Identifying our reptiles

Identifying our reptiles


Posted 14th May 2018


Do you know the differences between the three lizards we have in the UK? We find out about them

Common Lizard


Image courtesy of Neil Aldridge

The common lizard is the UK's most widespread reptile. It's found in many habitats including heathland, moorland, woodland and grassland where it can be seen basking in sunny spots.

Also known as the viviparous lizard, the species is unusual among reptiles for as it gives birth to its live young, rather than laying eggs.

Variable in colour, they are brownish-grey, and often have rows of darker markings down the back and sides, with males having bright yellow or orange undersides.

Sand Lizards

One of the UK's rarest reptiles, the Sand Lizards favour sandy heathland habitats and sand dunes. Spotted basking on bare patches of sand, they will also lay their eggs in the sand. They're confined to only a few sites as destruction of their habitat has reduced their range.

Females are a sandy-brown colour with rows of dark blotches along the back, while males have green flanks which are at their brightest during breeding season, making them east to spot.

Only found in a few isolated areas with sandy heaths, such as Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey, they also live on sand dunes in Lancashire. The reptile has also been reintroduced into other areas, such as the South East and Wales.

Slow-worm


Image courtesy of Bruce Shortland

While their name and appearance may make you think they would be a worm or snake, slow-worms are actually lizards. The giveaway is their ability to shed their tails and blink with their eyelids. They can be found anywhere where there are invertebrates for them to eat, and a sunny patch for them to sunbathe. Typically found in mature gardens and allotments, they will hunt around the compost heaps. However, if you have a cat, you are unlikely to find them in your garden, as cats hunt them. Slow-worms will hibernate, typically between October and March.

Smaller than snakes, they have smooth, golden-grey skin. Males will be paler and sometimes have blue spots, while females are larger with dark sides and a dark stripe down the back.

Widespread across the country, except for most Scottish islands and are absent from Northern Ireland.

Lead image courtesy of Jack Horton / text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts





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