Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata)
This stunning, brightly coloured lizard is native to the Channel Islands and has been introduced to the UK mainland. It can be spotted in a few areas in Southern England and has successfully bred in the wild here.
|Identification||Adults up to 35 cm in length (including tail). (Largest lizard encountered in the UK.) Stocky body and relatively short head. Overall green colouration. Females: very variable in colour but may be green or brown, sometimes with dark blotches. Often have 2 or 4 narrow, white lines (sometimes edged with darks spots) on flanks. Males: usually green with stippling on body. Dark coloured head with light spots. Mature males have a blue throat and cheeks. Juveniles: beige, often with dark spots or white lines on flanks. Long tail: often twice body length.|
|Distribution||Non-native species. Found in southern areas of England. Native to Jersey. Native to, and common across, continental Europe.|
|Ecology||Active during the day. Prefer densely vegetated habitats, such as woodland, scrub or heathland that is close to open, sunny areas. Sexual maturity is reached in second spring. Males are very territorial and often fight, especially during the mating period. Females lay 6 to 25 eggs (13-20 mm in length) in humid, warm sites. Incubation period is 7-15 weeks.|
|Predators and other threats||The Green Lizard has a wide range of predators. These include a range of mammals such as martens, weasels, badgers, foxes and domestic cats. They may also be predated upon by a variety of birds including Common Buzzard, Kestrel and corvids (crows) as well as snakes. The eggs may also be predated upon by Brown Rat.
The Green Lizard is classified as ‘least concern’ by the IUCN due to its wide ranging distribution and presumed large population. It is however listed under appendix III of the Bern Convention and appendix IV of the European Union Habitats Directive as well as being classified as ‘vulnerable’ in Switzerland. The Green Lizard is protected by national legislation across its native range. The Green Lizard does face pressure in its native range from agricultural intensification, use of pesticides and habitat loss through burning of scrubland and groves.
N.B. The release of exotic species into the wild is a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.