Sand lizard

Lacerta agilisThe sand – or common – lizard is quite widespread in our region, although its numbers are decreasing gradually. Young lizards of the species are red-brown grey or brownish on top, with three light black-lined thin stripes, with the middle one stretching along the spine, and the lateral ones running along the sides of the back, disappearing in the tail area. On the sides of the body, and usually in a row, there are smallish white ocelli. The coloration changes with age. The light dorsal stripes diffuse, becoming less clear, and all along the spine irregular dark-brown or even black spots develop in one or two parallel rows, and in cases of the latter the rows can be separated by a light middle stripe. The overall coloration of the body also changes dramatically. In males, it becomes bright, olive or plain green, whereas in females, it becomes brown or red-brown – and much more seldom green, as in males. Quite often the dorsal pattern disappears completely or partially, and the animal develops uniform green or red-brown coloration. The belly is usually white or greenish white in females and greenish in males, and as a rule there are fairly large dark spots. The lizards do not reach up to more than 25-28 cm in length. Everywhere the sand lizard prefers dry and sunny spots, inhabiting steppe, thinner forests, gardens, wood beds, groves, slopes of hills and ravines, bush thickets, road shoulders, railway banks etc. It runs so fast that it is really difficult to catch it by hand, moreover so as it does not go any farther away from its shelter than some 10-15 m. They hunt beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, worms, spiders and other small invertebrates. In late May-early June, the female lays 6 to 16 eggs, burying them in a shallow dig or leaving in the recess of a hole. The young occur starting late July. Commonly, the lizard hibernates in its summer hole, plugging the entrance with foliage and soil.

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