Lizards: in my garden
I think I have lizards in my garden, what do I do?
Try to keep your garden reptile-friendly and make sure you submit records to local groups.
Lizards may reside in gardens if there are suitable habitats. Try to identify the areas where you see the lizard/s and simply maintain them as they are. If these features disappear the lizards might do too.
Like all reptiles, lizards need places to bask, places to forage for food and places to shelter and hibernate in. They can often be found in/near compost heaps (particularly slow-worms), among log piles or in and around a rockery. Dry-stone walls can also be important havens for Common Lizards. They primarily feed on slugs and insects and can be found in areas supporting lots of prey that are within easy reach of nooks and crannies to escape to.
It’s important to report your sightings to help build up local and national records of these declining species. Get in touch with your local Biological Records Centre and/or record your sightings through our free Dragon Finder app.
How do I encourage lizards in to my garden/on to my land?
Simply by maintaining accessible, reptile-friendly habitats – if they can get there, they probably will at some point.
Lizards, like all reptiles, need places to warm themselves, places to forage for food and places to shelter and hibernate in. They can often be found near compost heaps or amongst rockeries or log piles. These are good places to both shelter and forage in. Common Lizards enjoy basking on south-facing banks within easy reach of places to escape to whereas Slow-Worms prefer to warm themselves under objects – such as within compost heaps or under logs.
Whether you see reptiles in your garden depends largely on whether they are in the local area and can access it in the first place.
I’ve seen slow-worms in my compost heap, when is it safe to disturb them?
Avoid turning/using compost in winter and late summer.
Slow-Worms are commonly found in compost heaps as they’re a good place to both shelter and forage; slow-worms prefer to warm up underneath objects rather than basking out in the open.
Whilst this is great for Slow-Worms it can be tricky for you when it comes to using your compost. Try to avoid disturbing the heap during the winter, when they will be hibernating, and during late summer when females could be giving birth. At other times of year it’s just a case of being careful when using the heap so as not to injure any potential residents – frogs, toads and grass snakes may all make use of compost heaps as well. Remember, all native reptiles are protected by law against deliberate killing and injury.
If you have a substantial reptile and/or amphibian population using the compost heap it may be worth considering creating a separate one for you to use that they can’t access.
I’ve disturbed a lizard from hibernation what should I do?
Re-cover or relocate to a similar habitat, it should be fine.
Lizards spend the very coldest weather hibernating but milder patches can encourage them to move around. For this reason, if you do disturb a hibernating lizard it shouldn’t cause any damage.
It’s best to leave the lizard where you found it and re-cover to protect from weather and predators. If this is not possible, relocate it to a similar habitat near by. Don’t be tempted to try and help it by bringing it indoors – once it warms up it will need to eat and finding food will be very difficult. It’s far better for it to be in its natural surroundings where it can readjust.