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Species Notebook:

  • Common Lizard

    • Common Lizard: feeling tyred

      Post date: Thursday, 17 April, 2014 - 00:00

      I was leading a walk when we encountered a common lizard (Lacerta vivipara) on a discarded car tyre. Despite being very vulnerable and with over a dozen people staring at it it did not budge an inch. After a short while one of the party said "Is it tired?". I explained that reptiles are cold blooded and as it was not a particularly warm day this lizard would be short of heat and so would be lethargic. The rubber tyre was absorbing some heat from the sun and the lizard was then absorbing heat from the tyre ... then the penny dropped and I got the joke! Despite a ripple of laughter the 'tyred' lizard stayed put while many of us photographed it!

      The Dorset heath is home to all six species of indigenous reptiles and lizards tend to be a little easier to find as they are happy to sun bathe in more conspicuous places than snakes. The best time to find them, as it is with all reptiles, is in the morning in spring when you can find them basking in the sunshine until they can get moving and find their breakfast. Once they are warm they are much more elusive creatures. They can feel the ground vibrate as you approach and make off into cover and safety. Unless you catch them cold like I did this one they are really difficult to find and get a decent view of. 

      The common Lizard is by far our most widespread reptile, as its name would imply. It is found across much of the country, not just on heathland but anywhere the habitat is relatively undisturbed. Despite being common, however, it is rarely seen unless you go looking for it. It is our smallest native species of lizard and it eats small insects and spiders, it is not large enough to tackle anything bigger.

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