The class of reptiles or crawlers (lat. rept- 'crawled') includes about 10,200 species worldwide. Like birds or amphibians, reptiles are vertebrates and there are 15 native reptile species in Germany. Characteristics of reptiles are mostly dry skin covered with horny scales, lung respiration and the fact that they are warm-blooded and therefore cannot regulate their body temperature themselves, but adjust their body temperature to the ambient temperature. Most reptiles also lay eggs; only a few reptile species give birth to their offspring alive.

Five reptile species live in the Schaalsee Biosphere Reserve: grass snake, common European viper, slow worm, common lizard and sand lizard:

Eine Ringelnatter auf einem Stein. © E. Steffen
Grass snakes are not poisonous and are harmless to humans.

Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)

The grass snake is widespread in the Biosphere Reserve Schaalsee. It prefers to live near water. Typical habitats are siltation zones of standing waters, extensively used pond areas, oxbow lakes and slow-flowing streams and ditches. Swamps and bogs are also colonised. However, individual specimens are often found far away from water bodies.

Common European Viper (Vipera berus)

The common european viper lives very secretively, which is why its population is often underestimated. Its distribution in the Biosphere Reserve is fragmentary. It is not very mobile and is faithful to its habitat. Most of the records are in moorland and in the area of wet biotopes along the former German border strip.

Eine Blindschleiche im UNESCO-Biosphärenreservat Schaalsee. © H. Winter
Despite its apparent resemblance to snakes, the slow worm is a species of lizard.

Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis)

The slow worm, which is usually active at dusk, is widespread in the area, but not abundant anywhere. Records come from semi-open, dry ruderal sites, bog areas, forest edges and often from roadside embankments. The slow worm is highly endangered by road traffic, as it likes to visit roads at dusk to feed on earthworms and slugs, and during the day to sunbathe.

Eine Waldeidechse auf einem Stück Holz. © K. Titho
The common lizard is often found on forest edges or clearings.

Common Lizard (Lacerta vivipara)

This species is viviparous. Compared to other reptile species, it is relatively cold-tolerant and is therefore able to inhabit high altitudes, wetlands and semi-shaded areas. The records in the Biosphere Reserve mostly come from semi-open habitats, bogs and forest paths. However, dry, sandy areas are also inhabited. It is generally widespread, but not particularly abundant.

Eine Zauneidechse klettert einen Stein hinunter. © W. Stürzbecher
The male sand lizards are bright green at mating time.

Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis)

There are only a few records from the Biosphere Reserve.
The sand lizard is bound to warm and dry small habitats with moderate vegetation and sandy subsoil. These include sun-exposed embankments, gravel pit slopes and railway embankments. The species is highly endangered throughout Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.