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Reptiles and Amphibians - British Reptiles
This Common Wall Lizard is an introduced species in southern Britain. (Photo courtesy of Axel Rouvin at Wikipedia.)

Reptiles and Amphibians - British Reptiles

There are six species of reptiles native to the UK. Dry heathlands are the best natural habitats for British reptiles, but semi-natural areas with heath-like conditions such as railway embankments, sea walls, road verges, churchyards, golf courses and almost any area with a sunny south facing slope and open vegetation may be suitable. Lizards have the ability to 'self amputate' their tails for protection. The process is known as 'autotomy'.

All native reptiles are protected in Britain under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. This protection under law helps counteract the decline of all the species. The Act also protects the rarest reptiles in Britain, the smooth snake and the sand lizard, by making it an offence to possess, handle, capture or disturb them.

To see a larger image, click on the picture.
1.
Can you identify this British reptile?
Photograph courtesy of Christian Fischer.
Dice snake
Smooth Snake
Aesculapian Snake
Adder
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Coronella
  • Species: C. austriaca
  • Rarest of our native snakes.
  • Lives on heathlands in Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey where it can lay its eggs in sandy soils.
  • Have round pupils to their eyes.
2.
What is one difference between the male and female common lizard?
Photograph courtesy of Jörg Hempel
The underside of the male is brightly-coloured with spots
The underside of the female is brightly-coloured with spots
The male has a large red ruff around its neck
The female has a large red ruff around its neck
Females have a yellow, grey or greenish underside with few or no spots
3.
Can you identify this British reptile?
Photograph courtesy of Fafner
Slow worm
Dice snake
Grass Snake
Adder
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Natrix
  • Species: N. natrix
  • Are usually around 120 cms long.
  • Live in a variety of rough habitats with long grass.
  • Lay their eggs into piles of warm, rotting vegetation.
  • They become rarer the further north you travel and are hardly ever found in Scotland.
4.
The Common Lizard is viviparous. What does this mean?
Photograph courtesy of Marek Szczepanek
Gives birth to live young
Smells with its feet
Changes colour for camouflage
Has no stomach
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Lacertidae
  • Genus: Zootoca
  • Species: Z. vivipara
  • Also known as viviparous lizard.
  • Are able to live almost anywhere, but they prefer reasonably warm places with good basking sites and are frequently found on the stony ballast around railway lines.
Most lizards lay eggs
5.
The adder has a marking on its head which is similar to which letter of the alphabet?
Photograph courtesy of Zdeněk Fric
B
G
J
V
X, M and H are also descriptions of the marking
6.
A slow-worm has something that lizards have but snakes don't. What is it?
Photograph courtesy of Valerius Geng
A forked tongue
Scales
Legs
Eyelids
Slow-worms also shed their tails when captured, a typical feature of a lizard
7.
Which of the following would a grass snake be least likely to eat?
Frogs
Newts
Rabbits
Birds
Grass snakes are active predators and swallow the prey in one piece while it is still alive
8.
Can you identify this British reptile?
Photograph courtesy of Piet Spaans
Aesculapian Snake
Grass Snake
Adder
Dice snake
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Genus: Vipera
  • Species: V. berus
  • Found all over Britain and are our only snakes with a poisonous bite, but this is rarely fatal to humans.
  • Have the most varied diet of British snakes, feeding mainly on field voles, but also mice, lizards, nestling birds, eggs and amphibians.
9.
What is the slow worm's alternative name?
Photograph courtesy of Marek_bydg
Fake snake
Lounge lizard
Lazy lizard
Blind worm
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Anguidae
  • Genus: Anguis
  • Species: A. fragilis
  • Native to Britain.
  • Neither a worm nor a snake, the slow worm is a lizard.
  • Evolved into a legless form to suit their burrowing lifestyle.
  • They have an almost cylindrical body which is hard and smooth to the touch.
This is because it has eyelids, which snakes do not have
10.
Can you identify this British reptile?
Photograph courtesy of M. Betley
Common Wall Lizard
Sand Lizard
European green lizard
Common Lizard
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Lacertidae
  • Genus: Lacerta
  • Species: L. agilis
  • Found mainly in southern Britain.
  • Has the ability to take food in large quantities when it is freely available and will eat most types of insects, worms, slugs and can eat their own young too, if necessary.

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