Twelve gifts of Christmas

Monitoring covers for reptiles

Slow worms are legless lizards which are often mistaken for small snakes. Along with Grass Snake and Common Lizard, we know they are present on Bere Marsh Farm but would like to introduce a structured programme of monitoring. 

Slow worms, despite their name, are not actually worms; they are legless lizards. We know that some have made their home at Bere Marsh Farm, but need to get a better understanding of population size and longer term trends.  

What the CRT will do

The CRT would like to place 20 large reptile refuges also known as artificial cover objects (ACOs) on Bere Marsh Farm. These are sheets of corrugated tin and a proven method for reptile surveying. They provide safe easy to survey refuges for reptiles to thermoregulate whilst affording protection from predators. Known as hibernacula, The CRT already provides over-wintering micro-habitats across Bere Marsh Farm using dead wood and cuttings. 

The results

While slow worms might not be as well-known as some other animals on a farm, they do play a vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Slow worms primarily feed on insects, slugs, and worms. These invertebrates can be pests in agricultural settings, damaging crops and reduce yields. Slow worms naturally help keep the populations of these pests in check, potentially reducing the need for chemical pesticides.

Slow worms also help with soil aeration and nutrient cycling. As they burrow through the soil, they create channels that improve soil structure and allow better water infiltration. Their presence can contribute to healthier soil, which is essential for plant growth.

Slow worms are a part of the farm's biodiversity. Biodiverse ecosystems are more resilient to environmental changes and can support a wider range of species. Slow worms themselves provide food for larger predators, such as birds and mammals, contributing to the overall food web on the farm.

The presence of slow worms can indicate the health of the local ecosystem. If slow worms are thriving on a farm, it may suggest that the farm has a healthy environment with suitable habitat and minimal chemical contamination.


How you can help

Each artificial cover object will cost approximately £15 and we will need 20. The tin sheets are a vital component for reptile surveying as they make detecting that much easier as many species love nothing better than basking under or on them, absorbing the heat they generate.


Your donation is being made to the CRT's Twelve Gifts of Christmas fund. The CRT will endeavour to put your donation towards the appeal you select, but the funds will be prioritised according to the greatest need. The CRT will try to ensure that all the items within the 12 appeals are purchased, but if an appeal's target is not met or exceeded the funds could be diverted to another appeal to achieve the greatest benefit for wildlife and people on our farms.

12 Gifts of Christmas

Wildlife blog: Positive signs for Green Farm habitat