Zootoca (Lacerta) vivipara
Where to find them
The common (or viviparous) lizard is most
frequently seen on commons, heaths, moorland, dry stone walls,
embankments and sea cliffs around the British Isles.
It is the only species of reptile native to Ireland. Common lizards are widespread throughout
Europe, even extending into the Arctic
Typical adult size is approximately 15cm (nose to tail). Colouration is
commonly a shade of brown with patterns of spots or
stripes. Colour variants are not uncommon: everything from yellow
through various shades of green to jet black can be encountered.
Newts, when on land, are sometimes mistaken for lizards. They can be
told apart by looking at the skin: lizards have scaly
rather than smooth, velvety skin. Lizards tend to move very quickly when
Mating takes place in spring and females ‘give birth’ to inch-long
lizards in August. Like the adder, the common lizard incubates its eggs
internally without laying shelled eggs (like for instance the sand
Juvenile lizards gradually
turn a copper colour as they develop into adults.
The common lizard likes open sunny places and is usually found in dry,
exposed locations where dense cover exists close by.
Common lizards feed predominantly on spiders and insects.
Common lizards are protected by law in Great Britain. It is illegal to
kill, injure or sell/trade common lizards. In Northern Ireland
they are fully protected against killing, injuring, capturing,
disturbance, possession or trade.