Sands run out for lowland lizards Retreat of heaths hits sand lizard
Monday 05 February 1996
The sand lizard takes its name from its habitat. In midsummer, females dig a shallow burrow in a patch of open, sunny sand and lay about eight eggs which hatch two months later. At this time of year, the lizards are underground and dormant. They will not emerge until March or April. A mild winter does not suit them because it makes them wake too early, leaving them vulnerable to damp.
Once widespread among lowland heaths and coastal dunes, they are down to about 6,000 breeding adults scattered among more than 100 colonies. Most are in the remaining Dorset heathlands, with a few found in Surrey and sand dunes on Merseyside.
Like nearly all endangered British species the main reason for their plight is the decline of their habitat. As well as patches of open sand, they need clumpy vegetation like old heather, up to a metre high.
This gives them the mix of sunshine, shade and cover they require as they scurry around in search of insects and spiders. Being cold blooded, they warm up by basking in sunshine then dash into the shade to avoid overheating.
Most of the lowland heaths have become fields, housing or forestry plantations.
In 1994 a three-year ''crash'' recovery programme was launched, led by the Herpetological Conservation Trust. Sand lizards have been reintroduced to Welsh sand dunes and sites in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset.
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 E.L James's #AskELJames Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
Dutch city of Utrecht to experiment with a universal, unconditional 'basic income'
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
from £35,000 pa: Kinapse: You will take leadership for discrete workstreams an...
£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time position for Nottingh...
£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading boiler ...
£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Simulation Tec...