Common or Viviparous lizard (Lacerta Zootoca vivipara)
Common lizards can be found on most of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ nature reserves. But although they are widespread, common lizards are recorded as declining across the UK. However, there are ways in which you can help…
As spring approaches the Common Lizard or Viviparous Lizard is emerging from hibernation. They hibernate communally in dead wood or piles of rocks from November-March. The Common Lizard is Brown-grey in colour but can vary to shades of red often with darker markings along their sides and backs. When fully grown, adults can measure 13-15cm and live for up to 12 years.
As the UK’s most common reptile, it is found throughout the country. Their habitat includes: commons, heaths, moorland, sea cliffs, dry stone walls, rough grassland and woodland edges. As reptiles are cold blooded the Common Lizard can be found on warm days basking in open spaces, on rocks and even fence posts to raise its body temperature in order to hunt. They eat a variety of invertebrates from spiders to slugs and earthworms.
Common lizards are viviparous (produce live young), a reptilian adaptation common in colder climates. They mate once in April and the female carries the eggs inside her, incubating them before ‘giving birth’ to live young.
Common lizards are an important food source for species such as foxes, corvids, hawks and even other reptiles. To avoid being eaten they have developed a defence mechanism called autotomy, where, when under threat, they drop the end of their tails in order to escape.
The Wildlife Trust have been creating appropriate habitats and monitoring the species in order to help reverse the decline in numbers. The reasons behind the decline are believed to be fragmentation and loss of habitat due to urbanisation and intensification of farming. There are a few different things that you can do in your own back garden in order to help encourage common lizards into your garden, such as leaving rock piles so that they have an area to bask in the sunshine and raise their body temperature. You can also create log piles which will provide them with an ideal habitat to hibernate in.