Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group (DRAG)

About us

About Us

DRAG aims to raise awareness and understanding of the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, in Devon and the UK, through reptile and amphibian recording, and habitat management work. DRAG aims to bring together people with an interest in reptiles and amphibians.

If you would like to find out more about reptiles and amphibians in Devon, ask for advice or want to get involved with events and surveys, please get in touch!

If you are interested in becoming a DRAG member, send us your details so we can add you to our mailing list for exciting events and activities that are not always advertised on the website.

News

News

Upcoming Talk

Posted on Monday 15th February, 2016
Wed 13 April 2016 7.30pm £3
Cowick Barton pub, 121 Cowick Lane, Exeter
Talk by Dan Eatherley
Bushmaster: hunt for the world's largest viper
 
Dan Eatherley, Exeter-based writer, environmental consultant and former wildlife filmmaker gives a special talk based on his new book published Summer 2015: Bushmaster: Raymond Ditmars and the Hunt for the World’s Largest Viper.
Bushmaster is the story of one man’s obsession with an enigmatic and deadly reptile. Raymond Ditmars (1876-1942), the first curator of reptiles at New York’s world-famous Bronx Zoo, popularised cold-blooded animals as never before. His love for snakes, insects and other misunderstood creatures was conveyed in books, lectures, and pioneering motion pictures. But his expeditions to the South America jungles during the 1930s in search of the legendary bushmaster – the world’s largest viper – really captured the public imagination. In Bushmaster the author follows in Ditmars’s footsteps and attempts to achieve what Ditmars himself failed to do: find a bushmaster in the wild. Eighty years on, will Dan have any more luck? And will a bushmaster find him first?
 
 

Advice Note - Snakes in the Garden

Posted on Tuesday 1st July, 2014

Why we don’t remove snakes from gardens

Neither ARG UK nor The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) Trust www.arc-trust.org offer a ‘snake removal’ service. Indeed, this would run counter to our objectives. There are also practical problems with ‘snake removal’:

Will the snake still be there for removal several hours or even days later when the snake handler arrives?

What is to be done with a removed snake? Wild snakes are protected by law.

Will removing a snake prevent further such animals entering the garden?

We do, however, understand that the appearance of a snake in the garden (or elsewhere) can be disconcerting to those unfamiliar with, or fearful of, snakes. Sometimes understanding a little about snakes can provide reassurance, allowing continued enjoyment of the garden and its wildlife. Alternatively, we offer some advice on making a garden less attractive to snakes.

Identification

Most ‘snakes’ in gardens turn out to be slow-worms or grass snakes, both of which are harmless to people. Help in identifying snakes is provided overleaf.

Non-native snakes are popular pets, and so a snake seen in a residential area, not fitting the descriptions of one of our native species, may be an escaped pet. Legal restrictions ensure that venomous snakes are rarely kept as pets – but expert advice should always be sought to ensure identification.

Understanding a little about ‘snakes’

Slow-worms are the reptile most likely to be found in the garden

Slow-worms are not, in fact, snakes, but legless lizards. They feed on soft bodied invertebrates, especially slugs, so they are helpful to gardeners. Slow-worms do not move far, but a population is likely to occupy an area larger than a single garden. Removing slow-worms from a garden will not necessarily remove a local population.

Grass snakes are the snake most likely to be encountered in gardens and especially in or near garden ponds

They are, however, relatively mobile and in most cases are visitors rather than residents, especially in gardens frequented by people. A grass snake seen in the garden may not return again, although if your garden falls within ‘grass snake territory’, several grass snakes may visit over the course of a year. Hence, removal of a snake cannot prevent future visits by different snakes (although in most cases grass snake visits go unnoticed, anyway).

Grass snakes feed on frogs, toads and newts but they can also catch small fish. Garden owners concerned about this natural predation should be aware that snakes eat relatively few large items per year. A single grass snake is unlikely to eat all of the garden’s frogs.

Still scared of snakes?

For those with an extreme fear of snakes the above information may not help. In the case of phobia alternative options should be considered. Snakes can be discouraged from entering gardens by making them unattractive to them. Such action is extreme and requires removing any items that could provide a place for snakes to shelter in or under. So converting the whole garden to a closely mown lawn or paving and keeping it clear of anything lying on the ground should discourage snakes.

