Reptile Surveys

All reptiles in the UK are protected, but some receive stronger protection than others. The rarest species, smooth snake and sand lizard receive full protection and it is an offence to kill, disturb or capture them or damage the habitats in which they are found. The commoner species, adder, grass snake, slow worm, and common lizard are legally protected from injury or killing but the habitats in which they live are not protected.

In the UK, smooth snake are only found in southern England while sand lizard are restricted to dry lowland heathland in the southern England and a number of large coastal sand dune sites in western England and Wales. A small self-sustaining introduced population is present on Coll in the Inner Hebrides. The commoner species are widely distributed across mainland Great Britain, though large areas of lowland Britain have lost their reptile populations. Grass snake are mainly found in England and Wales though recently discovered populations in south-west Scotland may also be native.

Reptiles are found in a range of habitats, with the most favoured being heathland, sand dunes, open woodland, sea cliffs, semi-natural grassland, moorland and in the case of grass snakes, wetland. If your site has any of these habitats present and it lies within the current range of reptiles, then it is possible that surveys may be required.

Survey methods range from simple visual surveys which take advantage of the necessity of reptiles to warm their blood (walk slowly and quietly through suitable habitat examining potential basking sites with binoculars) through to more resource intensive refuge based methods. The latter consist of placing small sheets of corrugated iron, carpet tile or roofing felt in areas of suitable habitat, and then checking these periodically for reptiles which use them for shelter and raising their body temperature.

Reuben has many years of experience surveying for reptiles and is able to advise on whether a reptile survey is required and if so what would be the most appropriate survey approach.