Jewel-bright lizards look at home on one British isle

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Ventnor Botanic Garden, Isle of Wight A balmy microclimate and a scrubland habitat support Britain’s oldest colony of wall lizards

In mainland Britain the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) is considered an alien species, and concerns have been raised that competition from this robust and agile continental reptile may be hastening the decline of our rare native sand lizard (Lacerta agilis).

The Isle of Wight colony is the longest established population of wall lizards in Britain and a celebrated part of the island’s fauna, though its origin is hotly debated. It is believed that in the 1920s there were deliberate releases of the reptile, though local legend has it that they are descendants of survivors from a shipwreck off Bonchurch.

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