Sand lizards released back to the wild on Merseyside

Eighty sand lizards have been released as part of a project to protect the species in Merseyside, North West England.

The sand lizard is, according to the Wildlife Trust, the UK’s rarest lizard.

80 captive-bred sand lizards released on the Sefton Coast. Pic - Phil Smith

80 captive-bred sand lizards released on the Sefton Coast. Pic - Phil Smith

Released on the Sefton Coast, at The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Freshfield Dune Heath, the captive-bred sand lizards are part of a long-term conservation project.

The release at Freshfield is one of 19 projects within the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership Scheme, a three year Heritage Lottery Funded Project being delivered by the Sefton Coast Partnership.

It is also supported by the North Merseyside Amphibian and Reptile Group, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and Natural England.

In the UK, sand lizards only live on two rare habitats, sand-dunes and lowland dry heath.

A healthy population still survives on the sand dunes of the Sefton Coast but they have been lost from the heathland.

Last September, 34 juvenile Sand Lizards were released at Freshfield and a number have been found and photographed since, moving further away from the release site than had been anticipated.

Merseyside sand lizards have a unique genetic make-up and the juveniles due for release have been captive bred from local stock by individuals from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

The animals are being released now to allow them to get used to the re-introduction site gradually before hibernation in October.

Fiona Whitfield of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust said: “We are excited at the arrival of a new species for the reserve and to be a part of these important local and national projects. There is a large population of common lizards on Freshfield Dune Heath so we are confident that the sand lizards will thrive here.”

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