Can a house lizard bite people?
Lizards: nimble gardeners
When we enjoy the summer in a sunny corner of the garden, we often have company unnoticed: A fence lizard takes a long sunbath on a warm, large root, motionless. Especially the green colored male is not immediately recognizable in the grass and the brown-gray female is also well camouflaged. The color pattern of the pretty shed dress is varied: like a fingerprint, individual animals can be recognized by the arrangement of the white lines and dots on the back. There are even black lizards and red-backed fence lizards. In addition to the fence lizard, the common but often very shy forest lizard can be found in the garden, as well as the wall lizard in central and southern Germany. With a little luck, you will also come across the pretty, strikingly colored emerald lizard in the region.
Habitat under threat
The frequency of reptiles increases with us from north to south. Gardens that border on forests, railway lines, gravel pits and other typical habitats are increasingly being populated. However, lizards are increasingly losing their natural habitats through building development or intensive agriculture. Illegal catches for private animal husbandry can also endanger stocks. With the exception of the forest lizard and the slow worm, all lizards are on the red list of endangered animals.
As cold-blooded animals, lizards are highly dependent on temperature in their rhythm of life. The males can be discovered from the beginning of March, the females leave their winter quarters three weeks later - mostly small burrows that they have dug themselves or that were created by other small animals. The lizard mating season begins at the beginning of May at the latest. When looking for a female, the males often forget all caution and are particularly easy to observe. A joint "mating march" precedes the mating. After that, the female spends many hours in the sun to encourage the development of the eggs in her belly. After hatching, the lizard summer is almost over: in August the males go to their winter quarters, the females in September and the young in October.
A lizard-friendly garden offers different areas and temperatures in a confined space: a hedge, tall shrubs or a flower meadow and open areas such as a rock garden or lawn. Poison should be avoided to protect the lizards and their prey. Messy piles of wood for sunbathing, sparsely vegetated ground for laying eggs or high grass islands in the lawn attract lizards. Under no circumstances should lizards be caught in nature and released in the garden. By the way: the up to 50 centimeters long, golden brown slow worm is often referred to as a legless lizard. Although it is more closely related to the lizards than to the snakes, it belongs to the independent family of the sneaks.
Sand lizards in the garden
Fence lizards (Lacerta agilis) are our most common and well-known lizards. They can be found more often in gardens and are easy to observe there. They colonize embankments, hedge fringes, natural stone walls, but also embankments or field borders. Fence lizards reach a length of about 24 centimeters, are strongly built and have rather short legs. Males and females are colored differently. Forest lizards (Zootoca vivipara) are usually gray-brown in color, sometimes almost black. They are around 15 centimeters long, making them the smallest native species of lizard. Forest lizards tend to colonize atypical cooler and humid areas such as forest edges, bogs, quarries and the edges of waters. You can see them as early as February / March when they leave their winter quarters. They are the only lizard species that do not lay eggs, but rather give birth to live young animals. This makes them independent of sunny egg-laying locations.
Eat and be eaten
Lizards are diurnal and relatively localized. They flickering their surroundings to search for insects, spiders and beetles. Lizards also like snails and worms. During the winter dormancy they feed on their reserves.
As young animals, they must be careful of many animals such as robins and beetles; Smooth snake, buzzard, kestrel, crow, stork and cat also prey on older animals. But lizards have a joker: If they are caught by the tail, they can throw it off at a predetermined breaking point and flee. However, they lose their agility and speed and a large part of their fat stores for the winter.
Wall Lizard and Emerald Lizard
Wall lizards (Podarcis muralis) are excellent climbers. You can recognize them by their flat body and their speed. The upper side is usually gray-brown in color, the underside can be white, yellow or reddish. The lizards are about 20 centimeters long (with tail) and are mainly found in wine-growing regions. They settle in ungrounded stone walls and rocky landscapes and can hide in cracks at lightning speed. They often occur on railroad tracks and also get to cities by freight wagons. Emerald lizards (Lacerta bilineata or viridis) are among the most colorful animals in our latitudes. They adorn themselves in bright green with black dots or stripes from the head to the tip of the tail, older males have a bluish throat. Emerald lizards are up to 40 centimeters taller than the other species. A distinction is made between the western (Kaiserstuhl, Middle Rhine, Moselle) and eastern (Danube slopes near Passau, Niederlausitz) emerald lizards, which, however, only differ as hatchlings.
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