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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know? Incredible Sand Lizard Facts

Sand Lizard facts about them basking under the sun keeping warm

Let's talk about Sand Lizards! The Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis) is from the family of Lacertidae and is pretty different from the common lizard, although the two do get confused. They are native to Europe and the UK but are rare lizards. In fact, they are the rarest reptiles in the UK. Sand lizards have specific 'eye spot' patches making them look a bit different from other lizards. They can be up to 20 cm in length. Both sexes have brown patterns down their back with two very prominent dorsal stripes. Some of the males have easy to view green flanks which become specifically bright during the breeding season. The Sand Lizards are carnivores, and their diet is mostly restricted to invertebrates, although it depends on how they have been feeding themselves with any small moving creature may be eaten by them but, sometimes it includes their own young.

Read on for more fascinating facts about Sand Lizards. To learn about other animals, check out our articles on Indian star tortoise facts and pancake tortoise facts.

Sand Lizard Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Sand Lizard?

Sand Lizard is basically a reptile and reptiles are air-breathing vertebrates which are covered with special kind of skin scales, body plates or a combination of both. Due to their slow metabolism, they are also known as cold-blooded animals.

What class of animal does a Sand Lizard belong to?

The class of the Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis) is reptiles.  

How many Sand Lizards are there in the world?

There is no specific data provided about the total number of the Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis) around the world yet. Scientists believe that their populations are severely declining. Native to most of Europe, it is regarded as threatened and is strictly protected under UK law. The main reason for the decline of the lizard is habitat loss and the primary causes of habitat loss are urban development or shading.

Where does a Sand Lizard live?

The most common place where this species of lizards are found is in dry heathland. Lacerta lizards are very adaptable.

What is a Sand Lizard habitat?

While this lizard mostly lives in dry heathland habitats and sand dunes, they can be seen basking under the sun on bare patches of sand. Sand Lizards habitats are now narrowed down to a few places as the destruction of their natural habitat has decreased the variety of their habitats.

Who do Sand Lizards live with?

Usually, the Sand Lizard comes out during the mating season or during the winter when they have to bask under the sun to get them some heat. As reptiles with scales, most of them are required to have heat during the day. During this time, these lizards actually thrive outside with their family or other lizards but only in some numbers. Otherwise, these animals live inside the ground most of the time with their family.

How long does a Sand Lizard live?

In their native habitats, the Sand Lizard lifespans can be up to 20 years if safe from other predators. Otherwise, the average lifespan is 12 years.

How do they reproduce?

In Sand Lizards breeding, the female Sand Lizard chooses her mates. The male Sand Lizard is very sporting and radiant in showing off their green mating molt, which is used by them to defend their prime territory. There are times when these lizards can be aggressive, and fights between other males during mating season are not uncommon, although the best way to settle disputes is through competitive posturing. In this species specifically, the female Sand Lizard usually mates with several males during the period of March and April, but will only lay eggs once a year. These eggs will stay in the underground nest for three to four months before they start to hatch in August or September.

What is their conservation status?

In the UK, these Sand Lizards are the rarest lizard species. They are considered a threatened or endangered species and are strictly protected and prohibited to kill under the lawful acts by the UK government. These Sand Lizards are vulnerable to multiple threats such as destruction, degradation fragmentation of their habitats, and lack of and improper management of habitats right now. The biggest reason is afforestation in and near heathland sites, agricultural development, military activities, and mineral extraction have also disturbed and contributed a major role in the loss of Sand Lizards from sites where they are usually found.

Sand Lizard Fun Facts

What do Sand Lizards look like?

The Sand Lizard can be easily mistaken for the common lizard and house wall lizard. The Sand Lizard is about 8 in (20 cm) long from snout to tail. In color, they are commonly sandy brown and have dark patches on their sides which are sometimes mistaken by some people to look like eyes as these markings are mostly lighter in the middle and become darker around their outsides. These patches may vary in size. There is also camouflage pattern of black/dark brown which helps them to hide from their predators. The males have green-yellow flanks, which are usually bright during the mating season in late April and May. The female Sand Lizard usually has a brown-gray color.

