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National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme – NARRS Reptile Surveys.

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Presentation on theme: "National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme – NARRS Reptile Surveys."— Presentation transcript:

1 National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme – NARRS Reptile Surveys

2 How to survey for reptiles Reptiles warm up by basking or lying under warm objects Reptile survey should (ideally) combine two techniques: Visual search Artificial refugia All species can be found using visual search But artificial refugia greatly increase chances of detection (for some species)

3 How to survey for reptiles Refugia important surveying some than others: Slow-worms, smooth snakes – surveys should involve refugia (rarely seen otherwise) Adders, grass snakes – refugia useful (but can be found by visual search) Common lizards, sand lizards – refugia can be useful (but must use visual search as well – otherwise miss lots) Always search when walking between refugia Practice really does help!

4 When to survey for reptiles – best time of year Best time is the spring (especially April) Reptiles most active and visible Getting into breeding condition Cool weather – need to bask for longer at this time of year As the spring becomes summer, survey only possible in short periods As cooler autumn arrives - survey conditions improve again

5 When to survey for reptiles – best time of year Bad Best Good Variable/ Poor

6 When to survey for reptiles – best time of year Sand lizard sightings per month Definite spring peak

7 When to survey for reptiles – best time of day Early spring - middle hours of the day (c.11am- 3pm) Late spring – mid morning (c.9-11am) and late afternoon (c.4-6pm) Summer – short periods in morning (c.7-9am) and evening (6-8pm); hot weather can produce totally negative results Autumn similar to spring timings However, time of day varies with weather too

8 When to survey for reptiles – best weather conditions No clear-cut way of defining right/wrong weather Strong wind/heavy rain not good Any other conditions can be good (depending on the time of year & time of day) Early spring/late autumn – sunny or partial cloud Air temperature 10-20°C Late spring/early autumn – sun/cloud and bright overcast forces reptiles to bask longer Sunshine after rain is ideal First sunshine after dull overcast weather Extended periods of hot dry weather - not good

9 Fff Weather vs time of day vs season… Mar Apr May Jun July Aug SeptOct

10 Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Walk slowly, scanning sunny sides of vegetation Keep sun behind you or to your side Tune your eye in to vegetation interfaces Often places where reptiles bask along edges Seldom far from dense cover for protection

11 Walk slowly, scanning the ground as you go Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles

12 Look for sheltered spots that act as suntraps

13 Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Junction between vegetation types/heights

14 Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Varied height structure – look in short patches

15 Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Edge of gorse scrub, meeting rough grass

16 Visual search - where and how to spot reptiles Moss or lichen patches among taller vegetation

17 Artificial refugia Corrugated metal – best Roofing material/felt – good Rubber car mats, plastic sheeting, carpet – ok Size approx half a square metre (70 x 70cm) Choose sunny locations away from public view and livestock Press down close to the ground Deep cover or edge of dense vegetation Not on bare ground/sparse cover Lift and replace refugia carefully taking care not to squash retreating animals Use a stick or adder-proof glove if necessary to ensure safety

18 Artificial refugia Corrugated metal sheets (‘tins’) – cut to size

19 Artificial refugia Old rusty tins often more effective

20 Artificial refugia Corrugated bitumen-based roofing material (onduline)

21 Artificial refugia Roofing felt

22 Artificial refugia Roofing slate

23 Pre-existing objects acting as refugia Wooden board

24 Pre-existing objects acting as refugia Discarded wheels, tyres, scrap etc.

25 Pre-existing objects acting as refugia Discarded clothing, plastic, rubber etc.

26 NARRS Preliminary square assessment Consult an Ordnance Survey map (Landranger map 1:50,000 or Explorer 1:25,000 scale) Or an online map of your square (www.streetmap.co.uk: enter 4-fig grid ref e.g. SK1294 and zoom out once) Aerial photo useful (www.multimap.com: needs 6-fig grid reference e.g. SK and click aerial button) Identify key areas most likely to support reptiles

27 Preliminary square assessment Looking up your square on

28 Preliminary square assessment Looking at aerial photo on

29 Landowner permissions Always seek permission from landowners/ tenants before entering private land Always seek permissions to survey, whether public or private land As a courtesy, even seek permission to survey on Open Access land See the guidance at

30 Further square assessment If permission is not granted for enough (key) areas, request another square Plan a walking route that takes in all key areas (representing best habitat, and surveyable in 2-3 hrs) Walk your square Lay artificial refugia (if suitable places, safe, permitted by landowners)

31 Survey visits Between March-June, ideally April-May: Choose suitable conditions (time of day, weather) Cover key areas in a survey lasting no more than 3 hours Visual search and check refugia Fill in your survey form (visit details, survey effort, reptiles seen – use ID Guide if needed) Try to make four visits (ideally, the fourth visit should be at least 4 weeks after refugia were laid) More visits if you like…

32 Completion/data submission As soon as possible after survey visits: Submit your results online at or send your survey form to the ARC Remove refugia Feedback to landowners if interested

33 Licensing A licence is required to survey sand lizards or smooth snakes You can be covered by the ARC’s survey licence, subject to training or experience ask your trainer to pass your details to ARC if you think you will encounter protected reptiles during your surveys!

34 Good luck with your survey!

35 Photographs Photographs used in this presentation are by Lee Brady, Julia Carey, Jon Cranfield, Terry Elborn, Chris Gleed-Owen, Fred Holmes, Paul Stevens and John Wilkinson Copyright of all photographs remains with the photographers and ARC These photographs should not be used for purposes other than NARRS training without the permission of the photographers.


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