The common lizard - one of our three native lizards


The common lizard - one of our three native lizards

The common lizard is one of three native lizards in Britain. It gives "birth" to live young and has a removable tail.

The common lizard is widespread across the British Isles, and is the only land reptile native to Ireland, although it is absent from much of the Hebrides, Shetland and Orkney.

Numbers, however, are thought to be in decline due to habitat loss.

Highly variable in colour, this small lizard can be found in a wide range of habitats including sea cliffs, moorlands, grasslands, woodlands, crags and around dry-stone walls.

It basks in the warmth of the sun along woodland edges, sunny glades and rides - staying close to dense cover so it can quickly hide among twigs, logs and leaves.

The common lizard can be seen from early spring through until late autumn, but chances are particularly good on sunny mornings in April and October.

Like other lizards it can shed its still-wriggling tail to distract predators, while it makes its escape. The tail will regrow, though this replacement is often shorter and somewhat stumpier.

The common lizard is also known as the Viviparous Lizard – the word viviparous meaning that it gives birth to live young, having incubated the eggs inside the body. 

The common lizard feeds on small invertebrates such as flies, spiders and even snails. It hunts by day using sight and scent, warming its body first by basking in the sun.

Further reading

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