Saturday, 5 September 2015

Day 297 - Charmingly Lovely Common Lizards

Common or Viviparous Lizard
(Zootoca vivipara - formerly Lacerta vivipara)
Hey everyone today's Day 297 and I am going back to Norfolk today, where I saw a load of these down at Hickling Broad. There are always a few of these about down there, always in exactly the same place, every single year. They like to sunbaths on the edges of the wooden jetty's where the boat tours start.  I do see them in other places but I see them most often here. The most beautiful ones, were the ones that actually were the most docile and I was able to get some pretty good shots of them. The Common Lizards that were smaller weren't as nicely coloured and were the ones that were most 'scampery'. (That's a great word!)

So, here are the facts:
They were docile enough that I could get quite close

  • They are one of three types of lizard that live in the UK, the Common Lizard, the Sand Lizard and the Slowworm, which is actually a leg-less lizard
  • They are on average about 10-15 centimetres long, from their nose to their tail.
  • They have lifespan of up to 12 years which I found pretty surprising for such a small creature.
  • They are a protected species (under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) and are a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
    Ok, very close!
  • Their habitat is woodland edges, heathland, grassland and sand dunes. Heatlands and Grasslands are threatened which is probably why they are protected.
  • It turns out that they might not be THAT common after all, just like the Common Gull.
  • Their diet consists of small insects and spiders. 
    They have beautiful markings
  • They are also known as Viviparous Lizards. This means: the Females keep fertilised eggs inside their bodies until they are almost ready to hatch. 
  • The eggs are kept nice and warm until the time is right to lay them. When they have been laid, the young hatch in seconds. I also read, though, that they 'give birth' to inch long lizards in August. So if anyone can tell me which is right, I'd be grateful.
  • They are cold-blooded so you will often find them lying on stone or logs in the sunshine, as they need the heat to warm their bodies.
  • Common Lizards have a trick up their sleeves to avoid being captured by predators: if they are caught by the tail, they can snap it off and escape.
    There were younger ones around too
    but they were much more 'scampery'
  • Another amazing fact is that, if they live long enough, they can grow a new one back, although it will be shorter and thicker than the old one.
Here are a few links to some more information on these amazing creatures:




Hope you enjoyed,

Z.

4 comments:

  1. These are stunning shots Zach, I love lizards and this is a gorgeous one! - Tasha

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  2. It was the calmest one I've ever come across - great subject to photo :-)

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  3. They give birth to live young, which is apparently an adaptation to a cooler climate, as the eggs would not be able to survive the cold. However, some populations down south can and do lay eggs, as it is warmer. Hope this answers your question!
    Great post as always, Zach!

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    1. Thanks for that, see the logic in that.

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