If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

03 April, 2014

Sand Lizard: the sun worshipper!

There are some species that really are specialities here in Dorset. In fact, in the National Biodiversity Database there are more species recorded for the Isle of Purbeck than for any other area of similar size in the whole of the United Kingdom (this is what I am told, I have never checked it out!). This is primarily because of the Dorset heathland and the special animals and plants found there; some are very rare indeed and found only in this habitat. So it is with the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis). Along with the smooth snake
they are nationally very rare creatures but are common here; they take some finding however!
The sand lizard was once more widespread in Britain than just the heaths of Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey. They do have pretty specific habitat requirements; the soil must be sandy for them to be able to lay their eggs, they like extensive vegetation for shelter, a good supply of insects to feed on and sunny south facing slopes to warm up by sun-bathing. It has taken a lot of conservation effort to create areas ideally suited to it and the success of this has led to the species spreading further and further afield. I understand some are now being re-introduced to areas from where they have been lost

Being cold blooded they often use metal, especially corrugated iron, to warm themselves. The metal quickly heats in the sun and retains that heat and the lizards and snakes are quick to take advantage of it. However, until they are up to temperature there is little they can do to avoid the glare of the camera!

The male sand lizard has this lovely green colouring and both have distinctive 'eye-spots'. They are quite 'chubby' and so they are quite easily told apart from their duller, slimmer cousins, the common lizard.
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