Reptile populations in the UK have suffered significant declines due to the loss of suitable habitat from increasing development and agricultural pressures. The smooth snake and sand lizard are protected under EU law, which prohibits damage or destruction to their breeding sites and resting places. In addition UK law protects adder, grass snake, common lizard and slow-worm.
Activities that are likely to affect reptiles include any with potential to alter the water levels of the site or surrounding area and any which would break apart suitable habitat for reptiles.
The four more widespread species, comprising slow-worm, common lizard, adder and grass snake, are encountered fairly frequently on development sites and often exploit brownfield habitats which have been left to re-colonise with vegetation.
ECOSA have extensive experience in surveying for reptiles to assess for presence, population status and to identify key areas of habitat. We are licensed to undertake smooth snake and sand lizard surveys. Using our survey data to devise appropriate mitigation strategies, we have successfully implemented mitigation works, which include carrying out numerous large-scale exclusion and translocation projects. Mitigation works include the creation, maintenance and management of reptile habitat.
While some basking animals may be found on banks, piles of wood and edges of woodland, laying out artificial refugia (typically squares of roofing felt) produces more reliable data, particularly for slow-worms and smooth snakes. Population size surveys may require a higher number of site visits over a period of time.
Optimal survey periods are during April and May, and during September.