Lengthy lizard survey

MOST people will, at some stage, have seen the common lizard which is regarded as an important animal in Ireland, being our only native reptile species.

 It gives birth to live young, a rarity in the reptile world in which most species lay eggs to reproduce. The Irish Wildlife Trust has launched a pilot Irish lizard survey to learn more about the creature.

The lizard is found in areas such as bogs, coastal sites, uplands, sand dunes, hedgerows and gardens — any place it can find that’s suitable for basking. It can grow to anything from 10cm to 18cm and hunts insects, spiders. It has a long body, short legs and a long, tapering tail, which is about 60% of its total length.

Lizards live as breeding pairs and can be observed basking in summertime, but only the pregnant female can be seen basking later in the summer, or this time of year. It hibernates in winter and the best time to see it is between March and October.

There hasn’t been a great deal of research into the distribution of lizard, over the years, but it is widespread and is not seen as an endangered species. However, a decline in population has been reported in in other countries due to natural and man-made causes, such as habitat destruction.

Some surveys were conducted here in the 1980s but, according to experts, more scientific research is needed to determine the state of the lizard and to see if conservation work is required to maintain a healthy population. The animal is protected by law against harmful disturbance.

The new survey aims to shed light on the distribution of this lizard, which has a brownish, green upper body, to increase our understanding of wildlife. It is also hoped to survey our second reptile species, the non-native slow worm, a legless lizard that was introduced into the Burren, Co Clare, in the 1970s, and its current status is unknown. Species’ surveys are one of the trust’s core activities, along with education and campaigning.

Trust chairman Daniel Buckley says: “Wildlife monitoring through surveys such as this is essential to ensure our precious wildlife is thriving in the modern Irish landscape, rather than being forced out of existence.”

This year’s survey aims to test lizard- surveying techniques at a small number of locations before extending the project across the country in a volunteer–based citizen science capacity in the near future. To see how this year’s survey progresses keep an eye on the IWT website www.iwt.ie and Facebook page.

For more information, or to send in your lizard sighting, contact the trust on iwtresearch@gmail.com

Sightings can also be logged at biology.ie


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