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Hull Biodiversity Action Plan

Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara

HBP contact:

Secretary : Alyson Pirie



Last updated 2008
Common Lizard Common Lizards can be a number of different colours, ranging from brown or yellow-brown to almost green, with a pattern of darker spots, flecks or stripes. Males have an orange belly flecked with black spots, while females usually have a plain yellowish belly. Adults generally grow to around 14 cm long and have a long slender tail. Common Lizards can be mistaken for newts but are more alert and move quickly if disturbed.

Reptiles are cold-blooded and maintaining the right body temperature is vital to their survival, therefore Common Lizards usually live in open, sunny habitats such as rough grassland, woodland edges or railway embankments. They are often found basking on the stony ballast around railway lines and on fallen tree trunks. When they are cold, Common Lizards can be very sluggish and make an easy meal for Cats, Foxes (Vulpes vulpes), Badgers (Meles meles) and birds of prey. Common Lizards hibernate from November to March in burrows or under logs, protected from the cold and predators. They feed largely on small insects such as spiders and beetles and will also eat small snails. Common Lizards mate in April and May and four to six live young are born in late July or August.


The Common Lizard is native to Britain and widespread throughout the mainland, however their numbers have fallen in recent years. The Common Lizard is a useful indicator species of the health of habitats.

Despite their name, Common Lizards are rare within Hull. A large colony was recently found on the area known as the Railway Triangle, a small patch of scrub and allotments sandwiched between railway lines close to Hull Royal Infirmary car park. This discovery is quite unusual as it is in the middle of the City.


  • Nationally, Common Lizards are affected by loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitats due to a wide range of land-use changes. Within Hull, loss of habitat due to development is a major factor. A large population exists on the site of the new Community Super Stadium, which may be affected by this development.

  • Scrub and woodland invasion on grassland sites may make them unsuitable for lizards.

  • In areas where rabbits are a problem, land managers often gas burrows. If this is done in winter it may kill the Common Lizards which use them for hibernation.

  • In urban areas predation by Cats may affect Common Lizard populations, although Common Lizards are able to shed their tail when attacked.


Legal Status

Common Lizards have some protection under the Appendix III of the Bern Convention. They are also protected from being killed, injured or sold, under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).

Management, Research and Guidance

Common Lizard The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has produced 'A Framework for the Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles in the UK: 1994-1999'. English Nature produces a leaflet on reptiles 'Facts about Reptiles' which includes the Common Lizard.

There has been some positive management for Common Lizards within Hull. A very large colony has been removed from the site of the new Community Super Stadium to protect them during development. The Lizards have been placed in a secure area and will be returned to their original home when the development is completed. The development plans have also been altered to protect the habitat used by the lizards.


  1. To determine the existing status and distribution of the Common Lizard in Hull.

  2. To protect habitats used by the Common Lizard.

  3. To require mitigation for the loss of Common Lizard habitat.

  4. To provide advice on species and habitat management.

  5. To increase public awareness of Common Lizards in Hull.


Action Target Partner Aim
Policy and Legislation
Require mitigation if Common Lizard habitat is to be lost to development. Short Term: Require an area of the Super Stadium site to remain undeveloped and used as a nature reserve. KuHCC (Planning) 2, 3
Habitat Management and Protection
Protect habitats used by the Common Lizard. Short Term: Create new replacement habitat area as part of the Super Stadium Nature Reserve. KuHCC (Planning), Super Stadium Consortium 2, 3
Advise developers on management of sites to protect Lizards. Short Term: Provide advice to the Super Stadium Consortium on management of Lizard population. KuHCC (Planning), EN 4
Advise on suitable habitat creation. Short Term: Provide advice to the Super Stadium Consortium on habitat creation. KuHCC (Planning), EN, YWT 4
Future Research and Monitoring
Determine the distribution of Common Lizards in Hull. Medium Term: Determine the distribution of Common Lizards in Hull. 1
Monitor Common Lizard populations on known sites. Ongoing: Monitor the Lizard population on the Super Stadium site. KuHCC, EN 1
Communications and Publicity
Provide information panels for the created Nature Reserve at the Super Stadium site. Medium Term: Provide information panels at the Super Stadium Nature Reserve for use by visitors and school groups. Super Stadium Consortium 5


  • Encourage Common Lizards by providing features that they can bask on or hide under such as fallen tree trunks.

  • Contact the Hull Biodiversity Partnership if you see a Common Lizard in Hull.


Habitat management will be very important to the conservation of Common Lizards, therefore this plan should be considered along with those for Grassland, Industrial Land, Trees, Scrub and Hedgerows and Gardens and Allotments.


English Nature (1999) Facts about Reptiles. English Nature, Peterborough.

JNCC (1995) A Framework for the Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles in the UK: 1994 - 1999. JNCC, Peterborough.