Green lizards are among Europe’s largest lizards and are usually bright green – hence the name! Males have bigger heads and bright blue throats which stand out more during the breeding season while females have yellowish-green throats. Jersey is the only part of the British Isles in which green lizards naturally occur and they are found predominantly on the dunes and on cliff and coastal heaths. Within these habitats, there needs to be an invertebrate food source, cover, protection from predation, options for hibernation and a suitable substrate for egg laying. Lizards mate in April and May and the babies hatch out around September. All the lizards hibernate over winter and can sometimes be seen up until to the end of October.
The largest populations of green lizards exist in the west and the south-west of the Island but small numbers are scattered throughout the rest of the Island. Lizards can be found easily at several north coast sites but their distribution appears to have become very fragmented. Besides increased land usage and development there has been a loss of potential or actual sites through bracken Pteridium aquilinum and scrub encroachment. Further declines may have been caused by cat predation: – lizards may be highly susceptible when they occur in low densities and have fragmented distributions. Restoration of the coastland will improve habitat for green lizards and may in future restore connectivity between isolated populations.
You can read more about Jersey’s green lizards at the Jersey Green Lizard Project.
Slow worm Anguis fragilis
Slow worms are a species of legless lizard and are widespread in Jersey. Once very common, numbers are now much reduced and they are now rarely encountered. Slow worms feed predominantly on slugs, snails and other garden invertebrates so they should be very welcome; however, sadly they are often mistaken for snakes and persecuted. As true lizards, slow worms will shed their tails if caught or handled wrongly and, although almost nocturnal, slow worms, like other lizards like to bask in the sunshine on sunny days or keep warm under stones or discarded metal or wood. Recent surveys of the north coast suggest that reasonable numbers can still be found in un-developed areas