Viviparous or Common Lizards

Two common lizards

Three species of lizard are native to Britain, the sand lizard (which I suspect is what A and I saw at the Parc du Marquenterre), slow worms, and the viviparous or common lizard. In addition there are a few naturalised populations of wall lizards, like the two we saw in Jersey. Jersey also has an indigenous population of green lizards, normally native to the Mediterranean but through some quirk of fate managing to hang on in Jersey as their range has headed south with changing climate.

Viviparous Lizards are not truly viviparous in giving birth to live young, but, like Adders and many other reptiles, they appear to do so, the eggs hatching as they are deposited.

The Viviparous Lizard is one of the most widely distributed vertebrates in the world, occurring across Europe and Asia; it also lives further north then any other species of reptile in the world.

Fauna Britannica Stefan Buczacki

Uniquely adapted to the cold presumably, which might explain why my recent sightings have been on Carn Fadryn, and halfway up Meall nan Tarmachan in early March. When I lived in Manchester and walked regularly in the Dark Peak, I would see them on sunny days basking on areas of bare peat.

There is a wide variation in the colouring of common lizards, but the majority of the ones we saw, the relatively small ones, had brown bodies shading subtly into green tails.

Small lizard 

They all also had one particularly long toe on each foot.


This pale brown lizard was medium-sized…

A paler, medium-sized common lizard

…much bigger then the diddy ones, but not quite as big as…

Old new-tail 

…this chap. Common lizards can shed their tail to rid themselves of a predator, and the tail will subsequently regrow…

A new tail 

…as you can see this one has.

Probably a tale to tell there eh? Eh?…..Oh – please yourselves!

Not all of the larger lizards had such strong, dark markings…

Common lizard

When they want to be, these lizards are very fast moving (although a couple of days later, B did manage, very briefly, to catch one). But they were also quite patient and let me get quite close and take many photos. Most of which are included in this slideshow…

With thanks to Sheila for her technical assistance – expect more embedded slideshows in future!

Viviparous or Common Lizards

19 thoughts on “Viviparous or Common Lizards

  1. Lizards. Friendly little fellows. But I wouldn’t want a hat full of them.
    My sister leaves conkers on the doorstep to stop spiders coming in.
    Does this actually work or is she just a mad woman with a conker fetish?

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Really? On the doorstep? To stop…spiders?
      Is she likely to read this? Because, well…I’m inclined to think that the latter is nearer the mark.

      1. After extensive searches (two Googles) I can say with confidence that you may well be right: Take a peek here for research approved by the Royal Society of Chemistry

        My sister IS a mad woman with a conker fetish

        1. beatingthebounds says:

          Priceless Alan – like ‘Outnumbered’ with added spiders and conkers. I hadn’t even heard of that particular old wives tale before tonight and now I’ve seen it disproved. I wonder how many of the spiders survived the experiments with all eight legs intact. But seriously – conkers to keep out spiders how ridiculous! Have to go now – the acorns around the window need replacing, there may be a thunderstorm tonight and it wouldn’t do to be without protection from lightning.

  2. Wow, wonderful photos of lizards. I love the second picture; the lighting, the shape of the lizard, and the lizard’s expression (yeah, yeah,I know I’m anthropomorphising the lizard, but I think he’s giving you ‘the look’).

    Glad you succeeded with embedding a Flickr slideshow. I think it is a nice tidy way to link to the other photos on any one topic that I’ve not included in the post.

  3. Great photos, I’ve never seen that many or got that close to lizards in the UK (apart from once seeing a Slow-worm on a path in Cornwall:


    Mad she may be but I’m taking Alan’s sister’s advice seriously with the spiders – anything that keeps the dinner-plate sized ones out my house is worth a try – they’re just wrong!

    I tend to use my own software to create my musical video/photo slideshow extravaganzas that put on my own blogs but they take a while to produce. The Flickr version looks like a good quick answer

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Nice slowworm! We get those in our garden from time to time – less so now than when we lived on the row – a compost heep is a good place to find them. I saw one near Cockley Beck a while back.

  4. Jamie Bassnett says:

    Great photos. Seen a few Common Lizards in the UK. One in my tent in Glencoe, one on Lord’s Seat in the Lake District, one in the Coledale Valley in the Lake District and one a fortnight ago on Black Hill in the Peak District. Lovely creatures, love the way they move! 🙂

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Hi Jamie,
      In the book I quoted from, Stefan Buczacki bemoaned the lack of oppurtunity of seeing these lizards having grown up in Derbyshire, but clearly they can be found not too far away on Black Hill and Bleaklow (which is where I saw them on more than one occasion).
      The only wildlife I can remember encountering in my tent was on the National Trust site in Great Langdale when I was woken by rustling in the night and found a Hedgehog inside a carrier bag eating a block of cheddar having chewed its way through the plastic packaging.

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