Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis)
Sand Lizards are one of the UK’s rarest reptiles – due to dramatic habitat loss they now only naturally occur on sandy heathland in Surrey, Dorset and Hampshire and coastal sand dune systems in Merseyside. A captive breeding programme has reintroduced sand lizards to further sites in these areas and restored its range with releases in North Wales, Devon, Cornwall and West Sussex. Sand Lizards have a stocky appearance and the males are easily recognisable by their bright green flanks.
|Identification||Adults up to 20 cm in length (including tail). Short-legged and stocky with a short, deep head. Colour is variable: shades of grey and brown. Dark band down centre of back (may contain dark or light blotches). Usually two strong stripes down the back. Dark spots, ocelli (marking that resembles an eye) or mottling on sides. Males develop bright green flanks during the breeding season.|
|Distribution||Native to the UK. One of the UK’s rarest reptiles. Patchy distribution with populations found in coastal areas in the south and west of the UK. Small population found on Isle of Coll in Scotland. Found across most of Europe, Mongolia, southern Russia, northern China, and northern Turkey. Reintroduced to sites in North Wales, Devon, Cornwall and West Sussex.|
|Ecology||UK’s only native egg-laying lizard. Lives on sandy heathland and coastal sand dunes. Requires sandy ground in sunny spots in which to dig burrows for egg-laying and shelter. Feeds on fruit and flower heads as well as insects, slugs and spiders.|
|Predators and other threats||Can drop its tail if caught by a predator. Threatened by degradation and loss of heathland and coastal habitats.|
A year in the life…Spring
Adult lizards emerge from their hibernation sites in spring; breeding takes place during April and May. Sand Lizards are dependent on well managed heathland or sand dune habitats. They bask in sunny spots close to mature vegetation. They feed on fruit and flower heads as well as insects, slugs and spiders.
Females lay their eggs in May/June; the eggs are buried in sand which is exposed to sun, allowing them to keep warm. Between August and early October the eggs hatch and juvenile lizards emerge.
Between August and early October the eggs hatch and juvenile lizards emerge.
Sand Lizards hibernate between November and March.
N.B. Sand lizards have full legal protection under UK law making it an offence to kill, injure, capture, disturb or sell them, or to damage or destroy their habitats. This applies to all life-stages.