Reptile Surveys

EMEC Ecology has carried out reptile surveys and reptile mitigation projects throughout Great Britain including Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire as well as further afield such as Shropshire.

There are six native species of reptile in the UK. The most common and widespread of these are adder, common lizard, grass snake and slow worm. Smooth snake and sand lizard also occur within the UK, although these species are less common and have a very localised distribution, mainly in the south of the UK.

Reptile populations in the UK have suffered significant declines due to the loss of suitable habitat from increasing development and agricultural pressures. The threats faced by all reptile species are highlighted by their inclusion on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). This legislation protects against intentionally killing, injuring or taking any wild animal on this list. It also prohibits interference with places used for shelter or protection. The smooth snake and sand lizard are afforded additional protection under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) which prohibits damage or destruction to their breeding sites and resting places.

All reptile species are now considered to be Species of Principal Importance for the Conservation of Biodiversity in England under Section 41 of the NERC Act and are listed as Priority Species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP).

Reptile surveys are costed on a site by site basis, as the scope of these projects ranges from surveys of single building developments to significant translocation of animals and habitat mitigation on large scale proposals, for example for landfill sites, hospitals or housing estates. The amount of time and materials needed will therefore be highly site specific and the costs will change accordingly. EMEC Ecology will be happy to provide a quotation for any reptile survey that will be both efficient and cost effective to the site specifics.

If you require a quotation for a reptile survey please send an email to us at mail@emec-ecology.co.uk including any site plans that you have available (or details and photographs of the site if applicable) with details of the proposed works, along with your contact details. Should you wish to contact us at the office please call 0115 964 4828.

Details are provided below on what a reptile survey involves. This information is also available as a Pdf document. Reptile Survey - Information Sheet.

Reptile Survey Methods

In order to prevent killing or injuring of reptiles, it is recommended that presence/absence surveys are undertaken of habitats considered suitable for supporting reptiles.

A reptile survey is usually carried out by the deployment of artificial refuges, which are comprised of sheets of corrugated tin and squares of bitumastic roofing felt (approximately 0.75m x 0.75m) that are laid in suitable situations throughout the site. The artificial refugia warm up in the early morning, or afternoon sun and provide favourable conditions for reptiles, as they are cold blooded. Grass snakes and slow worms will generally be found under the artificial refugia, whereas lizards will often be recorded on top of the tins / felts.

The artificial refuges are checked on seven occasions to determine presence or presumed absence. Should a population estimate be required, additional surveys may be necessary.

Survey Timings

The optimal time for undertaking reptile surveys is during April, May or September during suitable weather conditions. The weather at the time of the survey should be warm and sunny. It is often possible to carry out surveys during the summer months, however this is sub-optimal and often additional visits (often ten) will be required to give confidence in the results.

Reptile Mitigation

Dependent upon the development proposals and / or the number and species of reptiles found during the reptile survey, a variety of mitigation options are available.

Appropriate Timing of Works

The works can be timed to avoid harm to reptiles. For example, if there are no suitable hibernation features, works can be carried out over winter. Alternatively, works can be carried out on a warm, sunny day during the reptile active period in order to encourage the reptiles to move away from the working area of their own accord.

Maintenance of Habitat

The ideal solution to the presence of reptiles within a development site is to maintain suitable habitat within the new development. This could include a less frequently mown grassland area, a habitat corridor around the perimeter of the site or maintenance of the features preferred by reptiles, such as dry stone walls and compost heaps.

Creation of New Habitat

This could include creation of reptile hibernacula formed from vegetation and log piles or rubble banks. It could also include planting and managing an area specifically for reptiles.

Reptile Translocation

If necessary, the reptiles may need to be moved from the development site to a suitable receptor site. This involves surveys to find a suitable receptor site, followed by a period of trapping and removal from the site to be developed. Reptile proof fencing may be required to prevent the species from returning to the development site. Monitoring of the translocated population will also be required and it is likely that some habitat creation and improvement at the receptor site may be required.