Simon Walker's picture

Common Lizard, Recently Lost Tail

Observed: 10th September 2012 By: Simon WalkerSimon Walker’s reputation in Amphibians and ReptilesSimon Walker’s reputation in Amphibians and ReptilesSimon Walker’s reputation in Amphibians and Reptiles
Common Lizard, lost tail, Fowlmere, 2012-09-10 001
Common Lizard, lost tail, Fowlmere, 2012-09-10 004
Lizard, Common, tail regrown, Wicken Fen, 2011-08-22 003
Description:

These lizards shed their tails if seized by them, so don't try picking them up from that end. Slow worms are the same, and probably sand lizards too (though I don't know that for a fact). This one is fairly recent.
I don't know how this works; it may be that there's just a weak point in the tail, or perhaps it's the lizard actively separates itself from the menaced portion of its tail. Perhaps someone knows?
The tail partially regrows. The third picture is another example from Wicken Fen, taken last year.
UPDATE: There are some items on YouTube showing lizards and tail loss. In these, the tail thrashes about after separation, presumably to divert the predator. Not Common Lizards in the UK, but I'd not be surprised if it works the same way.
I also found this: "Many such lizards possess special adaptations for tail loss, including weak fracture planes within each tail vertebra, muscular attachments that facilitate autotomy and tail movement after dismemberment, as well as mechanisms for rapidly closing off blood vessels and healing."

Identifications
Species interactions

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Comments

Masked Marvel's picture

Yes, that's how it works in

Yes, that's how it works in common lizards too.

Eskling's picture

Sad to see a tail missing

... but at least it means it escaped a predator!

(Good advice on not picking them up by the tail. Even better is not to pick them up at all!)

Simon Walker's picture

I Agree

...but I was thinking of ANY lizards, though I could have worded it better.

I've never tried to pick up a wild lizard of any sort, but I reckon you'd have to be pretty quick to do it, much quicker than I am anyway!

Regards