Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara)
|Identification||Adults up to 15 cm in length (including tail). Males have a larger head and slimmer body than females, and prominent swelling at the base of the tail. Usually a shade of brown but colour variants include yellow, green and black. Pattern of spots and/or stripes down the back. Males have a yellow/orange belly with black spots. Females have a pale, unspotted belly. Often mistaken for newts. Lizards have scaly, rather than smooth, skin and move away very quickly when disturbed.|
|Distribution||Native to the UK. Widespread throughout the UK, including Ireland, but numbers thought to be declining. Found throughout central and northern Europe.|
|Ecology||Essentially a ground-dweller but may be seen climbing. Favours open sunny places and dry, exposed locations near to dense cover. Feed on worms, slugs and insects.|
|Predators and other threats||Can drop its tail if caught by a predator. Numbers thought to be declining in the UK due to habitat loss and degradation.|
A year in the life…Spring
Adult lizards emerge from their hibernation sites in early spring. Mating takes place around April.
Females incubate the eggs inside themselves and ‘give birth’ to up to 11 live young around July/August. Juvenile lizards are tiny – less than 5cm long – and are darker in colour than the adults.
Lizards spend the next couple of months feeding up on invertebrates in preparation for winter.
They feed on worms, slugs and insects and give their prey a good shake, to stun it, before swallowing.
Common Lizards hibernate, often in groups, amongst rocks or dead wood generally between November and March. They may take advantage of milder patches of weather to come out and forage.