“If you have ever been lucky enough to spot one of these active lizards in mainland England, their ancestors were originally introduced to the country,” says Sivi Sivanesan, Public Engagement Officer for Froglife. “Despite being introduced, individuals often do considerably well and can compete with our native species of lizards as they are much faster at hunting. Over 20 colonies have been recorded in Britain with populations in areas of London, Bournemouth, Devon and Surrey."
Like their name suggests, these chaps love basking in the sun often on walls, but they also enjoy exposed rocks so they can quickly heat up their body temperature and go in search of food. Wall lizards can be distinguished from native British species by their pointed snouts and very fine scales.
The Wall lizards love of sun bathing means that in urban European areas they are quite easy to spot. However they are also fast runners and scuttle quickly back into the closest crevice to escape any potential passing danger. Glasgow local Eilidh Spence recalls a lucky encounter on holiday in Italy: “I was sitting outside on a patio in the sun and a little lizard kept sticking its head out of a vent in the side of the house. When it decided I didn’t seem too much of a threat, it came out and basked in the sun about 2 meters from my chair. It was wonderful to sit so close to it as we don’t even get Common lizards in Glasgow!”
Dragon fact file: Wall lizard
|A male Wall lizard|
- Whilst hunting for food, they can athletically jump into the air to catch prey
- Wall lizards are also known to eat berries and fruit
- Several clutches of eggs can be laid by a female over the period of a year
- Unlike native species of lizard, Wall lizards hibernate for a much shorter period of time, even emerging on bright January days to sunbath. They are therefore able to hunt and breed earlier in the year, often giving them an advantage over other species.
- Wall lizards can grow to around 20cm, with two thirds of their length often being accounted for by the length of their tails.
- Two different colourations of this lizard exist in Britain-brown backed- originally from the north of France and those with green backs which are believed to be originally from Italy.
- Unlike the Common lizard the snout and eyes are set high on their heads, making them look like mini Komodo dragons!
- Both males and females have a red or orange underside
- To learn more about these animals and other Dragons, have a look at our website here
Photo: Silviu Petrovan