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About CCW Please note - A new body, Natural Resources Wales has taken over all functions and services previously carried out by Countryside Council for Wales. While the Natural Resources Wales website continues to be developed, some online services will continue to be provided on this web site.

Return Of The Sand Lizards

Rare sand lizards are to get a new lease of life as they are released once again onto one of Wales National Nature Reserves.

The dunes at Ynyslas, which is part of the Dyfi NNR, will receive its first release of lizards this week. The sand lizard is the rarest of the two types of native lizards found in Wales, and became extinct from the dunes of north and west Wales in the 1960’s.

The Countryside Council for Wales has invited pupils from Borth Primary School to see the sand lizards before they are released onto the dunes. This will be a special opportunity as sand lizards, although active during the day, are very shy and difficult to spot. Even in good weather they will spend much of their time under cover but can sometimes be seen sunbathing on patches of bare sand.

Mike Bailey, CCW’s Senior Reserve Manager at Dyfi NNR said:

“If you would like to find out more about sand lizards as well as other reptiles and amphibians that live at Ynyslas, you are welcome to join a guided walk on Sunday 20th September. The walk will start from Ynyslas Visitor Centre, where there is also a display about the sand lizard.”

Re-introduction of sand lizards in North Wales started in 1995, and Dr Liz Howe, CCW’s Species expert commented:

“The project has been a resounding success over the past fifteen years or so. We’ve seen numbers increase strongly on all the release sites, because the lizards are now breeding naturally. We also know that they are extending their range as they move further from the reintroduction areas. But it is important that we continue to introduce young lizards to suitable new sites for some years to come – so that a population with a good range of ages and genetic variation is established.”

Adult lizards not only need thick vegetation where they hide and feed in daytime, but also bare sandy areas where they can lay their eggs. They burrow into the sand dunes to hibernate in winter. Some parts of the Welsh coasts were home to high numbers in the early decades of the last century.

The re-introduction programme is a partnership project between the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, the Countryside Council for Wales and Natural England.

More about sand lizards:

  • Sand lizards are considered vulnerable across northwest Europe,
  • They are unmistakeable when seen - they have a series of dark blotches and lighter coloured stripes that run down the back. The bright green flanks of the male are especially striking during the breeding season.
  • Males can grow to 20cms and will fight vigorously for females. They grab the neck of their opponent with their jaws and then roll over and over each other, until one, usually the smaller lizard, retreats.


For further information, please contact:
Meinir Wigley, CCW’s Senior PR Officer on 01686 613400 or 07720 428644.
Dr Liz Howe, CCW’s Species Team leader on 01248 385500
Mike Bailey, CCW’s Senior Reserves Manager for Dyfi NNR on 01970 872900

Notes to editors

  1. The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust was formed from the merger of the Herpetological Conservation Trust and Froglife.
  2. CCW is working for a better Wales where everyone values and cares for our natural environment. More information about our work is available on www.ccw.gov.uk.
  3. Natural England was established by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. Its purpose is to ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development. www.naturalengland.org.uk 
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