A new home for Marwell’s tiny but mighty native lizards

January 25, 2019

The projects team are on a tight deadline to complete building work on the sand lizard enclosure before spring…

In 2018 our Conservation team released 86 sand lizards back into the wild at Eelmoor Marsh near Farnborough, a Site of Special Scientific Interest owned by QinetiQ and managed in conjunction with Marwell. This was part of our ongoing reintroduction project in partnership with the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and Natural England. 2018 was the second release undertaken by the conservation team and this reintroduction was pioneering due to the Biotrack radio transmitters fitted onto 24 sand lizards. These trackers allowed the team to monitor their movements and this was the first time radio tracking has been used to monitor reintroduced sand lizards in the UK!

Our sand lizards are actually homed in an area out of public view within the park. Since the release we have been fundraising for a new upgrade to their area! This work is on a tight schedule to be completed as sand lizards, along with all native reptiles, brumate underground over the winter, generally between November and March. This is when their metabolism completely slows down, which is similar to hibernation in warm-blooded animals, however the cold-blooded creatures may still emerge on particularly warm days.

FatFace in Winchester has been raising money for the new enclosure which was due for a well-needed upgrade. The new and robust enclosure will provide a safer area for the sand lizards and prevent bother from other wildlife, such as birds and other small mammals as well as increase the size of our facilities for breeding, studying and reintroducing these colourful but otherwise elusive animals. The projects team have been working hard to get the enclosure complete before the lizards emerge from their brumation over the winter period, around March. If you want to get involved with this project you are able to donate on our website.