Sand lizards are small colorful lizards found in Europe and in parts of Asia. Their coloration varies across their European and Russian range. In northwest Europe, both the males and the females have lateral and dorsal strips of ocellated (eye-shaped) markings, dark patches with pale centers. Males have finer markings than females, and their flanks turn bright green during the spring mating season, fading again in the late summer.
Sand lizards are distributed across most of Europe and eastwards to Mongolia and northwest China. They live in a wide range of habitat types including lowland heathlands and sand dunes, meadows, grasslands, steppes, shrubland, and open woodlands. They also occupy a range of man-made habitats, including railway lines, roadsides, field boundaries, and rural gardens.
Sand lizards are solitary and diurnal creatures; during the day they bask on rocks and at night return into their holes underground. They feed at any time of the day using several hunting methods. They may ambush their prey item as well as chasing it. When they need to protect themselves, these lizards will freeze relying upon their camouflage, or pop-off their tails and bite the predators. During the winter months, Sand lizards hibernate in burrows which they typically dig in sandy soil; in early spring males always emerge first and prepare for the mating season.
The breeding season of Sand lizards takes place in spring. After a few weeks from hibernation, males become extremely aggressive towards each other, trying to mate as many females as they can. In late May or early June, females lay eggs in loose sand in a sunny location, leaving them to be incubated by the warmth of the ground. The clutch consists of 6-14 eggs and incubation usually takes between 50-55 days. Upon hatching the young are fully-developed and are able to take care of themselves. Generally, males reach reproductive maturity at a smaller size compared with females
Sand lizards are facing multiple threats including habitat destruction, habitat degradation, habitat fragmentation, lack of habitat management, and inappropriate habitat management. Many lizards are killed on roads or suffer disturbance from humans.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Sand lizard total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.