Appeal for help to spot ‘alien’ lizards in Sussex

Wall lizards are non-native species from the European continent SUS-170905-120150001

Wall lizards are non-native species from the European continent SUS-170905-120150001

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University researchers are calling on the public to help spot ‘alien’ lizards in East Sussex.

The non-native wall lizard can be found across the south coast and is the focus of a study by scientists at the University of Leeds.

Have you seen a wall lizard like this? SUS-170905-120129001

Have you seen a wall lizard like this? SUS-170905-120129001

Introduced from continental Europe, it can grow up to 20cm (eight inches) in length with a mottled pattern on its back and sometimes blue scales along its sides.

The wall lizard is very agile and, unlike British lizards which spend their time on the ground, can often be seen running up verticle surfaces like rock faces and – of course – walls.

Releasing non-native reptile species into the wild is illegal, and some evidence suggests native lizard numbers have fallen in areas where wall lizards have become established.

To better undestand the animals and their impact on local wildlife, scientists are asking members of the public to help them track the reptiles.

Robert Williams, running the study, said, “They are very easy to spot basking on sunny days. Considerable survey effort is required to get around to all the known wall lizard sites and there is a need for updated population surveys, assessment of range expansion, and of course identification of new populations.

“This is where we need your help! You can help us assess just how widespread the lizards are in the UK and make a valuable contribution to this project by reporting your own wall lizard sightings, whether locally or further afield.”

To take part, show the team exactly where the wall lizard sighting was on their interactive map at bit.ly/lizarduk

For more information, email Robert Williams directly on bsrjw@leeds.ac.uk or visit www.surrey-arg.org.uk