Sand Lizard Fun Facts and Information

Green Sand Lizard on Rock Sand lizards can be found in habitats across Europe and Russia. They live in a variety of environments, preferring dry areas such as sand dunes, heathland, fields, and beaches. In cold areas like the United Kingdom, they are restricted only to sandy areas, as they rely on the sand for warmth to incubate their eggs.

Each lizard has a home range, with females’ being considerably smaller than males, but a lot of overlap between lizards’ home ranges is common. Much of their day is spent basking in the sun. Males usually avoid basking together in the same location if their ranges overlap, but males often bask with females. Within their ranges, sand lizards have different temperature zones, such as a warm, exposed area for basking and a cooler, shaded area for hunting. They are carnivores and their diet largely consists of grasshoppers, crickets, and spiders.


Sand Lizard Head Male sand lizards are slightly larger than females and have more intricate markings. During the mating season, they also develop a bright green coloration. In some subspecies, the males are totally green year-round. A correlation between brightness and fighting ability has been observed. The brightest green sand lizards are more likely to initiate fights and to win them, making them more desirable mating candidates.

Sand lizards hibernate underground during the winter. The mating season begins a few weeks after hibernation. During this time, males become aggressive towards each other. Females are more selective of their mates than males are, but may still mate with several males.

Females sand lizards have usually one clutch per year, with as many as six to fifteen eggs per clutch. Smaller clutches produce larger, and generally more successful, offspring. Larger clutches produce smaller offspring. The number of eggs laid is dependent on food availability. When food is abundant, females lay larger clutches.


Adult Sand LizardThere are many predators to sand lizards, notably snakes, birds, foxes, and mustelids, as well as domestic cats and chickens. In order to avoid predators, sand lizards are capable of detaching their tails. Their tails regrow, but not more than 80% of their original length is restored. Fights over females during sand lizards’ short mating season also occur and can result in serious injuries.

Aside from predators, sand lizards are threatened by habitat destruction. In some of their range, efforts are being made to repair their habitats and reintroduce sand lizards to the wild through breeding programs. At the moment, the exact population size of sand lizards in the wild is unknown, although it is decreasing. Hopefully, the programs aiming to restore sand lizard habitat and populations in Europe will reverse this trend.


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