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There are 4 different types of Lizard in this region, so identification should be fairly straightforward.

They are the Slow worm (Anguis fragilis), the Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis), the Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata), and the Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta leptida). It is these last two which could cause some confusion as they are both green and both grow quite big, also in their younger or juvenile stages they can look a bit similar.

The Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) In French it is called Orvet.Slow-Worm-Bruce-Shortland

(This photo was taken by Bruce Shortland and was in an article for the Welsh wildlife trust.)

This is a lizard but it does not have any external limbs, so looks a bit like a snake, for this reason they are sometimes killed by people who think that all snakes should die, which they should not. In particular the Slow worm should not be persecuted because their favourite food sd little grey slugs that do so much harm in the vegetable garden. The excellent photo above shows a typical example but they can be more dark grey or sometimes more brown to buff colour, even golden. Sometimes they also show blue grey dots along the sides. They can grow up to 50cm long.

Males will fight one another in the breeding season and these fights can result in injury and you sometimes find old males with scar tissue on their undersides. Also as with other lizards they have the ability to shed their tail if being attacked. Snakes cannot do this. The tail never really recovers and a dark short stump will grow back, but it does not look as attractive as the original tail. The other difference between lizards and snakes is that lizards have eye lids and so can close their eyes, snakes cannot do this.

The Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis) Lezard des Murailles in French.These are the most common lizards in this part of France, they look similar to the Common Lizard which you get in Britain but the Common lizard does not live in the Poitou-Charentes region of France so that means if you see a small brown lizard it is a Wall Lizard.Wall Lizard2

These lizards grow up to 10 or even 15cm in length including tail, and as their name suggests they are often to be found on sunny walls. They hunt for their prey which consists mostly of small insects like flies and they like spiders. They all seem to show the same coloration which is brown with darker and lighter brown dots and blotches as shown in the photo.

The Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata), Lezard Vert, this can get a bit bigger, up to 40cm long and is often green, the adult males can be quite a vivid green and also have a blue throat, however the females and younger ones will vary and can be a greenish brown and also have some pale stripes which is a bit confusing, however the wall lizard never has any hint of green. So the only possible confusion lies with the Ocellated lizard. Here is a photo of a green lizard which comes from a very good blog site called My life in the Charente.260913LizardGreenHead

To view the blog click  My Life in the Charente  I have seen green lizards in the coastal dunes along the Cote Sauvage south of Rochefort, but not inland, they are not so common. These lizards have a varied diet which includes insects, some fruit and even birds eggs.

The Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) Lezard Ocelle, These can get quite big  ie up to 90 cm nose to tail. They are a green grey colour but the most obvious feature is the blue spots along the sides, which are not universally present but also the adults have a black stippled pattern on their back.

I have only seen these lizards in the south of the region, there were a lot living under the big hedges around my parents-in-laws house which was near Brossac. I suspect that they are no longer there as the new TGV line is being constructed about 50 M from their property, (they no longer own it !) These lizards will eat large insects like grasshoppers but also take smaller lizards and snakes also they will raid nests for eggs and fledglings.

Finally can I recommend a site called Herp France which has excellent photos and descriptions of all the reptiles and amphibian which are found in France, however that is quite a lot as it covers all France from Calais to the Pyrenees and includes Corsica. So here we are dealing with just what is in Poitou-Charentes.  Not far from this region and possibly just inside you might come across two other lizards, The Common Lizard and the Sand Lizard, but as it is unlikely that you will see them here they are not included in this blog.

Other posts on this blog which may interest you are;



To see other photos I have taken click Alamy Photos