Common lizard Zootoca vivipara

Living further north than any other reptile species, the common lizard is also remarkable for giving birth to its young, as opposed to laying eggs (as most other lizard species do). They are variable in colour, but usually brownish-grey, often with rows of darker markings down the back and sides. Males have bright yellow or orange undersides.


Common lizards prefer dry, sunny places with protective cover nearby. They are often found on sea cliffs, heaths and moorland. Their diet is mainly made up of insects and spiders. The common lizard tends to hibernate in small groups with other common lizards, usually under small rocks or dead wood.


Length: 10-15cm

Average Lifespan: up to 12 years


Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.


Widespread, found throughout the country, except for most Scottish islands, the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands. The only reptile native to Ireland.

When to see

March – October


  • If threatened by a predator, Common Lizards will shed their still-moving tail in order to distract their attacker and make a quick getaway. This leaves a scar behind, but they can re-grow their tails, although they are usually shorter.

Common name

Common lizard

Species name

Zootoca vivipara

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

March – October

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Red Moss of Balerno or Grey Hill Grassland.

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