Wall lizard project - Farnham Castle colony

Farnham Castle
(Surrey)

 

Closest Town:

FARNHAM (1.2 km)

 

Introduction date:

1932

Site Name:

Farnham Castle

 

Source of introduction:

Sourced from a London dealer - believed to be French stock.

Site Access:

Public

 

Colony Status:

Extirpated

Relative population estimate:

0

 

Extirpation date:

Circa 1989

 
History:

The earliest recorded attempt to naturalize Wall lizards in Britain took place in May 1932, when twelve lizards of the brown-backed form (Podarcis muralis muralis) were bought from a London dealer, and released in a walled garden at Farnham Castle in Surrey. The following year (1933) an additional pair of Wall lizards and some Mediterranean Eyed lizards (Lacerta lepida) were released at the same location. The Eyed lizards were not reportedly seen again.

In 1951, Dr Malcom Smith announced that an un-named young naturalist had rediscovered the colony on an old wall in an adjacent private estate. He described the location as comprising a number of old walls of brick and stone (the exact construction of the castle walls - see photo below) which had not been disturbed for many, many years. He verifies the subspecies, and concluded that the location was ideal habitat.

It is clear that in the 1950s the Farnham colony was thriving despite the collection of lizards by school boys as valued pets, a practice which continued until at least the mid-1970s.

In 1977, Lever reports that the colony was still surviving, but by the year 2000, news of the colony had dwindled to a few unconfirmed reports.

In the late 1980s, it was the fashion for school children to catch and keep the lizards. The last confirmed sighting was in 1989.

There is hope that the colony may have translocated to one of the nearby walled estates.

 
Ecological impact:

Although the castle grounds share a common boundary with Farnham Park, there are no Common lizards in the vicinity. Sand lizards, whilst common on the Farnham heaths, are not present close to the site. The ecological impact of the Wall lizard colony at Farnham is assessed to have been minimal.

 
Habitat:

Based upon the castle walls, and vegetated slopes below the fortifications.

 
Morphology:

Believed to have been the brownbacked form.

 
Location: