Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

London's Famously Slippery Customers; WildLondon

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

London's Famously Slippery Customers; WildLondon

Article excerpt

UNDER London's sporadic summer sunshine, common lizards bask motionless on logs, stones and even concrete rubble, soaking up heat but always ready to zip into lightning-fast action, darting for cover if threatened.

They are Britain's most common and widespread reptile, and are often spotted when walking through grassland and heathland on the outskirts of our city, basking in sunny spots. We often see them at our nature reserves at this time of year, especially at chalk grassland sites like Hutchinson's Bank, Chapel Bank and Saltbox Hill.

They grow to 15cm in length, including a long tail, which they can discard if grabbed by a predator. The tail hopefully distracts their hungry foe while the rest of the lizard makes a quick getaway, and can later be regenerated. They are well camouflaged, with a striped skin of mottled grey-brown scales, but they still need to be wary as they can be taken by birds of prey, as well as foxes and cats.

During winter, lizards hibernate under logs and rocks or below ground, emerging in spring as the temperature rises. …

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