The common lizard is the widest distributed land reptile in the world. In Austria, it can be found in all states except Vienna. Montane to subalpine regions in the Alps are preferred. In Ötztal it can be found in several locations. Its habitat includes forest glades, fenlands and bodies of water, alpine meadows with rocks or stone walls as well as stone runs.
Measuring some 18 cm, the common lizard is the smallest reptile in Austria. On the back, the animal is coloured a discreet grey-brown, sometimes with a greenish tint. The sides and back are darker with a spotted vertical stripe. While the female’s abdomen is usually coloured white-yellowish to orange and barely spotted, that of the male is often clearly orange and strongly black dotted. Towards the end of winter, the animals awake from their hibernation. Due to increased concentration of sugars in the blood - “Supercooling” - the animals can survive mild minus temperatures for several weeks without freezing to death. In the beginning of spring, the animals shed their skin. With a body temperature of 25-30°C they go in search of food (e.g. spiders, cicadas, Sternorrhyncha, etc.), look for partners and mate.
The way the common lizard breeds is special indeed: as its Latin name suggests, it reproduces viviparously, i.e. live-bearing. The female does not lay any eggs, but the young animals developed in the womb over 2 - 3 months and are born alive in summer.
In Austria, the common lizard is regarded as “nearly endangered”. This is equivalent to an early warning stage, which shows that endangerments (e.g. drainage of fenlands and wet meadows, ski piste construction) may lead to a threat to the population.