Viviparous Lizard - Lacerta vivipara
Also known as the European Common Lizard, this species is able to live in very cold climates due to the female's ability to incubate and hatch eggs inside her body, allowing her to give birth to live young. The male (pictured) is usually much larger than the female, and in Wicklow they can grow to more than 20cm long. About half of the lizard's length is its tail. If threatened or an attempt is made to grab a lizard, they will frequently drop their tails, leaving only a slightly bloody stub. The dropped tail continues to thrash around so as to keep a predator's attention while the owner makes a hasty escape. Eventually the tail grows back, although it's not quite as elegant as the whip-like originally, being instead quite thick and lumpy.
Lizards can bee seen basking on walls in lowlands and on hillsides right across Wicklow, and are often easily overlooked due to their camouflage, and remarkable brazen ability to stay completely still. They can be approached quite closely with a camera if you move very slowly and don't "stalk" in a predatory manner, showing more ambivalence. A sun-drenched lizard is will be confident of its lightning-fast speed should it need to escape, so will be remarkably tolerant of a photographer.
Viviparous Lizards eat many kinds of insects and small invertebrates that live among the bracken-covered hills and coastal dune systems of Wicklow.
Photo courtesy of Johanna Lundquist.