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Reptiles are protected by UK wildlife law. Smooth snake and sand lizard are also European Protected species.

The Adder or Common European Viper (Vipera berus) is the UK’s only venomous reptile species

Many projects need surveys in order to establish if reptiles are present or absent. Surveys are triggered if a development site:

  • has suitable reptile habitat (e.g. grassland, gardens, scrub, brownfield sites, wetlands, hedgerows)
  • will alter the water levels of the site or surrounding area
  • will break apart suitable reptile habitat
  • has historical records of reptile presence

Survey methods include searching for basking animals on banks, piles of wood and woodland edges; laying out artificial refugia like corrugated iron sheets, carpet tiles or roofing felt bedded down well into the vegetation. Impacts a development could have on reptiles if no mitigation measures were planned include:

  • Losing links between habitats
  • Separating summer or hibernation sites
  • Reduction in habitat quality
  • Risk of fire
  • Effect of increased litter

If reptiles are found, there are several mitigation measures that will usually allow your development to progress, including:

  • Changing the project design and not developing the areas used by reptiles
  • Displacing reptiles from sensitive areas by changing the vegetation
  • Changing the timing of works
  • Moving the reptiles (translocating) to another area that has been specially prepared
  • maintaining networks across the site (for large schemes)

When is the right time to carry out a reptile survey?

Exact timings vary, depending on the survey type, where you live and what the weather is like at the time. We recommend checking with us first to avoid any unnecessary delays to your project. The following timings provide a general guide.

Green = optimal | Yellow = suboptimal | White = unsuitable

A few examples of reptile projects we have successfully delivered for our clients

Adder surveys,
Presence / absence surveys,
Presence / absence surveys,
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