Friday, 3 August 2012

Common Lizard Lacerta (Zootoca) vivipara in Upper Teesdale

It has to be said that sunshine has been hard to come by of late and half an hour after capturing this image I was forced to don my waterproofs yet again when a really heavy rain shower managed to sneak up on me while I was filming. One minute I was wearing a T shirt and the next I am soaked to the skin in the time it takes to stash the camera kit in a drybag and open the rucksac to get my waterproofs out - some summer this has turned out to be. There is lots of wildlife about though.

I spotted this Common Lizard Lacerta (Zootoca) vivipara basking on a Bilberry covered fence post in Upper Teesdale yesterday. One of the survival strategies for this species is to shed their tail when attacked by a predator. This one looks as if it has survived such an encounter and appears to be growing a new one. Frustratingly I only had landscape kit with me and was disappointed not to be able to get up close with a macro lens.

05D-3427 Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara Basking Teesdale County Durham UK
Copyright David Forster

I think? it's a female and if so will soon be ready to produce young. Interestingly in warmer climates they do lay eggs, but in the cooler northern climate rather than produce eggs these lizards actually incubate the eggs internally and then give birth to live young.

Lizard Info
· The Common Lizard is the only native species of reptile in Ireland

· Lizards are cold-blooded and hibernate, or perhaps more accurately "Brumate" during the colder months.

· They feed on invertebrates such as woodlice, spiders, insects, worms and slugs.

· Like all of our other reptiles they are under threat from habitat loss and are a protected species under the wildlife and countryside act of 1981


  1. I didn't realise lizards were such interesting creatures. It's not often you see them in this country – but go somewhere like Madeira and they're swarming over everything. St Patrick must have had a soft spot for them if he didn't banish them along with all the other reptiles.
    All the best, Alen McF

    1. I noticed the same in the Pyrenees a couple of weeks ago. I saw lots of common lizards beside the tracks every day. They were even running around in the toilets of the campsite we stayed on. I suspect in the UK few people will even be aware we have lizards at all. I forgot about the St Patrick banishing snakes story, thanks for the reminder.

  2. My kids rescued one recently from a farm cat. It had shed its tail which looked very bloody, but wasn't bleeding. It was quite docile for a while after they took it from the cat - perhaps it was in shock.
    We're lucky, in as much as there's a basking spot where we occasionally see them close to home.
    There's several photos (not up to your standard!) here from one particularly good day when we saw quite a few:

    1. I have just looked at your post and you appear to have a good sized local population (and a good image collection as well). It's interesting to hear of a cat predating a lizard, although perhaps hardly surprising considering the amount of birds and small mammals they take. Well done to the kids for rescuing the lizard, there cannot be many people who have seen this type of survival strategy first hand.