Flanders Moss NNR
July is the time when as long as the weather hasn’t been too bad, the young lizards are being born across the moss. The mothers give birth to up to 11 live youngsters, unusually for reptiles they don’t lay eggs. These young lizards are tiny, only about 4cm long and that includes the tail. But they need to grow fast as they need to get to a reasonable size to be able to get through the winter in hibernation. To do this you can see them racing around the moss gobbling as many flies as possible.
It is a tough life for a small lizard as only about 2/3 of those born during the summer make it through the winter. And another third don’t make it to the next summer. But once they reach full size and adulthood their survival chances improve with about 5 out of 6 adults make it through hibernation to the next spring.
So from now onwards it is worth taking a bit of time on a warm day looking out for the kids on the boardwalk. They are more active that the adults, as they warm up quicker and stay active longer in the day. If you see one dart away and hide just stand there quietly and within minutes they will usually come back up on to the boards. As they quickly grow they change colour from an almost black to start with through to a copper colour as they get older. They have a way to go as it takes a male 2 years to grow big enough to breed and 3 years for a female to reach breeding age. Flanders is still one of the best placers in Scotland to have an up close and personal view of these rather special creatures.