Reptile guide for Jersey

Reptile guide for Jersey

We have four species of reptiles on Jersey - Slow Worms, Grass Snake, Wall Lizards and Green Lizards.

With the sunny weather, temperatures rising and the arrival of spring there have been more and more reptile records coming in through the Jersey Biodiversity Centre Facebook page, Jersey Wildlife and through our online recording form.

It's surprising on such a small island that you are never too far away from spotting a reptile. Whether you have never seen one before or are a regular lizard spotter the feeling of seeing them close to home is stunning.

Slow Worms

Slow worm, Piers Sangan

Looking very much like a snake these guys are actually legless lizards. Like many lizards they have the ability to shed their tails to escape predators which is called autotomize. They grow up to 50cm in length and the juveniles of both sexes are gold with brown bellies and sides. Adult males and females look slightly different with a black strip running along the side of the body of the females. The above photo shows a female. In Jersey the slow worm distribution is mainly in the west along Les Mielle Nature Reserve, St Brelades and Noirmont. There is also a population in the east at Grouville Golf Course.

Grass Snakes

Grass snake, Rob Ward

Grass snakes are non-venomous snakes that are often sighted near water as they feed almost entirely on amphibians. Spotting them is tricky due to their excellent camouflage in long grass. Typically the species is a dark green or brown colour with a yellow collar behind its neck. The grass snake is the rarest reptile in Jersey. Historically they were numerous across the island but their numbers have declined dramatically. Now the grass snake has recently undergone a population survey to help see how many are left and where they are found. This survey identified key areas that were used by the remaining population: Noirmont, Ouaisne, Les Mielles Nature Reserve and La Moye Golf Course. The species has also been spotted elsewhere but the largest population is found in the west.

Wall Lizards

Wall Lizard, Simon Robson

The wall lizard is found nowhere else in the British Isles except for around twenty separate introduced colonies in the UK. Wall lizards are small and thin, generally a brown to grey colour with sections of green. They are found in the east of the island with the largest population located at Mont Orgueil Castle. There are smaller populations mainly near fortifications: Fort Leicester in Bouley Bay, Rozel Fort, St Aubin’s Fort, Victoria Tower and Coronation Park.

Green Lizards

Green lizard, David Tipping

Green lizards are probably the most iconic of all Jersey's reptiles, with their striking green and blue colours they are a perfect model for photographers. They are a large species, growing up to 15cm in length. Males are bright green with a bright blue throat and females have the same bright green colouration but with a duller blue throat. Found in many coastal areas they prefer long grasses within a sand dune system. They are found across the island with the largest populations located in the west along Le Mielles Nature Reserve and along the east coast Grouville Golf Course.

All of Jersey's reptiles are protected under the Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law which prohibits the disturbance of these species and also protects their habitat. This includes looking under refugia mats unless you have the required licence for monitoring these species. Refugia mats are corrugated roofing material which provide idea conditions for reptiles to hide underneath. Lifting these refugia impacts disturbs the animals causing them to move away from the area before recorded by the monitoring staff.

If you have any recent sighting of these species let us know at:

Sarah Maguire