Little dragons – from the boardwalk 4

Flanders Moss NNR

For me, getting good close up views of common lizards on the boardwalk is one of the best things about visits to Flanders.   A bit of warmth and maybe some sun is needed for you to see them. If you walk slowly and look, especially along the kicking boards at the edge of the boardwalk,  you stand a good chance of seeing them.   Once you get your eye in, you can spot individuals of all ages, colours and sizes. In August the young lizards are born and you can see tiny black lizards all along the path.

You can tell the difference between males and females, the males have a proportionally larger head and an orange belly with spots. The females a smaller head with an unspotted pale belly.  Below seems likely to be a female, above a male?
This fine looking specimen (maybe a female as has a smaller head) has gone through a previous trauma. When you look at the lower picture you can see that it has shed its tail and started to grow a new one. Lizards shed their tails if threatened by a predator. The shed tail can move after it has been dropped for a little while which distracts the predator while allowing the lizard to escape. Adders are probably the main predator on the moss. The tail that grows back is not an exact copy of the original tail – it has a long tube of cartilage rather than vertebrae so it has some of the function of the original one but not all.

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