Snakes are a conservation priority

Our snake species and the slow-worm are legally protected from killing or injury (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended).

If you want to find out more about snakes or other reptiles and amphibians in the garden the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust www.arc-trust.org can provide further advice on request.

 

 

 

 


Reptile Training Oppourtunity

Posted on Monday 28th April, 2014

Nicky Green is leading a Reptile Survey Training Day for the East Devon District Council on Friday 9th May, between 10am and 4.30pm

Details:

Spend a day in the company of Nicky Green, experienced ecologist and Chair of the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group, learning about reptile ecology and survey methods. Using the Axe Estuary Wetlands near Seaton and nearby heathland sites, we will carry out a survey and hopefully see some reptiles. This day will be suitable for interested adults and those requiring training in this field.

Cost £20. Booking essential as places are limited. Call 01395 517557 or email Countryside@eastdevon.gov.uk


DRAG great crested newt training courses delivers the goods

Posted on Thursday 23rd May, 2013

Both great crested newt training courses over the past fortnight ran successfully.  The course provided valuable training for surveyors building up experience to gain a survey licence.  We hope that our newly trained surveyors can contribute to our knowledge of the distribution of this beautiful and rare species.  Funds raised by the course go towards DRAG conservation work and awareness raising activities.

Please go to the Photo Gallery for Alex Sam's excellent photos from the training days (photos will be available shortly).

Unfortunately, DRAG does not have the resources or staff to undertake a great crested newt survey project this year.  However, DBRC holds a list of Devon sites with suspected great crested newt records that need confirmation.  If you have a great crested newt surveyor licence and want to undertake surveys of such sites, or ponds that you feel may support this species, please contact DBRC to volunteer your help. All information gathered, including surveyed 'vacant sites', can help to build a better picture of the distirbution of this species and help to target conservation efforts.

 


Sand lizard summary and pics

Posted on Thursday 9th May, 2013

Thanks again to Steve for leading another successful sand lizard survey and walk for DRAG members.  The sun was on our side and all surveyors got excellent views of at least three males in breeding colours, a rotund female and a cryptic coloured yearling less than 5cm in length.  There was a male guarding his female for most of the morning, no doubt 'protecting' her from the male just three metres away.  The pair seemed very relaxed sunbathing amongst some nettles despite being close to a busy footpath. 

Please check out the Gallery for sand lizard photos from our unoffical event photographer Neil Harris.  If you want to hear about walks and events, please email us to be added to the DRAG email list on devonrag@hotmail.com.

Mabel Harris


Events

Events

Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

Bushmaster: hunt for the world's largest viper

Wed 13th April, 2016 - Wed 13th April, 2016

Wed 13 April 2016 7.30pm
Cowick Barton pub, 121 Cowick Lane, Exeter
Talk by Dan Eatherley
Bushmaster: hunt for the world's largest viper
Dan Eatherley, Exeter-based writer, environmental consultant and former wildlife filmmaker gives a special talk based on his new book published Summer 2015: Bushmaster: Raymond Ditmars and the Hunt for the World’s Largest Viper.
Bushmaster is the story of one man’s obsession with an enigmatic and deadly reptile. Raymond Ditmars (1876-1942), the first curator of reptiles at New York’s world-famous Bronx Zoo, popularised cold-blooded animals as never before. His love for snakes, insects and other misunderstood creatures was conveyed in books, lectures, and pioneering motion pictures. But his expeditions to the South America jungles during the 1930s in search of the legendary bushmaster – the world’s largest viper – really captured the public imagination. In Bushmaster the author follows in Ditmars’s footsteps and attempts to achieve what Ditmars himself failed to do: find a bushmaster in the wild. Eighty years on, will Dan have any more luck? And will a bushmaster find him first?
Please note, there will be a small charge for this event (£3) to cover expenses.

AGM and Talks

Sat 7th February, 2015 - Sat 7th February, 2015

Our first event this year will be held on the afternoon of Saturday 7th February 2015, at the Kenn Centre, Kennford http://www.kenncentre.co.uk/

Tea, coffee etc. will be available from 1.40 followed by a brief AGM at 2pm.

This will be followed by a talk form Kim Leaver on the Reptiles & Amphibians of the former Yugoslavia, about the species seen Yugoslavia between 1986 and 1990.