These sand animals are the rarest reptiles in the UK.

How cute are they?

Although opinion may differ from individual to individual, in general, these reptiles are not termed as cute. They are wildlife which can be scary for some of us. That said, this lizard species native to Europe is a rare and interesting creature.

How do they communicate?

Sand Lizards usually communicate with a help of a trick which is solely developed by these scaly creatures with respect to time. There are scientists trying to study these techniques, called chemical secretion or chemical communication. A chemical is secreted through their body and they are seen to drag their back legs or lower half of their body over a surface they are walking across. By doing so, they are spreading their chemical secretions in a particular area, similar to a dog "marking its territory" by urinating. There are more different types of communication methods used by these lizards such as vision, tactile and vocal, but chemical communication is the most used.

How big is a Sand Lizard?

These are stocky lizards, reaching up to 20 cm in length.

How fast can a Sand Lizard run?

Sand Lizards are a bit lazy, though it depends on the situation. If there's a threat of predators, they really can run fast up to 30 mph. Also, if the temperature is too hot outside it gets difficult for them to walk so these Sand Lizards quickly lift each foot off the ground in such a pattern that they don't have to keep their legs on the ground for too long. This trick helps them to keep their feet from burning.

How much does a Sand Lizard weigh?

Sand Lizards are one of the rarest lizards and can weigh 15-20 g in weight.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no such specific name given to the males and females of these populations although they have distinctive features among them. Males have developed radiant green flanks, which can be easily seen on mounds while defending or fighting for their territory. During the breeding season, these differences are more precise. Males usually have a thick appearance, with heavy-set jaws and bigger heads. The markings on the flanks of the males are more full, with a series of black stripes, compared to the brown females, which have regular and larger ocelli on their flanks.

What would you call a baby Sand Lizard?

There's no such specific name given to them so it totally depends upon us what we want to call them. We reckon Lizzie would be cute for a little sandy lizard.

What do they eat?

Firstly Sand Lizards are carnivores. The Sand Lizard diet comprises almost entirely of invertebrates. Sand Lizards eat a variety of spiders, grasshoppers, and crickets, though spiders are their favorite among them. In general, reptiles are cold-blooded so very energy efficient and do not need to eat very much. Also, male Sand lizards have been known to eat their own young, and the young of common lizards.

Are they poisonous?

No Sand Lizards are not at all poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

A Sand Lizard would probably not be the best pet around. They may not be as interactive and communicative as a more conventional pet. That said, some would probably like to keep them as pets. The Sand Lizards are, however, an endangered species and conservation efforts might advise against taking these animals away from their populations and wildlife.

Did you know...

There are many more species of Sand Lizards or several sub-species in the westernmost areas of the world. Female Sand Lizards are generally slightly bigger in size than male Sand Lizards.

Sand Lizards have a technique of grabbing the neck of their opponent lizard with their jaws and rolling over and over each other until one, usually the smaller lizard, loses.

Sand Lizards are also known to be very shy animals and they come out rarely in the sun to sunbathe, but it is still difficult to spot them. If you do, then you are really lucky!

What other animals can you find in their habitat?

There are a lot of animals that we can find in the habitat of the Sand Lizard. Different kinds of insects are the most common thing which can be found in the habitat of the Sand Lizard and the other species of animals which can be found in their habitat are snakes, mice, spiders, and various other animals depending on the particular surrounding and the wildlife in that habitat.

When do they bury themselves in sand?

The Sand Lizards have a sandy hibernation. The Sand Lizard burying itself in sand is known to take place during the time when are about to go into hibernation, and when they do so, Sand Lizards dig big, deep burrows. Males usually begin hibernation early from late August-September but females like to start hibernation a month later than males i.e. in September or early October. Sand Lizards come out of the process of hibernation in April and May. Sometimes they come out only when they have warmed themselves from hibernation.

Do Sand Lizards bite?

Generally, they are not familiar when humans are around so there is very little possibility that they'd be biting humans. They do bite other creatures such as their food or other predators to save themselves from getting killed.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other lizards including monitor lizards, or Caiman lizard.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our sand lizard coloring pages.

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