Sand Lizard Care Sheet


Introduction

The Sand Lizard, known by its Latin name Lacerta agilis, meaning ‘dextrous lizard’, lives across vast swathes of Europe including the UK, France, Spain, Germany and southern Sweden. They  typically grow to around 20 cm long including the tail. Both male and females can be characterised by dorsal and lateral stripes of dark patches with pale centres called ocellations. Males usually have more faint markings than females, yet their flanks morph into a bright green during mating season. They are a medium sized reptile, weighing on average 25 g with males being slightly larger in head size.

This is a species that is only present in the UK due to dedicated work as a part of a reintroduction programme, therefore it is highly protected. It is illegal to catch or disturb a British sand lizard, but perfectly legal to own captive bred European specimens. All our sand lizards are captive bred European specimens.

sand lizard, reptile, emerald lizard

Adult male sand lizard in his breeding colouration (top) and a young male sand lizard resting on some heather.

Feeding

These lizards will feed on any commercially available insects, e.g. mealworms, crickets, wax worms, calci worms, morio worms, roaches and earthworms. It is important to gut-load the feeder insects with fruit, vegetables and dandelions as the nutrients from the food will go straight into the lizards. Dusting the feeder insects is also an important step to ensure your lizard maintains healthy levels of vitamins and calcium. We encourage people to establish natural colonies of insects and invertebrates into the enclosure which will ensure your lizards can get an unlimited supply of a varied diet, at no extra cost! Before the lizard goes into hibernation, it is advised to feed your sand lizards wax worms or any other type of high-fat insects to help cope with the cooler temperatures in winter.

Housing

Sand lizards will really appreciate a vivarium with plenty of space to explore, dig and bask. Therefore, we recommend a vivarium of size 1.5m x 0.5m for a pair or small group. The enclosure should also have 50-60cm of soil for the lizard to burrow down and brumate. A variety of plant species, logs and stones will help create a more natural, realistic environment for the lizard to enjoy. These lizards are found within dune systems in their northern extremes, so it may be beneficial to plant marram grass into their enclsoure. This also makes for great habitats for insects such as ants, spiders and woodlouse: it’s your own microbiome! Remember, the larger the enclosure, the happier the animal, so don’t hesitate to make a larger enclosure. At Celtic Reptile & Amphibian we house all of our animals outdoors in greenhouse enclosures or, in the sand lizard’s case, outdoor vivaria, as this allows vital exposure to the sun and thus, the absorption of UVB light. This also means that no external heating supply or UVB bulb is required. This ensures the animals live the most naturalistic and healthy life possible which can be seen from the stunning colours of our animals! In terms of temperature and humidity, this lizard is rather hardy and so can withstand temperatures as low as 10 C and as high as 30 C , with a happy medium of around 25 C. This species loves to bask and so basking temperatures may need to be higher than the rest of the enclosure, however you can achieve this by ensuring your enclosure is on the south facing wall with no sunlight obstruction.

Habitat of the sand lizard: dunes of Formby Beach, Merseyside, UK  (top) and heathland of Studland Bay, Dorset (bottom).

 

Breeding

Mating occurs within the spring months, and consists of the male biting the base of the females tail and proceeding to intertwine tails. This kind of courtship and mating is not too dissimilar to other lacertids. After a successful mating, the female will become extremely fat, usually 1 to 2 months later. The female will lay between 6 -18 eggs which should ideally be collected and artificially incubated.