IWT Lizard Survey
Many people are unaware that Ireland has a lizard in the landscape. It is native to Ireland and is one of Ireland's two reptiles, the other being the Slow-worm Anguis fragilis. The Common Lizard is widespread in distribution, but the Slow-worm is confined to Co. Clare. The slow worm is a legless lizard, found in parts of the Burren, Co. Clare. Unlike the common lizard, the slow worm is almost certainly a recent introduction to Ireland and is, therefore, not considered to be native to Ireland.
How do you know it’s a lizard?
The common Lizard is described as having a grey brown to dark brown dorsal surface. Often it has a darker streak that may run the entire length of the spine. There is a dark border broken by light yellow and white spots seen on either side of the body.
Undersides of the male are yellow to orange spotted with black and females are yellowish grey.
Young are very dark brown or black.
It is unlikely you will misidentify it. Try and take a photograph and email it to us regardless of how bad you think the shot is – lizards[at] biology.ie. It will just confirm the identification.
Okay, the survey is about the lizard, however some of Ireland’s amphibians may also be seen in areas where the lizard is, so here’s some information on them.
Amphibians, as the name implies, spend their time between water and land. They are equally comfortable in each. Their time in water is generally for reproduction (they lay their shell-less eggs in water so they don't dry out); time on land is for feeding and sheltering.
Three different amphibians are found in Ireland: the Common Frog, the Smooth Newt and the Natterjack Toad. The frog and toad are tailless, while the newt has a tail.
There is a slight possibility that you may spot a Newt and think it’s a lizard, so be careful.
Newts are very shy animals. Their usual habitats include well-vegetated ponds, ditches and unused quarry ponds. On land they favour thick grassy vegetation or gorse scrub land near ponds. It is likely you will only see one you disturb accidentally.
They can be plotted onto the map also. Here are some guidelines to identifying two of Ireland’s other amphibians - the frog and the Natterjack Toad.
Most people are aware of the Common Frog. It is our representative amphibian. Fewer are familiar with the Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris). The Natterjack Toad is something of a rarity, unless you live in north Kerry, where they are rightly proud of sharing the landscape with this elusive beast.
The common frog is widespread in Ireland, being found in every county from sea level to Uplands. Its familiarity comes from the frog's ability to successfully populate garden ponds.
The Natterjack Toad is very limited in its distribution in Ireland, being confined to North Kerry and parts of Wexford. Its presence in Wexford is the result of an introduction program headed up by the National Parks & Wildlife Service.
There are plans to introduce further populations of the Natterjack Toad to other areas of the country.
Read more on Amphibian in Ireland: NPWS Amphibians
Read more on Reptiles in Ireland: NPWS Reptiles
Text & Images © Biology.ie, 2007 & The Irish Wildlife Trust, 2008.