Conrad Barrowclough from the Blackdown Hills Natural futures project will give a short presentation about the project and the amphibian and reptile survey training and volunteer opportunities planned.

Please let us know if there is anything that you would like to discuss at the AGM (devonrag@hotmail.com) and an agenda will be circulated later this week.

Drag Admin


Paignton Zoo Amphibian Ark and Reptile Enclosure

Thu 18th September, 2014 - Thu 18th September, 2014

Upcoming DRAG event at Paignton Zoo

We have arranged an evening at the Zoo with a guided tour of the Amphibian Ark and Reptile Enclosures. This is a great chance to learn about the exciting conservation initiatives that are currently being undertaken at the zoo.

This event will be taking place on Thursday 18th September 2014 from 19.00-21.00.

The suggested donation is£3 per person and this includes entry to the zoo.

To book your place please email Mel Pritchard at devonrag@hotmail.com.

DRAG Admin


Braunton Burrows Guided Walk

Sat 21st June, 2014 - Sat 21st June, 2014

Wildlife expert John Breeds has kindly offered to run a guided walk of the Braunton Burrows world-class Biosphere Reserve to look for reptiles and amphibians.

There may also be the chance to carry out some 'pond dipping' for great crested newts during the walk.

This event will be taking place on Saturday 21st June 2014. Meeting at 9.30am at the Sandy Lane car park and finishing at approximately 1pm.

To book your place please email devonrag@hotmail.com - As ever, first come, first served.

DRAG Admin


Dawlish Sand Lizards

Sat 7th June, 2014

Steve Ayres has agreed to undertake a talk/walk for sand lizards at Dawlish Warren followed by a mini survey of the Dawlish sand lizard population for DRAG members.

Spaces are limited on this occassion, please email devonrag@hotmail.com to book your place - first come first served.

If this proves to be a popular event Steve may be willing to run another similar event later in the year.

Free parking will be provided at the Devon Wildlife Trust site or the site is easily accessible from Dawlish train station.

DRAG Admin


Reptile Training

Fri 9th May, 2014

Nicky Green is leading a Reptile Survey Training Day for the East Devon District Council on Friday 9th May, between 10am and 4.30pm

Details:

Spend a day in the company of Nicky Green, experienced ecologist and Chair of the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group, learning about reptile ecology and survey methods. Using the Axe Estuary Wetlands near Seaton and nearby heathland sites, we will carry out a survey and hopefully see some reptiles. This day will be suitable for interested adults and those requiring training in this field.

Cost £20. Booking essential as places are limited. Call 01395 517557 or email Countryside@eastdevon.gov.uk


An Introduction to Great Crested Newts – 18th/19th May

Sat 18th May, 2013 - Sun 19th May, 2013

Note the April 13/14 and 20/21 courses have been cancelled, due to unseasonal weather, and are being replaced with these new dates. The location may also be subject to change. Please get in touch with Nicky Green for further information.

These courses are run by Nicky Green CEnv MIEEM, Chair of the Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group (DRAG) and has been working with great crested newts since 2003. The course location is the spectacular Braunton Burrows sand dunes SSSI on the picturesque north Devon coast.

Course cost is £100 (exclusive of required overnight accommodation) and all proceeds will be donated to DRAG. To reserve a place email nicky@green-ecology.co.uk. (The same course is also repeated on the 11th/12th May.)

Items covered include: -

· Ecology

· Identification

· GCN distribution – Devon and UK

· Survey planning, timing, interpretation, health & safety

· Survey methods including making a bottle trap

· Habitat Suitability Index

· Legislation

· Survey and mitigation requirements – an LPA perspective

· Introduction to mitigation methods

· Field visits to practice survey methods


An Introduction to Great Crested Newts – 11/12 May 2013

Sat 11th May, 2013 - Sun 12th May, 2013

Note the April 13/14 and 20/21 courses have been cancelled, due to unseasonal weather, and are being replaced with these new dates. The location may also be subject to change. Please get in touch with Nicky Green for further information.

These courses are run by Nicky Green CEnv MIEEM, Chair of the Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group (DRAG) and has been working with great crested newts since 2003. The course location is the spectacular Braunton Burrows sand dunes SSSI on the picturesque north Devon coast.

