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Do you think lizards are only found in distant lands? Six species of lizards are native to Germany. But the nimble animals are threatened. Their habitat is disappearing and there are no opportunities to overwinter.

In a nutshell

  • Lizards live in warm regions
  • they feed on insects, worms, snails
  • Natural garden design contributes to the protection of animals
  • Animals hibernate in piles of wood, crevices in rocks, heaps of compost and rocks

useful information

The local lizards are reptiles. Characteristics of the lizard are the elongated body and a long tail. Most lizard species have four short limbs. The eyes, which can be closed by eyelids, are striking.
The lizards' diet consists of worms, spiders, beetles, grasshoppers and snails. They prefer warm sunny areas. Lizards overwinter in compost heaps, woodpiles, knotholes, mouse holes, and crevices in rocks.
Reasons for the disappearance of native lizard species include:

  • decline in small bodies of water
  • Use of weed and insecticides
  • water pollution
  • intensification of agriculture
  • Intensification of fish farming and fishing
  • road traffic
  • Expansion of settlement and traffic areas

Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis)

The slow worm is not a snake but a legless lizard. The slow worm's extremities were lost in the process of adapting to life in underground passages. She has a snake-like body. The head and tail are not separated from the body. Every hobby gardener should do something to protect the animals. After all, slugs are one of the favorite foods of slow-worms.

  • Size: up to 45 centimeters
  • Ground color: gray to brown
  • Belly coloration: bluish to black-grey
  • Back Coloration: Center back with dark line, copper tinge
  • Characteristics: Juveniles are silver-grey in color and have dark dorsal stripes
  • Mating season: March to May
  • Reproduction: viviparous, young are born after three months
  • Occurrence: Forests, roadsides with slightly moist soil
  • Distribution: almost everywhere in Europe

By the way, the slow worm is not blind. The name comes from "blende", the term for minerals with a shiny, shimmering surface. Most slowworms have that copper sheen.

Croatian mountain lizard (Iberolacerta horvathi)

A small species of lizard is the Croatian mountain lizard. It reaches a maximum length of 18 centimeters, with the tail making up two-thirds. The Croatian mountain lizard is quickly confused with the wall lizard.

Source: Benny Trapp, Benny Trapp Croatian Mountain Lizard Iberolacerta horvathi, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 3.0
  • Size: 16 to 18 centimeters
  • Basic color: green-brown
  • Belly coloration: yellow to yellow-green
  • Back colouration: green-brown or grey, mottled with dark
  • Characteristics: Sides with sharply defined bands, dark brown in males, reddish brown in females
  • Mating season: May to June
  • Reproduction: egg laying, young hatch after about six to eight weeks
  • Occurrence: stony-rocky areas with many crevasses, in screes and along streams
  • Distribution: Alps, bordering Austria

Notice: The Croatian mountain lizard is very rare in Germany. It was only detected in the German Alps in the 1980s. Their main distribution areas are in Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Austria.

wall lizard (Podarcis muralis)

The wall lizard is a delicate and particularly agile species of lizard. It is believed to be the only Central European lizard capable of climbing up and down vertical walls.

  • Size: 16 to 19 centimeters
  • Ground color: grey-brown, slightly reddish or greenish
  • Belly coloration: whitish, yellowish or orange
  • Back coloring: grey-brown with dark spots or in males with net-like markings
  • Characteristic: flanks with wide, darkly mottled margins
  • Mating season: March to June
  • Reproduction: egg laying, young hatch after about seven to ten weeks
  • Occurrence: south-facing dry slopes with little vegetation, vineyards
  • Distribution: everywhere in Europe, especially in the northern Mediterranean area

Notice: Today, seamless concrete walls replace the old stone walls. This means that an important habitat for the wall lizard is disappearing.

green lizards

Eastern Green Lizard (Lacerta viridis) and Western Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata)

The most impressive and at up to 40 centimeters largest Central European lizard is the green lizard. It can only be observed in Germany, Croatia and Italy. It wasn't until 1991 that researchers realized that the eastern green lizard and the western green lizard were different species. The two species can be distinguished mainly on the basis of their distribution.
In addition to insects, worms and snails, green lizards also feed on young mice.
Incidentally, the beautiful green coloring of the green lizard only develops over the course of the first three years of life. The young are brown. Green lizards can live ten to twelve years.

