Go Wild on Wight

reptiles & amphibians

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With one of the warmest climates in the British Isles, the Island is a haven for reptiles, including the famous colony of Wall Lizards in Ventnor.

Habitat Action Plan
Heathland and Acid Grassland HAP (Revised 2008)

The Isle of Wight, as a southern county, has a warm climate and few frosts, and so is suitable habitat for the commoner reptile and amphibian species found in the United Kingdom. Of particular interest is the colony of wall lizards in Ventnor.

The adder and grass snake are both found on the Island. The adder is quite common, and often encountered by walkers (or their dogs) whilst basking in the sun on the downs or cliffs. The grass snake is more retiring, and is more likely to be found near water or in woodland. The UK's other native snake, the smooth snake, does not occur on the island. The common or viviparous lizard, and the slow-worm, are both found in most parts of the Island.

The wall lizard, found in Ventnor, is a continental species that is very rare in England, and thought to be introduced rather than indigenous. A colony of the green-backed form of this variable species has been known in Ventnor for many decades. The origins of this colony are unclear and whilst the lizards are likely to have been introduced it is possible that they could belong to a relict native population. For those who wish to spot wall lizards, a hot sunny afternoon in late summer is best, although they can be seen for much of the summer season. Many parts of Ventnor support the animal, particularly the lower and more open parts of the town, and the older areas where old stone walls are commoner. In general the lizards like to bask in the sun on south-facing rocks and, not surprisingly, walls. The public car park at La Falaise, west of the Esplanade, is a well-known and easily accessible site for the lizards.

The UK Wall Lizard Project

Frogs, toads, common newts and smooth newts are all to be found in many parts of the Isle of Wight, rarely far from water. The rare great crested newt is also found in a few Island locations.

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