Common lizard

Latin name: Zootoca viviparacommon lizard

Length: 10 – 16cm

Where: Sunny patches on moors, heaths and bogs are some of their favourite habitats

When: Daytime, spring and summer

The hardiest of all reptiles, you can even find common lizards in the north of Scotland. It’s for this reason that the females incubate their eggs inside their bodies to keep them warmer – leading to their Latin name ‘vivipara’, which means ‘live young’.

Common lizards have dry, scaly skin in mottled shades of green, grey, copper and black. If you’re lucky enough to see its underside you can tell whether it’s a male of a female. Males have an orangy-yellow belly, females creamy-white.

They hibernate from October to March, when there is not enough warmth in the sun, or enough food, to energise them. In fact the best time to find them is early on a sunny spring morning. You find them sunbathing in dry, sheltered spots on the moors, heaths and bogs that are their favourite habitats. Move quietly. If disturbed they are fast movers, darting for cover under a stone or log to escape attention. Don’t try to catch one either, as you might get more than you bargained for. They have the ability to shed their tails to escape predators. Luckily another will grow in its place, though never as long and smart as the original.

They are of course predators themselves, preying on insects, spiders, snails or earthworms, which they stun by mercilessly shaking them in their jaws before eating them whole.

Find out more at:

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust

Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods