The more widespread of out two native limbed lizards it is found in almost all mainland counties in Britain and Ireland but locations tend to be fragmented and patchily distributed.
These lizards are often found in open habitats, notably heathlands, moors, open woodland, sand dunes, sea cliffs, hedge banks and sparse natural grassland. They prefer areas with free draining soils and a sunny aspect - habitat features which also benefit their invertebrate prey. Common Lizards are also found on man-made habitats such as brownfield sites, railways embankments, motorway/road verges. Often entirely absent in areas of land with intensive agricultural management.
Common Lizards are sun-loving animals and frequently bask in the sunshine, especially in the Spring or Autumn. Occasionally animals will bask out in the open on bare ground but more often a lizard will use a log pile or a pile of debris an easy escape route will always be present for the basking animal. Lizards are extremely alert and active and often missed as a result. Like Other reptiles, these lizards hibernate in their case this is usually from October to early April. Hibernation sites include underground burrows, and cracks and crevices in rocks or log piles. As a defence against predators a lizard can shed its tail which will then twitch on the ground all by itself - potentially as a distraction for the predator. The lizard will re-grow its tail though there will always be a scar and the new tail is often shorter.
Courtship occurs shortly after emergence from hibernation. The fertilised eggs then develop within the female for a gestation period of around 3 months the female will bask extensively during this period to aid the development of the young. After this period she gives birth to between 4 and 10 wriggling young which for the first few hours of life are constrained by a thin membrane - a sharp egg-tooth allows them to break free. Babies are small being 1.5-2.5cm in length from snout to vent.
This species is now a priority species within the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and has associated conservation targets. It is also protected from killing, injuring or taking by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)