British Reptiles

 Adder, Vipera Berus Adder, Vipera Berus
Fauna Forest Ecology Ltd can undertake reptile surveys for all native British reptiles, including the smooth snake and sand lizard. Our team of experienced herpetologists have worked with reptiles for over 15 years. As part of your preliminary ecological appraisal, we can offer reptile surveys, mitigation and compensation advice for a development licence.
It is illegal to injure or kill any of Britain's 6 reptile species. All British reptiles are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981(as amended). Fauna Forest ecology Ltd hold Natural England Licences to survey the smooth snake and sand lizard, which are European Protected Species and are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

Local authorities, public bodies and private homeowners have a legal obligation to consider reptiles while planning any form of development that could potentially disturb, injure of kill British reptiles. For Britain's two European protected reptile species: the smooth snake and sand lizard, a European Protected Species Licence may be required in order to carry out such work. Failure to comply with the law can potentially result in a custodial sentence or a £5,000 fine.

British Reptiles and their Ecology

Adder, Vipera berus

The adder is Britain's only venomous snake. This shy, elusive viper is usually found in heathland across England, Scotland and Wales. Adders are sexually dichromatic and dimorphic. Males are smaller than females and can be identified by the dark edging of the super labials and rostral scale. The majority of male adders are marked with a prominent dorsal zig-zag, in comparison to the female's "wobbly" dorsal line. Some suggest the sex can be determined by colour. While this can be the case during spring when the males slough their skin turning gun-metal grey, and females remain a rusty brown colour, this means of identification is not accurate. Male adders are a dull olive and sometimes brown colour during summer, autumn and also post-hibernation.

Despite having a geographical distribution across much of the UK (except Ireland), the adder's habitat is both limited and locally specific, therefore spotting one can be challenging without local knowledge. Numbers in the New Forest and Cannock Chase are still relatively good. Mild cloudy days during spring, summer and Autumn give you the best chance of spotting adder. They favour mossy patches between heather and gorse.

Adders feed on small mammals, lizards and birds. They are particularly susceptible to habitat management and disturbance. Adders breed biannual - mating takes place in April and the females usually give birth in August/September. Depending on weather temperature, hibernation usually begins in October and ends late February, early March.

Sand lizard, Lacerta agilis

Sand lizards are typically brown and grey in colour. Males develop green flanks as they mature. This species of lizard is extremely rare in the UK. Naturally, they now only occur in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey and Merseyside. Sand lizards have been reintroduced to West Sussex, Devon, Cornwall and North Wales as part of a successful captive breeding programme. The Isle of Coll in Scotland is also home to a small population of sand lizards.

The sand lizard is the UKs only egg-laying lizard. Its habitat is sandy heathland and coastal dune systems. Small invertebrates, fruit and flower heads form a large proportion of the sand lizard's diet. Mating takes place in spring and eggs are buried in sand, exposed to the sun for incubation during May/June. Eggs hatch between August and October, soon before hibernation.

Sand lizards (along with smooth snakes) receive further protection that the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) - they are a European Protected Species. A licence is required by an experienced ecological consultant to survey and disturb. Fauna Forest Ecology Ltd are licenced to survey and handle the sand lizard and are able to assist with development that might potentially impact this rare UK lizard species.

Grass Snake, Natrix natrix

The grass snake is Britain's largest reptile. It is common throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Females grow considerably larger than males and have a broad head in comparison. Characteristically, they are known for the green body and yellow neck collar. Grass snakes are strong swimmers; their habitat is typically associated with wetlands, canals and rivers. A large proportion of the grass snake's diet is amphibians, although fish are regularly preyed on.

During early spring, males bask for a significant amount of time during the day, perhaps to increase sperm production. Eggs are deposited in mounds of soil, compost and rotting vegetation - it's not uncommon to find grass snakes near allotments.

When under threat, grass snakes rarely bite but do produce a strong musk, a smell that is less than desirable. If this defence mechanism does not work, the grass snake is a master at "playing dead".

Common Lizard, Zootoca vivipara

Common lizards are widely distributed across the UK. Their habitat varies significantly. Heathland,, railway lines, hedgerows, woodland, glades, overgrown gardens and public parks are often occupied by this species. Males are usually marked with orange and yellow spots on their underside, whereas the female's underside is a typically a patternless shade of orange, grey or green.

Common lizards feed on invertebrates. Much of their diet consists of small flies, crickets and other insects. During mating, the male grabs the female by the head; an act that may look aggressive when observed. Mating takes place in April/May and females produce between 3 and 11 live young in July.

Young common lizards are around 4cm long and notably darker than their parents.

Smooth Snake, Coronella austriaca

Smooth snakes are restricted to heathlands in West Sussex, Surrey, Dorset and Hampshire. This grey/brown snake with smooth scales is elusive and is often found beneath log piles, purpose-placed refuge and dense vegetation.

The smooth snake's diet consists of small mammals, lizards and other snakes (including other smooth snakes). Breeding takes place during spring, and like other British snakes, the young are born during late summer. Smooth snakes give birth to live young.

Smooth snakes (along with sand lizards) receive further protection that the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) - they are a European Protected Species. A licence is required by an experienced ecological consultant to survey and disturb. Fauna Forest Ecology Ltd are licenced to survey and handle the smooth snakes and are able to assist with development that might potentially impact this rare UK snake species.

Slow Worm, Anguis fragilis

The slow worm is a legless lizard and to many, resembles a snake. Slow worms are widespread across England, wales and Scotland. They are found in a mixture of habitat: woodland, motorway embankments, railway lines, overgrown gardens, heathland and open agricultural farmland are all but a few typical varieties of habitat. Slow worms eat small invertebrates, slugs, spiders, snails and other woodland and garden "mini beasts".

Mating takes place in spring and the young are born between August and September. Like all other British reptiles, slow worms hibernate during the cooler winter months and emerge between late February and early March.
Fauna Forest Ecology Ltd Office Number - 07917 76 54 6401782 32 68 59 | Fauna Forest Ecology Ltd Mobile Number - 07917 76 54 6407917 76 54 64 | © 2020 Fauna Forest Ecology Ltd. Registered company number in England: 10184201