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Common (Viviparous) Lizard

Scientific Name
Zootoca vivipera
formerly Lacerta vivipera


Emerge from hibernation in March. In spring and autumn spend much time basking in sun. Feed on small invertebrates. Females give birth to live young in July. Young reach sexual maturity in 2-3 years. Return to hibernation in late September/October.

Adult approx. 15cm (6in) long. Juveniles smaller.

Distinguishing features

Fast moving and scaly. Colour varies from greyish brown to dark brown or even greenish, with darker markings along the back, often bordered with white or yellow halo.   Only species of legged lizard in Dumfries and Galloway so only possible confusion is with newts. Newts are slow moving on land, are usually found under logs or stones and do not move away when disturbed.  Newts do not bask in sunshine and have smooth or warty (but never scaly) skin. Common Lizards do not swim in water.

Male can be distinguished from female by brightly coloured underside which is covered in spots. Females have much duller underparts. Dark markings on upperparts of male tend to form spots, whereas dark markings on females tend to form a vertebral stripe.

Useful links

Common Lizard on RAUK
Common Lizard on Wikipedia
Common Lizard on Arkive

Local distribution map

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Distribution map displays records from the National Biodiversity Network (See terms and conditions).

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