Heaths are one of the rarest habitats on the planet. The UK has 20 per cent of Europe’s remaining lowland heathland and this vital habitat can be home to rare species such as smooth snake and sand lizard.

The CRT’s Green Farm in Surrey has two precious parcels of lowland heathland, which are now part of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC)'s National Lottery funded Snakes in the Heather (SiTH) project and the National Reptile Survey Programme.

In January, CRT staff met with ARC and laid artificial cover objects (ACOs) on the farm's heathland. These are sheets of tin, also known as refugia, which are a key tool in reptile surveying. They provide a solar-heated refuge for reptiles, whilst offering protection from avian predators, and as reptiles tend to gather underneath them it can make detecting them easier.

Vince Lea explained: “The primary objectives of this collaboration are to better understand what UK reptile species are already established at Green Farm and in the context of the wider landscape of the Weald. We know for sure there are three reptile species on the site - adder, slow worm and common lizard - and it is very likely that grass snakes are around too, as one of the country's most widespread species.

It is very exciting to think that smooth snake or sand lizard could occur and to get that information would certainly help direct future habitat management. Both of those rarer species occur within a few miles of Green Farm and the habitat is potentially suitable, so if we don’t find them we could consider an introduction programme. This partnership is another example of CRT forging relationships with fellow Conservation NGOs and a great opportunity for CRT and ARC volunteers alike”.

Pictured above left to right: CRT volunteers Kevin Young and Brian Lavers, CRT Head of Wildlife Monitoring Dr. Vince Lea, Jack Harper, ARC Weald Field Officer and Volunteer Coordinator and Howard Inns, ARC Trustee and Vice Chair. Photo taken by Nick Dobbs, CRT Friendship Development Manager and ARC volunteer licensed reptile surveyor.


If you are in the Dorset area and would like to find out more about the UK's reptiles, come along to Bere Marsh Farm on 12 April to learn about these fascinating and elusive creatures with the CRT’s reptile expert, Nick Dobbs.   

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