The green lizard: where and how does it live?


The green lizard is particularly distinguished in times of reproduction when her throat turns a beautiful blue turquoise. A typically masculine attire intended to conquer females and impress rivals. Focus on this discreet animal that blends into the vegetation and makes us jump when it flees noisily through the undergrowth.

Presentation of the green lizard

Also called green lizard western or two-striped lizard, the green lizard (Lacerta bilineata) belongs to the Lacertidae family. It is part of saurians, a suborder of reptiles also including iguanas, geckos, crocodiles and chameleons. While its total length varies from 20 to 35 cm, some specimens can reach 40 cm, making Lacerta bilineata the second largest lizard in France after the ocellated lizard. Its broad, slightly flattened head ends in a short muzzle. It has four small arched legs, each with five fingers clawed.

The neon dress of the green lizard

If both sexes have their backs green speckled with black and the united yellow or pale green belly, they differ in other aspects:

  • The male displays a massive head, an apple-green coat, a very characteristic turquoise-blue throat during breeding season and numerous black dots more or less clear on the body;
  • The female has less vivid tones, generally green or brown, and its throat may also turn blue during mating season, but less bright than the male. Each side of its body has two or four stingrays lighter and speckled with black.

The juveniles have a brown dorsal colouration, creamy white belly, light green flanks and a green throat.

Green lizard: common south of the Loire

Originally fromEurope western, the green lizard is found in northern Spain, Italy, Switzerland, southern Germany, the Balkans to southern Russia. In France, it is very widespread in the south of the Loire (in the center, the south and the west) but absent from Alsace or Corsica. The reptile is dependent on a fairly thick, low and spicy where it finds abundant food and many hiding places in case of danger. He thus frequents edges of woods and forests, glades, meadows, the edges of paths and embankments, wasteland.

The green lizard flees the cold

The green lizard is diurnal and sensitive at the temperature which determines its rate of activity. Thewintering begins around mid-October and lasts about five months. Females return to the burrow first, followed by males and young. In the cold season, the reptile remains nestled in its refuge to extract itself from it when the rays of the Sun spring begin to warm the atmosphere (its minimum tolerated temperature is 15 °). The males will then be the first to come out, followed by the females one to two weeks later.

The reptile cracks in summer

Once out of its wintering hole, the green lizard looks for a clutter of plants near places dry and well exposed. It will thus brown the pill in areas of scree, on walls, stones, as well as in the compost heaps and the brambles that litter our gardens. The thermal optimum that it supports is 33 °. During the hottest periods, the saurian hunts in the morning, with a peak of activity observed between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. In the afternoon, his activity is reduced and his movements are made on the ground.

The green lizard drinks the morning dew

Omnivorous, the green lizard eats various invertebrates (and their larvae): spiders, grasshoppers, butterflies, earthworms, beetles, hairless caterpillars and other insects. The reptile also consumes woodlice, fine-shelled molluscs and sometimes berries blackberries fallen to the ground of which it sucks the juice. On occasion, he does not disdain bird eggs. Like snakes, the lizard uses its tongue to smell scents. His teeth not being strong enough to masticate, it grabs its prey with its powerful jaws and swallows them whole. The green lizard often drinks while licking the drops of dew on plants.

The brittle tail of the green lizard

All the lizards present in France are harmless. If the green lizard can try to bite or nip when grabbed, it will usually opt for the escape in case of danger. To save its life, the animal is ready to sacrifice its tail. The defense mechanism is called autotomy : by contraction of the muscles – because its vertebrae are not attached to each other – its tail breaks and move always after uprooting. While the predator’s attention is focused on this lure, the lizard takes the opportunity to take the tangent!

Up to two eggs per year

The mating season extends from April to mid-June, from the end of the rainy season. During this period, the males chase each other loudly in the vegetation and engage in fights violent, even fatal. A female can lay eggs 2 times during the year: generally towards the end of May then the end of June. Between 5 and 20 eggs are deposited in a shallow burrow dug by the female on soft ground such as sand or silt. Time toincubation depends on temperature, between 7 and 14 weeks. Newborns – who are 3 to 5 cm tall and weigh around 1 gram – begin to disperse at the age of 2 months.

The green lizard is not threatened

Given their small size which makes them vulnerable, few juveniles reach maturity. Raptors, cats, weasels and snakes (large green and yellow snake, asp viper) are among the main predators of the saurian. The animal suffers today from the reduction in its habitat due to urbanization, destruction of hedges and wasteland. Living between 5 and 15 years, the green lizard is a species protected : its destruction, its capture, the trade in specimens caught in the wild are forbidden.

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