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Here Be Dragons

Last weekend I went to the Vendee region of France to stay with friends. They have renovated an old house with a selection of out buildings into a really nice home in the village of Apremont.

After a proper downpour on the first night the weather turned very warm and sunny and I was told by my friend that if I wanted some local wildlife to go and sit in front of his wood store.

So I did.

The wall is South facing and quickly warmed up bringing lizards out of almost every nook and crack.

The Common Wall Lizard or Lézard des Murailles is far and away the most common lizard in France and can vary in colour by region and area. They vary in size from an inch or two up to some I saw which were over 6 inches from nose to tail. They have an elongated appearance due to their long thin tail which makes up around half of their length.

Males tend to be more colourful than the females which are generally a more drab brown colour. The common wall lizard is present throughout France where they prefer open, sunny areas with little vegetation, old stone walls, quarries, roadsides and tracks, or as here emerging between the stones of an old out building.

They are amazing climbers, their sharp claws allowing them to cling to almost anything and easily scaling the smoother plaster on the outside of one wall.

These lizards will be preparing for hibernation which depending on the area of France starts around November till April/May. If the weather is mild they will break their hibernation and forage for any available food source. As soon as hibernation is over the breeding season starts with males fighting for the females attention.

The female lays between 2 and 10 eggs, up to three times during the breeding season, in soft soil or under rocks, and they hatch after about 2 months. The eggs are oval, about 10 mm and soft when first laid, swelling up to 15 mm. Although very common in France the lizards are protected by law.

There was no shortage of them in this particular garden in Apremont and at one point I counted 14 on the shed roof basking in the late summer sunshine.

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