Eastern green lizard
  • Size: 30 to 40 centimeters
  • Basic color: light or dark green
  • Belly coloration: light green
  • Back coloring: green-brown
  • Characteristic: males with striking cornflower-blue throat coloring during mating
  • Mating season: April to May
  • Reproduction: oviposition, young hatch after about two months
  • Occurrence: Edge of vineyards and orchards, dry stone walls
  • spread of Western green lizard: Northern side of the Alps and warm wine-growing regions
  • spread of Eastern green lizard: Rhineland-Palatinate, Rhine Valley, wine-growing regions on the Moselle and Nahe

Notice: Green lizards live in a strict hierarchy. The male animals fight for their rank in so-called “comment fights”. They bite the back of their heads, which can lead to serious injuries. The defeated animal flees.

Wood Lizard (Lacerta vivipara)

The wood lizard is also known as the mountain or bog lizard. It is the smallest native lizard species. Their so-called collar, a series of large scales on the underside of their neck, is characteristic.

Source: Leo-setä, I'm gonna grow up to be an alligator!, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0
  • Size: 13 to 16 centimeters
  • Basic color: dark brown
  • Belly Coloration: Females with gray belly, males with yellow or orange belly
  • Back coloring: dark central stripe and wide side stripe, with yellow and dark spots in between
  • Characteristics: small scales on back, large scales on ventral side
  • Mating season: May to June
  • Reproduction: viviparous, young are born 2 to 3 months after mating, they are bronze in color and have a black tail
  • Occurrence: Forest edges with medium-high vegetation, swampy terrain
  • Distribution: mainly in the German low mountain ranges

sand lizard (Lacerta agilis)

The sand lizard is native to all of Germany. Compared to other species, the sand lizard appears clumsier and stockier. She is diurnal.

  • Size: 20 to 27 centimeters
  • Base color: brown
  • Belly Coloration: Females with cream colored belly, males with greenish belly and emerald colored sides at mating time
  • Back colouration: brown with a distinctive pattern of dark spots, light spots and light stripes
  • Characteristics: flat snout, eye color red to golden yellow
  • Mating season: late April to June
  • Reproduction: Oviposition four weeks after mating, eggs are buried in warm, sunny spots, young hatch after 5 to 9 weeks
  • Occurrence: Walls, piles of stones, dry grassland, forest paths
  • Distribution: everywhere in Germany

Notice: The Sand Lizard was voted Reptile of the Year 2022.

frequently asked Questions

How can you contribute to lizard protection?

Every hobby gardener can contribute to the protection of valuable animals, even if the garden plot is small. Avoid using pesticides and insecticides. A toxin-free habitat is crucial for the reptiles. Create a habitat and a place to hibernate for lizards in your garden with little effort! There is a place for a woodpile, a dry stone wall, piles of stones and sunny places with little vegetation everywhere.

Can native lizards shed their tails?

Yes, native lizard species are able to shed their tails when threatened by large birds or cats. The dropped part will still move a little, distracting the enemy while the lizard can get to safety. The tail usually grows back, but never regains its original length.

What enemies do lizards have?

Lizards are part of the natural food of birds of prey, martens, foxes, hedgehogs and snakes. In inhabited areas, the domestic cat poses a great threat to the lizards. However, the biggest enemy of the small reptiles is humans. Through his work, the habitats of the native lizards are disappearing.

Why are lizards often found in sunny places?

Lizards are cold-blooded. They cannot regulate their own body temperature. Therefore, they need a sunny spot to warm up. Piles of stones, wall ledges or pavement slabs that store the heat of the sun are ideal resting places for the nimble animals. Pregnant females of the viviparous species in particular spend a lot of time in the sun. In this way, the offspring can develop optimally.

Do lizards need to incubate their eggs?

Some lizard species give birth to live young. Other species lay eggs in a sunny spot. Lizards don't incubate their eggs like chickens or birds. The heat of the sun is necessary for the development of the clutch. Lizard eggs have a soft shell. When the juveniles have finished developing, they break through the soft shell and hatch out.

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