The reptiles of the UK include snakes, lizards and marine turtles. The UK boasts 3 native species of snake and 3 native species of lizard. The common terrestrial species include the adder (Vipera berus), grass snake (Natrix natrix), slow worm (Anguis fragilis) and common lizard (Zootoca viviparous). The sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) and the smooth snake (cornella austriaca) are both rare and restricted to certain habitats and therefore receive the greatest legal protection. In summary, reptiles are ectothermic (adjusting their internal temperature using the environment) and as such, they are diurnal (active by day) and often found basking in open pockets of vegetation in the sun. Reptiles will brumate (similar to hibernating) during the winter and re-emerge to mate in March to April. Some reptiles such as adders, common lizards give live birth, while others like and grass snake and smooth snake will lay eggs.
The main focus species of reptile surveys tend to concentrate on common terrestrial species such as adders, grass snakes, slow worms and common lizards. Reptile surveys are seasonally constrained and should be conducted between March and October (weather dependant) but the peak months are April, May and October. At least 7 surveys should be carried out during appropriate times of year and during suitable weather conditions to establish presence / likely absence of reptiles. If more detailed population studies are required this may take up to 20 surveys over the course of a season. There are several types of reptile survey that should be used in combination to provide the best overall outcome, these include:
If you require any more information of the reptile surveys we provide, contact us and we will be happy to help.
MITIGATION & LICENSING
Planning authorites may require surveys and mitigation plans before making a planning decision, or reptile mitigation may be a planning condition. If reptiles are found on land that is to be developed, mitigation measures will need to be incorporated prior to any work commencing to avoid breaking the law. The time needed for adequated mitigation should not be underestimated. In addition, it is likely that nearby habitats will require enhancement or new habitat will need to be created to compensate for habitat lost through the development. Translocating reptiles is seasonal, and mitigation work can only be carried out in suitabe weather conditions. Licences are not required for translocating the 4 common reptile species, however smooth snakes and sand lizards do.
LAW & LEGISLATION
The UK's reptiles are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994, making it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure, sell or trade the 4 common reptile species. Smooth snakes and sand lizards are afforded additional protection making it illegal to capture, handle or disturb these animals or to damage, destroy or disturb their places of shelter such as their breeding, resting and hibernating sites.