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Species motel

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: General
Forum Name: Wildlife Gardening
Forum Description: For discussion about wildlife (especially amphibian and reptile) gardening
Printed Date: 05 Jun 2020 at 7:09am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 -

Topic: Species motel
Posted By: Singingjay
Subject: Species motel
Date Posted: 30 Jun 2014 at 10:53pm
I have a north London allotment, and on moving a scruffy old bit of mdf left there by a previous tenant, I was delighted to find toads, a slow worm and a common newt in residence. while they are very welcome to stay there, the mdf will not last for ever. what should I do to provide good habitats for all these species?  I'm thinking of creating a pond (advice on that gratefully received, too)  but would also like to create secure hibernation/basking sites for all the species I've found so far. The site is heavy clay, and quite waterlogged in winter.  Thanks


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 01 Jul 2014 at 12:10pm

I'm on Essex clay and have similar animals in the garden.

Digging a pond is a great idea and the animals will benefit. It's an entire subject in itself but common newts will benefit from just about any type and size of pond you choose. Perhaps best to decide what sort of pond appeals or fits the budget and more specific advice could be given.

The mdf could be replaced by some corrugated tin, or bitumen roofing felt. We use this to survey for the animals and they last a good time. This will give you a place where you can look to see animals on a regular basis.

An artificial hibernaculum would be a great benefit on the clay. Essentially it would have a center made-up from old building rubble or hardcore. This is then capped with soil (spoils from the pond makes sense). You can leave some of the rubble exposed to provide a way in, or wait and small mammals will form tunnels to the central core. 

I top off my hibernation banks in the garden with logs and a mixture of brambles and willow cuttings to give plenty of hiding places. I have two that I built. One out in the open sun for reptiles, another in the shade which benefits amphibians.

Putting in a compost heap will benefit the slow worms and grass snakes if they are about. (and be of great benefit to you for the allotment).

In all the key thing is to avoid tidiness by letting some areas overgrow with weeds where you can, leave things like plant pots lying about and even old tyres, as they all can provide homes for animals.

My garden is split between regimented rows of veggies and a very wild wildlife garden, often very overgrown with weeds, it has the pond, hibernation banks and the compost heap tucked out of site. I'm in the process of renovating the pond and planning on using a clay lining which I'll post up some info on in the next month or so.

Hope that gives a start, I'm sure others will add information to my brief answer.

Posted By: Singingjay
Date Posted: 07 Aug 2014 at 6:30pm
Thanks for this, it's very helpful.  I forgot to check this site for ages - sorry for the slowness of response.  No problems with keeping my allotment scruffy; great to have a really good excuse!  I'll build some structures.

Thanks again


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