Common lizard

common lizard

© Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Common lizard

©Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography

Common lizard

Scientific name: Zootoca vivipara
Look out for a common lizard basking in the warm sun as you wander around heathlands, moorlands and grasslands. You might even be lucky enough to spot one in your garden, too!

Species information


Length: 10-15cm
Average lifespan: 5-6 years

Conservation status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

March to October


Living up to its name, the common lizard is the UK's most common and widespread reptile; it is the only reptile native to Ireland. It is found across many habitats, including heathland, moorland, woodland and grassland, where it can be seen basking in sunny spots.

Also known as the 'viviparous lizard', the common lizard is unusual among reptiles as it incubates its eggs inside its body and 'gives birth' to live young rather than laying eggs. Adults emerge from hibernation in spring, mating in April and May, and producing three to eleven young in July.

How to identify

The common lizard is variable in colour, but is usually brownish-grey, often with rows of darker spots or stripes down the back and sides. Males have bright yellow or orange undersides with spots, while females have paler, plain bellies.


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

Did you know?

If threatened by a predator, the common lizard will shed its still-moving tail in order to distract its attacker and make a quick getaway. This leaves a scar behind, but it can regrow its tail, although it is usually shorter than the original.