Slithering into summer: REC ecologists undertake reptile survey


nathan reptile


REC’s ecologists have been busy undertaking a reptile survey over the last month at a site near Chesterfield in Derbyshire proposed for residential development. No reptiles have been found thus far, however we have found some common toads (Bufo bufo). Common toads are a priority species under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 which means that they need to be considered during planning applications. This means that they are considered the same as hedgehogs (see our hedgehogs’ highway to recover blog here) as they have also suffered from serious population declines in recent years. Common toads can grow up to 13cm long, weigh 80g and live up to 4 years .

The reptile survey involves putting out artificial refugia (corrugated metal sheets or roofing felts) in suitable habitats and visiting them at least seven times to check whether any reptiles are underneath. We also check underneath natural refugia (which includes logs etc.) and have a glance around for any as we walk through the site. The reptiles obtain heat from the mats which allows them to be active. Surveys start from when the frost starts to thaw (generally March) until it freezes over again (so until October normally), but this is very weather dependent. Reptiles like to use a variety of habitats, especially if they are in a mosaic type layout across a site. They generally like grassland, heathland, scrub, patches of bare ground (for basking), woodland and hedgerows, sand dunes, allotments etc. so they are often a consideration for us during our surveys. Sometimes a reptile survey is required to determine if reptiles are present and how many there are, and then if we find reptiles, a translocation is often used to safely remove them. However, sometimes we may recommend precautionary working methods if we think the potential for them to be on site is negligible or quite low.  For more information about reptile and other ecology surveys, please contact our REC ecologists on 0845 676 9303 or email