:

Murcia they are known as pelás. This comes from the “powers” they are said to have. It is thought that if you misfortunate enough for a gecko to fall on your head you will go bald as a coot. In some villages just the mere spit from a gecko is enough to leave you hairless”.

All no doubt true, although biologists claim that geckos can’t spit. Thoroughly recommended. Good drawings and photos too.

See Foroum on this Book on Spanish reptiles and amphibians

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