Sand lizard

The sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) is a lacertid lizard distributed across most of Europe including Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, southern Sweden, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Western Russia and eastwards to Mongolia and northwest China. [2]It does not occur in the Iberian peninsula or European Turkey. Its distribution is often patchy.[3]

Sand lizard
Lacerta agilis male 2.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Lacertidae
Genus: Lacerta
L. agilis
Binomial name
Lacerta agilis


The sand lizard is a sexually dimorphic legged lizard. In northwest Europe, both sexes are characterised by lateral and dorsal strips of ocellated (eye-shaped) markings, dark patches with pale centres. Colouration varies across their European and Russian range. Males have finer markings than females, and their flanks turn bright green during the spring mating season, fading again in the late summer. Male adults may reach a total body length of 19.3 cm, where female adults may reach 18.5 cm.[4]

It has several subspecies, the westernmost of which is L. a. agilis. In this and the other main western subspecies (L. a. argus), the dorsal stripe is thin and interrupted, or not present at all. This applies particularly to the latter subspecies, which also includes a plain red or brown-backed phase without any dorsal markings. In these two subspecies, only the flanks of the males turn green in the mating season, but in the eastern subspecies (predominantly L. a. exigua), males can be wholly green, even outside the breeding season.

Most of these lizards live in Eastern Europe. They are mostly common in Poland, Czech Republic, and countries around that area. They bask on rocks in the day and at night they go into their holes under ground. To protect themselves, they pop off their tails and bite the predators.


In the UK, the sand lizard is largely restricted to lowland heathlands and sand dunes in Southern England, and to the coastal sand dunes of Northwest England and Wales. It also occupies a range of man-made habitats within these areas, including railway lines, roadsides, brownfield sites and field boundaries.

Conservation statusEdit

It is regarded as threatened and is strictly protected under UK law – as it is throughout most of Europe (it is a European Protected Species). This is in contrast to L. a. exigua, whose Russian name translates as the "common lizard". The UK Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust coordinates conservation action for the sand lizard, including a successful captive-breeding and reintroduction programme.

Sand Lizard is facing multiple threats including habitat destruction, habitat degradation, habitat fragmentation, lack of habitat management, inappropriate habitat management right now. Although UK has making the protection of sand lizard as a law, there are still actions needed to be taken, including habitat protection, habitat management, species protection, species management, distribution surveys, population and conservation status monitoring, scientific research, and public awareness.[5]


Generally, males reaches sexual maturity at a smaller size compared with females. Vitellogenesis happens when females are 45 days for the whole population. Both sexes tend to lose body fat during mating period, since their main energy resources come from body fat and from the liver and proximal at the tail. [6] After a few weeks from the hibernation, male adults become extremely aggressive towards each other, trying to mate as many as females as they can.[7]

The female sand lizard lays eggs in loose sand in a sunny location, leaving them to be incubated by the warmth of the ground.[8]

Predators and CompetitorsEdit

Sand Lizards are preyed by a large range of predators such as mustelids, foxes, badgers, birds, and snakes. Besides of wild predators, domestic species, such as pheasants, chickens, and cats.

Inbreeding avoidanceEdit

When a female sand lizard mates with two or more males, sperm competition within the female's reproductive tract may occur. Active selection of sperm by females appears to occur in a manner that enhances female fitness.[9] On the basis of this selective process, the sperm of males that are more distantly related to the female are preferentially used for fertilization, rather than the sperm of close relatives.[9] This preference may enhance the fitness of progeny by reducing inbreeding depression.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ A. Agasyan; et al. (2009). "Lacerta agilis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2009. Retrieved August 11, 2011.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ M., Smith (1969). The British Amphibians and Reptiles. Collins, London, UK.
  3. ^ Arnold, E. Nicholas; Arribas, Oscar; Carranza, Salvador (2007). "Systematics of the Palaearctic and Oriental lizard tribe Lacertini (Squamata: Lacertidae: Lacertinae), with descriptions of eight new genera" (PDF). Zootaxa. Auckland, New Zealand: Magnolia Press. 1430: 1–86. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.1430.1.1. ISBN 978-1-86977-097-6. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis)".
  5. ^ Russell, Liam (December 2012). "THE CONSERVATION AND LANDSCAPE GENETICS OF THE SAND LIZARD Lacerta agilis"
  6. ^ Strasbourg (26 October 2006). "Action Plan for the Conservation of the Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis) in Northwest Europe"
  7. ^ Corbett, K.F. and D.L. Tamarind. 1979. Conservation of the sand lizard, Lacerta agilis, by habitat management. Brit. J. Herp. 5: 799-823.
  8. ^ Olsson, Mats (1988-01-01). "Ecology of a Swedish population of the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) - a preliminary report". Mertensiella. 1: 86–91.
  9. ^ a b Olsson M, Shine R, Madsen T, Gullberg A, Tegelström H (1997). "Sperm choice by females". Trends Ecol. Evol. 12 (11): 445–6. doi:10.1016/s0169-5347(97)85751-5. PMID 21238151.

External linksEdit