As its name suggests, the common lizard is the most common reptile in the UK and is Ireland’s only native reptile.

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Common lizard habits

Adult lizards emerge from hibernation in early spring, with mating typically taking place during April.  Both sexes bask in patches of sunlight during the spring.

In common with other reptiles, common  lizards are ectothermic - they can’t generate their own body heat, so to warm themselves up, they have to bask in the sun or lie on a warm surface.  They become much more active when warm, but will retreat to the shade if the weather becomes too hot.

Like the adder, common lizards are ‘viviparous’ - they give birth to live young, rather than laying eggs.  Females incubate eggs inside their bodies, which is why they are often seen basking in the heat of summer sunshine - males are not.  In August, they give birth to between 4 and 11 live young, each measuring about 4 to 5cm long.

Common lizards spend the autumn feeding on invertebrates, which they stun by shaking them violently before swallowing them.

They often hibernate in groups among rocks or dead wood between November and March.

If you encounter a lizard in the UK, unless you’re on heathland or sand dunes, it will almost certainly be a common lizard.  In sandy areas, there is a possibility that it could be a sand lizard, but these are much rarer, larger and often bright green in colour.

Photo (below) by David Element.

Photo by David Element

Read More: Threats to the common lizard

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