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Species native to the United Kingdom
Introduced or alien species
Alien species that present a threat to wildlife

Sand Lizard - Lacerta agilis - Native

 

Identification

Lizard - scaly skin

Fast moving, but not as nimble as the Common Lizard (Lacerta vivipara)

Dorsal Surface, very variable, the back and sides are a grey-brown or brownish and the flanks sometimes strewn with dark patches with light centres. Individuals may show various patterns of broken stripes and spots. Males sometimes show a vivid grass green colouration.

Ventral Surface, whitish grey with spots

The young are very similar to the adults, though colouration is less vivid.

Length: 16cm - 20 cm

Sand Lizard - male
Sand Lizard - female

Breeding and young

Sand Lizards emerge from hibernation in March or April. Mating occurs in early summer from May to June.

The Sand Lizard is the only native lizard to lay eggs (Oviparous), which are deposited in burrows dug by the females during June and July in loose sand. The eggs hatch in approx 1-2 months depending on weather conditions.



Female Sand Lizard at burrow entrance
Sand Lizard - female
© Tony Phelps Reptile Research & Imagery
Reproduced with the kind permission of Surrey Wildlife Trust

The males often develop a very vivid green colouration on emergence from hibernation and in preparation for the breeding season. The males enter into elaborate displays to attract a mate.



Male Sand Lizard showing bright green colouration typical in the breeding season.
Sand Lizard - male
© Tony Phelps Reptile Research & Imagery

What else could it be?

The Sand Lizard is of similar general appearance to the Common Lizard. Adult Sand Lizards are often considerably bigger than Common Lizards and appear more stocky and have proportionally larger heads. If you see a wild lizard that has vivid green colouration it is unmistakably a Sand Lizard.



Male Sand Lizard
Sand Lizard - male
© Tony Phelps Reptile Research & Imagery

Where will I see a Sand Lizard?

Sand Lizards are extremely rare and secretive. At one time confined to a handful of sites in the UK.

The Sand Lizard occupies habitat very similiar to the Smooth Snake, all the sites that this lizard occupies in the UK are on heathland or adjacent to heathland.

Recent reintroductions and the efforts of both official and voluntary organisations to provide suitable habitat, will hopefully ensure that numbers will increase.

Sand Lizard - male
© Tony Phelps Reptile Research & Imagery

Male Sand Lizard after skin shedding. Part of the shed skin can be seen in the lower right of the picture, note the vivid and fresh colouration, typical of reptiles that have recently shed their skin.

The Sand Lizard is an endangered species and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

It is an offence to disturb these lizards in any way

Kill, harm or injure them

Cause damage to their habitat

Possess, sell or trade them in any way


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