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Aquatic Common Lizard

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Herpetofauna Native to the UK
Forum Name: Common Lizard
Forum Description: Forum for all issues concerning Lacerta vivipara
Printed Date: 18 Jan 2020 at 6:29am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 -

Topic: Aquatic Common Lizard
Posted By: Mark_b
Subject: Aquatic Common Lizard
Date Posted: 30 Jul 2011 at 6:32pm
Hello there,
I was looking around one of my favourite ponds today when I spotted something unusual.
I peered into the pond and saw a palmate sitting on the benthos, then next to the newt I saw a common lizard walking along beside it...... I hadn't heard the plop of it jumping in when I approached so I was slightly confused. I removed it from the water and placed it in some heather and moved away so I didn't pose a threat, straight away it jumped back in to its original spot......
I then started recording it's behaviour....
edit/ So I was triyng to encourage it out of the water, I never thought it would be so keen to dive in!
If you switch from 360 to 720HD in the bottom right corner it will be better quality.... -


Posted By: Iowarth
Date Posted: 30 Jul 2011 at 8:44pm

Hi Mark

Funnily enough the behaviour is not so odd as you might think. But to see it so well recorded is extremely unusual. Many Lacertids will dive into water as a means of escape from a potential predator (although I have never seen it with Podarcis). One species, Lacerta schreiberii is renowned for it - but it is far from unique.

Over the years I have seen Timon lepidus, Lacerta agilis, bilineata, viridis, strigata (and, of course, schreiberii) and Zootoca vivipara jumping into water to escape a perceived threat, taking food from the surface of the water (but never under water) and simply swimming from A to B as the quickest route.

I should imagine the persistence of this individual simply arose out of its perception of you as a threat (never seems to matter how nicely we talk to them, wild lizards don't seem to believe we wouldn't dream of eating them! Smile )

Again though - what a superb record! Clap

All the best


Chris Davis, Site Administrator

Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme (RETIRED)

Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 30 Jul 2011 at 10:50pm
fantastic! thanks for posting.ive seen vivs swimming but never sat at the bottom of the pool quite happily.

thorougly enjoyable. cheers mark


Posted By: Noodles
Date Posted: 01 Aug 2011 at 10:25am
That's really interesting how it is behaving underwater.

I saw a similar thing from a slow-worm in a pond once. Its mid to lower body were hidden under submerged leaf litter in the margins and its head and upper body were flat on the water's surface (a bit like a sand eel under water). When i approached the animal completely submerged and wriggled under the submerged leaf litter. It remained there hidden for over five minutes until i left it alone, fearing it might drown.

Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 02 Aug 2011 at 9:02pm
Fascinating. Thanks for sharing that video. Maybe the common lizard thought it was a newt?

Posted By: kit
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2011 at 1:39pm
no it was a common lizard and that is so cool


Posted By: Ewan
Date Posted: 17 Apr 2015 at 2:15pm
I managed to film one doing something similar on 25/7/11 in Galloway Scotland, diving in to escape me and hiding underwater for ~30 seconds. Been meaning to do a quick Natural History note for the Herpetological Bulletin ever since but not quite managed yet - perhaps we could do a joint one!

Video here:" rel="nofollow -


Ewan Shilland
Contract Research Scientist
Environmental Change Research Centre
University College London

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