The Common Lizard in Warwickshire

The common lizard basking on a rock.
Image by Thomas Brown. Originally uploaded to Wikipaedia Commons

The United Kingdom has only five resident species of reptile: the adder; grass snake; smooth snake; common lizard; and sand lizard. Whilst snakes might be expected to live in Warwickshire, many may be surprised to learn that lizards also do.

Sand lizards are sand dune specialists and so are absent from the county but common lizards are a rare resident.

Recorded in Victorian times

Common lizards were recorded in Victorian times as not being abundant but colonies were identified at the foot of Edge Hill, Yarningdale Common in Claverdon, scattered around Nuneaton and even Priory Park in the centre of Warwick. In fact recorded sightings at Priory Park continued up until the 1990s.

Today good places to find common lizards are Baddesley Common and Kenilworth Common. The lizard can sometimes be confused with a newt but its scaly skin and lidless eyes are key identification features. They are highly variable in colour ranging from brown to yellow-brown and even green. Males usually have darker backs with paler spotted bellies, whilst females are paler all over and have a continuous stripe running down their back.

Good basking sites

Common lizards prefer habitats that have good basking sites and can include grassland, hedgerows, woodland edges and railway/road embankments. The lizard’s Latin name is Lacerta zootoca vivipara. It gains its vivipara specie name from the fact that, unusually for a reptile, the common lizard bears live young. Instead of laying the soft shelled eggs they are retained in the body; the eggs develop inside a membranous sac, which then bursts to set the young lizards free.

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