Irish Wildlife Trust searching for lizards in Offaly

Justin Kelly

Reporter:

Justin Kelly

Email:

justin.kelly@iconicnews.ie

Irish Wildlife Trust searching for lizards in Offaly

Ireland is home to two lizard species and this spring the Irish Wildlife Trust is calling on wildlife enthusiasts to volunteer as citizen scientists and go lizard spotting in Offaly. The IWT National Reptile Survey needs volunteers right across the Midlands to carry out reptile surveys this spring and summer and help shed light on the state of Ireland's lizards.

Ireland is home to two species of land dwelling reptile, the viviparous lizard and the slow worm. The viviparous lizard, or common lizard, is a native Irish reptile. This elusive little creature is found throughout Ireland in areas such as bogland, coastal areas and scrub land. It feeds on small insects and slugs and has adapted to the cooler climate by giving birth to live young. Our second reptile, the slow worm, is an even more peculiar creature as it looks like a small snake but is in fact a legless lizard. Yes, a lizard that adapted to a life without legs, sliding through the undergrowth hunting slugs and insects. This creature was introduced to Ireland in the 1970s and is found in the Burren region.

Through this citizen scientist led survey the IWT hopes to determine the current distribution of these two reptile species. "This knowledge will allow us to monitor any changes in the population of our native reptile to ensure that any decline does not go unnoticed before it is too late. Our results should also shed light on the spread of the introduced slow worm and effects this might have on other wildlife. Much of Ireland's wildlife remains under recorded and under protected. Through projects like this the people of Ireland can help us learn vital information about our wildlife helping us safeguard their populations” says survey coordinator Kieran Flood.

Anyone can volunteer for this survey and previous experience is not required. Volunteers on this project are asked to attend training workshops after which they will choose an area in their locality to carry out a simple reptile survey, the results of which will be returned to the Trust to compile up to date records and maps for these species.

The workshops will cover Irish reptile identification, reptile surveying, and species recording techniques through a combination of indoor and outdoor tuition. Booking is essential for these workshops, but they are free of charge for IWT members and cost €5 for non members.

The Offaly Workshop is taking place on Sunday, March 26 from 11:00am-3:00pm at Teach Lea Community Centre Boora, Co Offaly. To book a place contact conservation@iwt.ie or call 01 860 2839.

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