SPECIES SUMMARY PAGE

Lacerta agilis - Sand lizard:

 MB_SandLiz_spring2010-210Female.jpg (74340 bytes) MB_SandLiz_spring2010-241Male.jpg (65192 bytes)

Summary Information
Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Reptilia / Squamata / Lacertidae / Lacerta / Species
Alternative Names
  • Sand-lizard
  • Lacerta agilis agilis
  • Lézard des souches (French)
  • Zauneidechse (German)
Description Length:
  • Snout-vent: maximum 9cm (usually less). B159
  • Tail length: 1.25-1.75 times body length B159
  • Total length: may reach e.g. 19.3cm (male), 18.5cm (female) B160
  • Birth: 5.6-6.3cm (body 2.5-3.1cm, tail 2.8-3.5cm). By hibernation average 8.0cm and one year later average 12.8cm B160.

Appearance:

  • Lacertid lizards have a relatively long body, well-defined head , long tail and well-developed legs.
  • The top of the head and the abdomen bear large scales and femoral pores are present on the ventral side of the upper leg (thigh).

(B159, B160)

General description:

  • Medium-size and robust, with a short deep, rounded head (larger in male than in female), serrated collar, short legs, overlapping scales on the abdomen and narrow vertebral scales. 
  • Large ventral scales are in six rows across the lizard and in 24 to 30 rows down the body (more in female than in male).
  • 34-42 dorsal scales across the middle of the body

(B159, B160 )

Colouration: Very variable.B159

  • Adult: Light central line, often broken. Dorsal usually central dark band or series of dark marks, often with darker blotches. Light spots. Unmarked area, between dorsal markings and flanks where there may be ocelli, dark spots or mottlings. (B159)
  • Males may have flanks of green, yellow green or greenish. Some males green except for dark central band, sometimes have ocelli over back. (B159, B160)
  • Females generally grey or brown, rarely with green colouration. Dark central band, usually broken. (B159)
  • Ventral: whitish, greenish or yellow. often dark spots, generally more numerous in males. (B159, B160)
  • Juvenile: generally similar to adults. No green colouration. Often prominent ocelli, especially on flanks (B159); generally paler than adults, with less clearly defined pattern and sometimes no spots ventrally (B160)
  • Variations:
  • All black.
  • Females with green flanks; back brown or reddish (not found in England),
  • Continuous white midline streak - in West Balkans
  • All green - in Romana
  • (B159)

Similar species and distinguishing features:

  • In UK: distinguished from Lacerta agilis by more robust appearance,larger head, presence of of vertebral band of narrow scales, more overlap on ventral scales and different patterning. (B159)
Range and Habitat Range:
  • Europe including England, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, southern Sweden,Germany, Austria, north-western Yugoslavia, Hungary Czechoslovakia, Poland, western Russia. Common over central Europe. (B160)
  • In Britain: coastal area of Lancashire, south of England. (B160)

Habitat:

  • Dry habitats such as field edges, road embankments, grasslands with occasional low bushes, rough grazing areas, hedgerows, cropland and gardens. (B159, B160)
  • In north of range, lowland species. (B159)
  • Southern: Partly montane, found up to 2000m altitude in dry upland pastures. (B159) ; to nearly 4,000ft in Alps (B160)
  • England: dry open areas - mainly coastal sand dunes with some plant cover and southern sandy heathland in dense old heather (B159, B160).
Further Information Activity:
  • Mainly ground-dwelling, poor climber.
  • Often found in colonies.
  • Uses tunnels formed by other species, also digs.
  • Basks in sunlight, but spends hottest part of day in shade or underground.

(B160)

Breeding: Oviparous (lays eggs) (B159, B160).

  • Mating May (peak) to June, with fighting between males. Males seize flank of female with jaws before mating; mate repeatedly.
  • Eggs laid June/July B160 B160
  • No of eggs/young: 6-13, less by younger than by mature females (B160).
  • Eggs: Initially 12-15 x 8-9mm, faintly pinkish. May increase in size by several mm before hatching. (B160)
  • Female digs shallow hole, lays eggs and covers them (B160)
  • Incubation 7-12 weeks, depending on temperature. May hatch as early as the beginning of August, and as late as early September. (B160)
  • Hatchlings have sharp well-developed egg-tooth (B160)
  • Males may be sexually mature as early as 21-22 months old (B160)

Skin shedding:

  • At intervals, usually in pieces (B160)

Food:

  • Mainly invertebrates (B159)
  • Omnivorous, mainly insects and spiders.
  • Diet includes moths and butterflies, centipedes, woodlice, worms, slugs, grasshoppers, beetles.
  • Fond of honey.

(B160)

Feeding:

  • Actively hunt (B159)

Hibernation:

  • Starts late September/early October; emerge early March (B160).

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

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General Legislation:

Individual techniques:

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