What is the legal protection of reptiles?
All reptiles are protected against being killed, injured or sold.
Two reptile species, the Smooth Snake and the Sand Lizard, are also protected under European Law so it is an offence to disturb or capture them and to damage their habitat.
I've found a snake / lizard in my garden, what is it?
There are 3 species of snake and 3 species of lizard native to England. See the Snakes section for descriptions of the snake species.
The three lizard species are:
- Slow-worm - These are often mistaken for snakes but they are in fact a legless lizard. They only grow to about 40cm and are brown or grey in colour with small smooth scales. Females and juveniles have dark flanks with black line along the back. Males have a duller brown/grey background and usually lack the darker markings.
- Common Lizard - Adults grow to approximately 15cm including the tail. Coloured a shade of brown with patterns of spots or stripes down its body.
- Sand Lizard - Adults grow to approximately 20cm. Both sexes have brown patterns down their sides with two dorsal stripes. The male has green sides that become more striking during the breading season (April to May). The Herpetological Conservation Trust website and also the Natural England leaflet Reptiles in your Garden - Your Questions Answered contain more information.