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

Great Crested Newt training courses

Fri 30th March, 2012

Dear DRAG members

I am running two great crested newt survey courses this year. Both will be based at Decoy allotments, Newton Abbot, with classroom sessions at nearby Forde House (Teignbridge Council Offices).

The courses will cover the ecology of GCNs, survey techniques and conservation and will include field visits to carry out Habitat Suitability Index assessments and demonstrate survey methods including egg search, torching and bottle trapping. Decoy supports all three species of newt and has good numbers of GCNs, so a sighting is guaranteed!!

Both courses will commence at 2pm on a Friday afternoon with a classroom session, followed by a field visit to carry out HSI and egg search and set bottle traps. We will then go to a local pub for dinner and return to the site for torching at 10pm. The next day we will empty the bottle traps and depart.

The first course is on Fri 23rd – Sat 24th March and is exclusively for people who wish to volunteer for our GCN survey programme. The cost is £50 which will be refunded providing the volunteer undertakes a minimum of 15 hours survey work for DRAG.

The second course is Fri 30th – Sat 31st March and is aimed at consultants and others seeking to increase their knowledge of GCNs and work towards a NE licence. The content will be along the same lines as the first but will include legislation and mitigation techniques, though it will not be a major component of the course. The cost of this course is £100 and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to DRAG.

Please get in touch if you want to book on either of these courses.

Cheers

Nicky Green Cenv MIEEM

DRAG Chair

nicky@green-ecology.co.uk


Great Crested Newt training courses

Fri 23rd March, 2012

Dear DRAG members

I am running two great crested newt survey courses this year. Both will be based at Decoy allotments, Newton Abbot, with classroom sessions at nearby Forde House (Teignbridge Council Offices).

The courses will cover the ecology of GCNs, survey techniques and conservation and will include field visits to carry out Habitat Suitability Index assessments and demonstrate survey methods including egg search, torching and bottle trapping. Decoy supports all three species of newt and has good numbers of GCNs, so a sighting is guaranteed!!

Both courses will commence at 2pm on a Friday afternoon with a classroom session, followed by a field visit to carry out HSI and egg search and set bottle traps. We will then go to a local pub for dinner and return to the site for torching at 10pm. The next day we will empty the bottle traps and depart.

The first course is on Fri 23rd – Sat 24th March and is exclusively for people who wish to volunteer for our GCN survey programme. The cost is £50 which will be refunded providing the volunteer undertakes a minimum of 15 hours survey work for DRAG.

The second course is Fri 30th – Sat 31st March and is aimed at consultants and others seeking to increase their knowledge of GCNs and work towards a NE licence. The content will be along the same lines as the first but will include legislation and mitigation techniques, though it will not be a major component of the course. The cost of this course is £100 and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to DRAG.

Please get in touch if you want to book on either of these courses.

Cheers

Nicky Green Cenv MIEEM

DRAG Chair

nicky@green-ecology.co.uk


DRAG AGM at Living Coasts, Torquay

Sat 10th March, 2012

This years AGM will be held at Living Coasts, Torquay on Saturday 10th March. It will start at 1.30pm with a guided tour of the facility followed by the meeting at 3pm.

There will also be a meeting from 12 – 1pm prior to the tour for those interested in volunteering for this years Great Crested Newt survey programme.

All are welcome!

Nicky Green


LEAP, WALK & TALK - REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN TOUR @ PAIGNTON ZOO

Wed 29th February, 2012

6.30 - 9.00 pm (approx.)

Join us on a guided tour of our fascinating Reptile Tropics and Crocodile Swamp and get exclusive behind the scenes access in Amphibian Ark.

Enjoy this rare chance to meet some of the experienced keepers and experts in reptile and amphibian conservation and a special opportunity to ask questions and find out how we care for these animals.

Also enjoy a cheese and wine reception, a presentation by Curator Mike Bungard and Q & A session with the experts.

Tickets: £12.00 non-members / £10.00 members

Limited space available. To book please telephone 0844 474 222

This is a fundraising event and all proceeds will be used to support the conservation charity work at Paignton Zoo.

Many thanks in advance

Samantha Branch nee Mudge

Marketing Manager

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park


South West Regional Conference ARG

Sat 10th December, 2011

DRAG are proud to host this year's South West ARG's annual conference.

Join DRAG for a day of presentations and seminars, plus a quiz, raffle, poster presentations and stalls. The event will be held at the Coaver Club, County Hall, Matford Lane, Exeter, Devon County Council, EX2 4PS from 9.15am-4pm.

Presentations include: -

- Surveying for reptiles using refugia: an assessment of current survey standards, by Vicky Buller

-Troubling Identities: Initial evidence for a successful translocation of the Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis) by Alex Sams

- The Million Ponds project: lessons from the first three years by David Orchard

- Making the adder count in South West England by Jon Cranfield (ARG UK )

- Devon’s great crested newts: efforts to conserve an elusive population by Nicky Green and Julia Clark

- Lunchtime seminar: ‘Raising the profile of reptiles in the South West’ facilitated by Jon Cranfield

£20 per person for ARG members or unwaged, £35 otherwise. £5 off ARG member bookings made before 15th November. Price includes lunch and refreshments. Booking essential.

For a booking form contact Ellie Knott on 01392 274128 (daytimes) or 01392 679222 (evenings) or eknott@devonwildlifetrust.org 2011 to ensure your place.

Scientific posters and vendors welcome, also please arrange in advance with Ellie.


DRAG Meeting at DWT Emsworthy Nature Reserve, near Haytor

Sat 24th September, 2011

We will be holding our last meeting of the season at DWT’s newest Nature Reserve, Emsworthy near Haytor on Dartmoor, on Sat 24th September. Please meet at 10.30 am in the 2nd Saddle Tor car park as you go from Haytor, Grid reference (car park) = SX 748 762. We will be hosted by Andrew Taylor, voluntary warden, and hopefully the previous site owner. Afterwards is an optional social beer/lunch at the fabulous Rugglestone Inn nearby.

Please let me know if you would like to come.
Nicky Green CEnv MIEEM DRAG Chair
Telephone: 01626 834422
Email: nicky@green-ecology.co.uk


DRAG @ Bioblitz at Burrator Arboretum

Sat 13th August, 2011

South West Lakes Trust are holding a 'Bioblitz' day at Burrator to find out what flora and fauna inhabit this wetland paradise. All are welcome to join in with the fun, the more the merrier! DRAG members will be there to help with the reptile and amphibian search and we are hoping to get to see the animals up close. The day's events run from 10am – 4pm. Details to be confirmed...

Timings:

Reptiles survey session: 11.45am – 12.45pm - possible slow worms

Pond dipping session: 1.30pm – 2.30pm or 3pm – 4pm (times to be confirmed) - possible newts, frogs and toads.

Bat session: 8pm

For more info go to: http://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/events/1748


Ideford Common Reptile Ramble 9:30-11am

Sun 5th June, 2011

Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group Walk. Join an informal ramble across the heath to look for snakes and lizards, plus newts and toads. Teignbridge Countryside Ranger, Neil Harris, will introduce us to this special heathland site with spectacular views across to Dartmoor.

Outdoor wear and sensible walking shoes/boots and long trousers recommended as walking through knee-high vegetation over 'uneven' terrain.

Free event. Limited numbers, please book in advance. For further information contact devonrag@hotmail.com or call 01626 335412.


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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