Reptiles

There are two reptile species in the park; the native Common or Viviparous Lizard and introduced Slow Worm.


Common (or Viviparous) Lizard

Latin Name: Zootoca vivipara (formerly Lacerta vivipara)

Irish Name: Laghairt

Description: This lizard is Ireland's only native reptile and is on average 10-16cm (4-6 inches) in length but can reach a length of 18cm (7 inches). The coarse, dry scales on the lizard's back can be a variety of colours including grey, brown, copper or green, with a black stripe running down the centre of the back, and a scattering of black spots over the body. Male lizards have orange-yellow bellies with black spots, while females have creamy white bellies usually without spots. The young are produced live and not from eggs (hence the name viviparous) as is normal with reptiles. They are an important part of the kestrel's diet and are also eaten by stoat, mink and domestic cats.

Diet: They eat insects, spiders, slugs, snails and earthworms pouncing on their prey and stunning it by shaking before swallowing it whole.

Where to find in the park: Seen basking on the limestone pavement.

When to see: They hibernate in winter occasionally emerging during warmer spells and re-emerge to breed March-October.

Slow Worm

Latin Name: Anguis fragilis

Description: This non-native species was illegally introduced into the Burren region in the 1970's from the UK where it has been granted protected status due to its declining population. Despite their name and appearance, slow worms are neither worms nor snakes, but are in fact legless lizards. They have smooth, golden-grey skin. Males are paler and sometimes have blue spots, while females are larger with dark sides and a dark stripe down the back. Adult slow worms grow to be about 50 cm long. These reptiles are mostly active during the twilight and occasionally bask in the sun, but are more often found hiding beneath rocks and logs.

Diet: Slugs and worms.

Where to find in the park: In the grasslands.

When to see: They hibernate in winter occasionally emerging during warmer spells and re-emerge to breed March-October.