Course cost is £100 (exclusive of required overnight accommodation) and all proceeds will be donated to DRAG. To reserve a place email nicky@green-ecology.co.uk. (This course is the same as that held on the 18th/19th May.)

Items covered include: -

· Ecology

· Identification

· GCN distribution – Devon and UK

· Survey planning, timing, interpretation, health & safety

· Survey methods including making a bottle trap

· Habitat Suitability Index

· Legislation

· Survey and mitigation requirements – an LPA perspective

· Introduction to mitigation methods

· Field visits to practice survey methods


South West Regional Amphibian and Reptile Groups’ Meeting

Sun 3rd March, 2013

Cornwall College Newquay – Sunday 3rd March 2013

Provisional programme

9.15 to 9.45 Arrival, registration, refreshments

9.45 to 9.50 Welcome and announcements

9.50 to 10.40 Regional round-up (10 minutes per county)

10.40 to 11.00 Short break and refreshments

11.00 to 11.30 Student Invasive Non-Native Group and Nicola Morris: SINNG’s work and biosecurity

11.30 to 12.00 Chris Gleed-Owen: The status of adders in Britain

12.00 to 12.30 Vicky Buller: The Uzungwa Scarp Amphibian Project: hyper-endemic amphibians in a Tanzanian biodiversity hotspot 

12.30 to 1.30 Lunch (and screening of a film by John Butter on Britain’s native reptiles)

1.30 to 2.00 Paul Newman: Adam, Eve and Hissing Sid

2.00 to 2.30 Jon Cranfield: Making your records count

2.30 to 2.45 Short break and refreshments

2.45 to 3.15 Andrew Smart: Sand lizards in Cornwall

3.15 to 3.45 Dave Daversa: Intraseasonal movements and social structure of alpine newts  

3.45 to 4.00 Brief summary discussion, thanks and goodbye

4.00 to 5.00 Refreshments available for anyone wishing to continue informal discussion

Bookings and enquiries

Attendance fee, which also covers lunch and refreshments, is £20 for ARG members and students/unwaged, £35 for others.

Payment must be made in advance, by cheque made out to Cornwall Wildlife Trust, along with a completed booking form.

Forms and cheques to be posted to Mark Nicholson, Barn-Wyn, Marazanvose, Truro, Cornwall, TR4 9DQ.

If you have any enquiries, please email Pete Mycock at newtpete@hotmail.co.uk.

Poster displays, sales etc.

Scientific poster displays with a herpetological theme are welcome. We can also provide facilities for table displays of goods and information. To make arrangements for either of these, please contact Nicola Morris at nicola.morris@cornwall.ac.uk .

Venue details

Cornwall College Newquay, Trenance Gardens, Trenance Park, Newquay, Cornwall, TR7 2LZ

Once you are in Newquay, you should follow signs for Newquay Zoo and Waterworld.

The College is situated behind Newquay Zoo and Waterworld. Drive past the entrance to the zoo and through the car park. The entrance is on the left before you get to the overflow car park. Parking is limited on site but there is free parking available in the main car park at Waterworld and the overflow car park.

Thanks to the organisers and sponsors

This meeting is being jointly organised by CRAG and the Student Invasive Non-Native Group (SINNG) from Cornwall College Newquay.

We are very grateful to the event’s sponsors: Herpetologic Ltd, CGO Ecology Ltd and the College itself.


Braunton Burrows Guided Walk

Sat 14th April, 2012

Saturday 14th April 11am-3pm

Join Braunton Burrows wildlife expert, John Breeds, for a walk around this stunning world-class Biosphere Reserve. We’ll be looking for frogs, toads, newts and reptiles. We will be looking in the ponds and there will be the option to stay on later to look for great crested newts at 9pm (this will be weather dependant).

Meet in Sandy Lane car park SS463/351. For further information call John on 01271 817349 or email john_breeds@hotmail.com. Suggested donation of £3 for adults.


Contact us

Contact Us

If you want to join DRAG and our email group, or have a general query, please contact a member of DRAG admin:

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Please be patient with us, these email addresses are not checked every day!

Or contact Nicky Green, Chair:

1 Pool Mill Cottages
Tottiford
Bovey Tracey
Devon
TQ13 9NS

Tel: 01647 277594 and 07816 512430

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events will be listed here.


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