27 September 2012

Dragon of the Month: Western Green Lizard

Every month in 2012, Froglife is celebrating a different reptile that can be spotted in and around the UK.  This month, Sam Taylor has been finding out about another of the more exotic species, the Western green lizard.

"Some lizards are more dragon-esque than others, with the Western green lizard definitely just missing a pair of wings to compete with our favourite mystical beasts! 

These bright green and black lizards are native to the Channel Islands and found in Jersey, with introduced colonies breeding successfully in Bournemouth and Guernsey.  I have never seen one of these beautiful creatures in the wild, and they can be hard to spot even if they are on your doorstep being shy and, like all lizards, very fast moving. 

These beautiful, large lizards lay eggs which are buried and hatch in August to September, with the tiny newly hatched lizards a well camouflaged brown.  Being larger, these lizards can also take bigger prey, adding nestling birds, eggs and fruit to the general UK lizard menu of invertebrates.   Although currently a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of species,* the Western green lizard is thought to be declining due to habitat loss and increasing intensification of farming."

Dragon Fact File: Western Green Lizard
Lacerta bilineata


·     These are large lizards with long tails, growing up to 40cm long.
·     They prefer dense, bushy vegetation with good exposure to sun.
·     On the Channel Islands their habitat is in dunes and coastal heath and grasslands.
·     In the south of England, they are found in scrubby grass and heath along a cliff.
·    They are also found throughout Europe in hedgerows, open woodland and embankments.
Identification

·    Males are bright green and stippled all over with black
·    Males’ heads are often larger and darker, with a blue-turquoise colour on the throat
·    Females are a paler shade of green and more slight in build. They sometimes possess  2 white or cream dorso lateral lines along each side of their body, which is where their scientific name ‘bilineata’ comes from
·    In addition to being brown, Juveniles also have the pale dorso lateral lines and may also have a greenish throat

*Valentin Pérez-Mellado, Marc Cheylan, Philippe Geniez, Hans Konrad Nettmann, Benedikt Schmidt, Richard Podloucky, Roberto Sindaco, Antonio Romano 2009. Lacerta bilineata. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. www.iucnredlist.org

 Photo:Silviu Petrovan

1 comment:

Chris Roughley said...

Green lizard Bournemouth