Common Or Viviparous Lizard (Lacerta vivipara)

The common lizard is the UK’s most widely spread lizard and possibly the most commonly seen reptile of all in Britain. Like all lizards it needs the warmth of the sun in order to get going and so a walk early in the morning on a sunny day gives you a great chance to see them.

However lizards are wary and quick-moving so you need to tread carefully if you want to get a better view than simply a brown tail disappearing into the undergrowth! But take your time and get a close look and you will find that the common lizard is really a tremendously pretty creature.


The viviparous lizard (Lacerta vivipara) is not a large lizard by any stretch of the imagination and including the tail may only grow to around 12-15cm though many species seen are a lot smaller. As the name suggests these lizards typically give birth to live young rather than laying eggs so one may see portly female in the summer and soon afterwards tiny baby lizards.

The common lizard is a basic brown colour with a reasonably blunt head though some specimens may be seen with a variety of darker mottling and speckling on them. If you see a lizard in the wild in Britain it is *almost* certain to be the common lizard.


Common lizards were once widespread and I remember seeing them as a child simply running around people’s gardens in the height of summer. As with all other creatures though habitat loss and the building of roads has reduced the places in which you may see these creatures.

Common lizards may be found in grassland and meadows, basking on walls in summer, on sand dunes but the most likely place to see them in my experience is on heathland. Find your local heath with it’s unique habitat and walk slowly and quietly on a summers day for the best possible chance of seeing this amazing creature.


The common lizard like most other lizards is carnivorous and will eat virtually anything it can get in it’s mouth. Due to the small size of this lizard this typically means invertebrates of which grasshoppers are possibly the most common given the habitat and time of year that common lizards are at their most active.

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