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Sand lizard

The Sand Lizard is a lacertid lizard distributed across most of Europe and eastwards to Mongolia. It does not occur in the Iberian peninsula or European Turkey. Its distribution is often patchy.

The Sand Lizard has a light underbelly and a dorsal stripe: males tend to be darker and colour and turn partly or wholly bright green during the mating season. Sand Lizards can reach up to 25 cm (10 in) in length.

It has several sub-species, the westernmost of which is Lacerta agilis agilis. In this and the other main western sub-species (Lacerta agilis argus) the dorsal stripe is thin and interrupted, or not present at all. This applies particularly to the latter sub-species, which also includes a plain red or brown-backed phase without any dorsal markings. In these two sub-species only the flanks of the males turn green in the mating season, but in the eastern sub-species (predominantly Lacerta agilis exigua) males can be wholly green, even outside the breeding season.

It is regarded as threatened and is strictly protected under UK law – as it is throughout most of Europe (it is a European Protected Species). This is in contrast to Lacerta agilis exigua, whose Russian name translates as the "common lizard".

The female Sand Lizard lays eggs in loose sand in a sunny location, leaving them to be incubated by the warmth of the ground.