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Smooth or Grass Snake

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steveb View Drop Down
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    Posted: 18 Jul 2004 at 5:27pm

Hi

We've just returned from holiday in Dorset and whilst there we spent a day in the New Forest. I had heard that there were snakes in that region and so decided to see if I could spot one. I came acrooss a small piece of corrugated iron in the heather and sure enough there was a snake underneath it. The snake didnt seem too upset about being disturbed and after tasting the air with it's tounge slowly moved away. I was very suprised as I didnt think that I would actually see one (I have never seen a snake in the wild in this country before now).

When I replaced he corrugated iron I noticed that someone has sprayed the number 6 on it. It then dawned on me that the metal could have been put there deliberately to attract snakes as part of a survey perhaps (hope I haven't messed things up)!

On returning home I decided to check what sort of snake it was but I can't make my mind up if it is a Smooth or Grass Snake (should have taken my camera). Does anyone have any idea as to the likelyhood? It was about 30 inches long, slender and a beautiful olive green colour with what looked like black bars across its body. As I said it did not seem too upset and went on it's way almost with an air of indifference!

 

Steve

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2004 at 6:15pm

Hi Steve,

That tin was put out for a reason, that is how we survey for reptiles, tins carpet tiles or roofing felt are the usual.

Your sighting was of a grass snake, the olive green and barring are give aways, check out these pages

http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/grass_snake.htm

http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/smooth_snake.htm

Your unlikely to have caused any problems for the surveyor, unless they came round within an hour of your visit, as snakes will very often return back to their tins very quickly.

Take care in areas where there are smooth snakes though as technically you could be breaking the law by lifting a survey tin and disturbing the snake. It is always possible that adders are sat close to tins and not directly under them so this can be risky if your not sure what you are doing.

anyone know who's tins they are by the way??? :0)

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j gaughan View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote j gaughan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2004 at 8:11pm
Good advice Gemma

It sounds like one of ours; Chris may clarify further.

There is a low-key survey underway in the Southern Counties to fill in some of the gaps in this elusive species diistribution; and not before time in the wake of the BHS one, twenty-odd years ago

John

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steveb View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote steveb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2004 at 8:40pm

Thanks for the info and advice.

Do you think there might be a chance of seeing snakes or Slow Worms close to where I live near Sherwood Forest? Are there any reported sightings or known areas arond here where reptiles are found? It might be worth leaving some tin around perhaps!

 

Steve

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jul 2004 at 9:46am

Hi Steve,

A good way to get a start in reptile survey is to get in touch with your local ARG (amphibian and reptile group), a list of ARG's can be found at:

http://froglife.hostwith.me.uk/HGBI/ARGs.htm

If you have a local active ARG they might well be able to give you some idea of where to start from resent and historical sightings.

Permission has to be sought from landowners before placing survey tins on their land and factors like public disturbance need to be taken into account. Being involved with an ARG will help you co-ordinate such projects and help you build your experience.

In all I would say most reptiles are under recorded and you would be in with a good chance of generating new and very useful data in your area.

Slow-worms are very elusive but not uncommon and they are often the first species to use refugia such as tin and roofing felt, there is a very good chance of finding these locally.

Adder and grass snake can often be detected by simple visual survey, it takes time though to become efficient at this as hours can be spent looking without seeing a thing, though as you become experienced you will find that you become quite proficient at looking in the 'right' places at the 'right' time!

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steveb View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote steveb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jul 2004 at 12:17pm

Hi Gemma

Thanks again for the advice. I'll keep you posted should I manage to spot anything.

Steve

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