Fun Sand Lizard Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
Oct 20, 2022 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
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 it is pretty different from the common lizard, although the two do get confused.

They are native to Europe and the UK but they are rare lizards. In fact, they are the rarest reptiles in the UK.

Sand lizards have specific 'eye spot' patches that make them look slightly different from other lizards. They can be up to 8 in (20 cm) in length and both sexes have brown patterns down their back with two very prominent dorsal stripes. Some males have easy-to-view green flanks which become especially bright during the breeding season.

These sand lizards are carnivores, and their diet is mostly restricted to invertebrates. They tend to eat a variety of small moving creatures, sometimes even including 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?

The sand lizard is a reptile. Reptiles are air-breathing vertebrates that are covered with special kinds of skin scales, body plates, or a combination of both. They have a slow metabolism and are cold-blooded animals.

What class of animal does a sand lizard belong to?

The sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) belongs to the class Reptilia.

How many sand lizards are there in the world?

There is no specific data about the exact number of sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) around the world yet. However, scientists believe that their populations are severely declining.

Found in certain regions of Europe, this lizard is extremely rare and is strictly protected under UK law. The main reason for the decline of this lizard's population is habitat loss and the primary cause of this habitat loss is urban development.

Where does a sand lizard live?

The most common habitats where these lizards are found are dry heathlands and sand dunes. Lacerta lizards are very adaptable.

What is a sand lizard's habitat?

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

Who do sand lizards live with?

Usually, the sand lizard comes out during the mating season or during winter when they have to bask under the sun directly to find some heat. As reptiles with scales, most of them require some exposure to heat during the day.

At this time, these lizards actually thrive outside with their families. Otherwise, these animals live underground most of the time with their families.

How long does a sand lizard live?

In their native habitats, sand lizard lifespans can be up to 20 years if they manage to escape their predators. However, their average lifespan is 12 years.

How do they reproduce?

When it comes to sand lizards breeding, the female sand lizard chooses her mates. The male sand lizard is very sporting and radiant in showing off his green mating molt, in a bid to defend his prime territory.

There are times when these lizards can be aggressive, and fights between males during the mating season are not uncommon. The most common way that these lizards settle disputes is through competitive posturing.

In this species specifically, a female sand lizard usually mates with several males between March and April, but she will only lay eggs once a year. These eggs remain in her underground nest for three to four months before they begin to hatch in August or September.

What is their conservation status?

In the UK, these sand lizards are the rarest lizard species.

Their conservation status is Least Concern, however, due to the rarity of the species, they are strictly protected and it is prohibited to kill these lizards. These sand lizards are vulnerable to multiple threats such as the destruction, degradation fragmentation of their habitats, and the lack of and improper management of their habitats right now.

Other big threats to these lizards are afforestation in and near heathland sites, agricultural development, military activities, and mineral extraction, which have disturbed their habitats and played a major role in the loss of sand lizards from sites where they used to be found.

Sand Lizard Fun Facts

What do sand lizards look like?

The sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) can be easily mistaken for the common lizard and the 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 they have dark patches on their sides. These marks are sometimes mistaken to look like eyes as they are mostly lighter in the middle and become darker around the outside.

These patches may vary in size. They also have a camouflage pattern of black and dark brown which helps them to hide from their predators.

Males have green-yellow flanks, which are usually brighter during the mating season in late April and May. A 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 one individual to another, in general, these reptiles are not typically described as cute. Instead, this lizard species native to Europe is more commonly described as a rare and interesting creature.

How do they communicate?

Sand lizards usually communicate with the help of a special trick that these scaly creatures have developed with respect to time. Scientists are currently studying this technique, called chemical secretion or chemical communication.

It involves a chemical being secreted through the lizard's body as it drags its back legs or the lower half of its body over the surface it is walking across.

By doing so, the lizard is spreading these chemical secretions in that particular area, similar to a dog 'marking its territory' by urinating. There are different types of communication methods used by these lizards too, involving vision, tactile and vocal senses, but chemical communication is the most commonly used.

How big is a sand lizard?

These are stocky lizards, reaching up to 8 in (20 cm) in length.

How fast can a sand lizard run?

Sand lizards are not the fastest runner, although it depends on the situation. If there's a threat of predators, they really can run fast, reaching speeds up to 30 mph (48 kph).

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 they weigh 0.5 oz (15 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is not a specific name given to males and females of these lizards, although they have distinctive features among male and female populations. 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 also usually have a thick appearance, with heavy-set jaws and bigger heads. The markings on the flanks of males are fuller, with a series of black stripes, compared to the brown color of females, who have larger ocelli on their flanks.

What would you call a baby sand lizard?

There isn't a specific name given to baby sand lizards at the moment. If you have ever been lucky enough to see a baby sand lizard burying itself in sand then you will know how cute these reptiles can be!

What do they eat?

Sand lizards are carnivores. The average sand lizard diet comprises almost entirely of invertebrates.

Sand lizards eat a variety of spiders, grasshoppers, and crickets, though spiders are their favorite. In general, reptiles are cold-blooded so they are 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 poisonous or venomous.

Would they make a good pet?

A sand lizard would not be the best pet. Sand lizards are also an extremely rare and protected species so conservation efforts advise against taking these animals away from their wild populations.

Did you know...

There are many more species of sand lizards, including several sub-species found in the westernmost areas of the world.

Females tend to be slightly bigger in length than male sand lizards.

Whilst fighting, sand lizards have a technique that involves grabbing the neck of their opponent lizard with their jaw and rolling over and over each other until one, usually, the smaller lizard, loses the fight.

Sand lizards are known to be very shy animals and they only come out rarely in the sun to sunbathe. It is difficult to spot a sand lizard, so 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 same habitat as the sand lizard.

A range of different insects are most commonly found in the habitat of the sand lizard, but other species of animals which can be found in their habitat include snakes, mice, spiders, and various other animals depending on the particular wildlife in that habitat.

When do they bury themselves in the sand?

Sand lizards have sandy hibernation habits. When they are about to go into hibernation, sand lizards bury themselves in sand, digging big, deep burrows.

Males usually begin hibernation early from late August to September, but females like to start hibernation a month later than males, in September or early October. Sand lizards finish the process of hibernation in April and May.

Do sand lizards bite?

They do bite other creatures to eat them as food and they can bite predators to save themselves from getting killed. However, they are not well studied whilst humans are around so whether or not they would bite humans is unknown.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our wood turtle coloring pages.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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