Sand lizard

M Zauneidechse4

These are stocky lizards, growing usually around 15-20cm long, though most of this is tail. They are of a grey-brown colour, the males usually being darker, with variable patterns of black marks along their bodies, though most have two distinct stripes down their backs. Males have distinctive green flanks, especially in the breeding season of April-May when they flare up to a very bright green.


This is a rare lizard in the UK. It is restricted to a few areas of heathland in Southern England and sand dunes in the North West, though it has been re-introduced to areas in the South West and Wales.

Like other British reptiles, this species hibernates through the colder months. Sand lizards emerge in summer where they can be seen basking in sunny spots. During the day they hunt small invertebrates such as spiders and insects but have also been known to eat fruit. Males are aggressive during the April breeding season when they will fight with each other for a mate. Females dig burrows in soft, warm sand where they lay their eggs in June-July.

In The Garden

Like the Smooth Snake, this species is unlikely to be seen in the garden due to the lack of suitable habitat. If you happen to live near suitable habitats, providing the correct environment for the lizards to feed, lay their eggs and hibernate may attract them, though again it is unlikely as it is a very shy species and will not stay around long if it feels threatened. If you choose to seek them out, remember that sand lizards are a protected species with a delicate habitat so be careful not to disturb them.

Did You Know...?

The Sand Lizard is Britain’s only egg-laying lizard.