Warwickshire Amphibian & Reptile Team

About Us

We are dedicated to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Warwickshire. We aim to encourage people to learn about, protect and conserve these animals and their habitats. Our activities include recording the distribution and population size of amphibians and reptiles throughout Warwickshire. Conservation work such as pond restoration, workshops and training days, talks and visits, providing advice on pond and habitat conservation and identifying threats to local habitats.

WART works in partnership with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the Warwickshire Biological Recording Centre (WBRC) and Amphibian & Reptile Groups UK (ARG UK). Data is collected throughout the county of the numbers of amphibians and reptiles, recording numbers, species, location etc. This information is then submitted to the WBRC after validation where you can request a data search.

A programme of events is organised for members on herpetological issues, including workshops, informative talks, and also survey and habitat management work.

The WART Newsletter is now only available electronically.

What Can You Do To Help? 

If you know of any sites where you have seen any species of amphibians or reptiles then please let us know. Up to date records are always needed to enable us to map the herpetofauna in Warwickshire. Please submit any records to recordswart@gmail.com or use the form on the "Record your Sightings" tab above.

Identification of the different species is critical in mapping a true record of species distribution and population density.

If you would like to enrol as a member of the Warwickshire Amphibian & Reptile Team, please contact Jan Clemons at janclemons2015@gmail.com.

More Information about some of Warwickshire's Amphibians and Reptiles:

The Adder

Local status and distribution
The Adder is rare in Warwickshire and only occurs at a few known sites in the county making up only 5% of the total reptile records. In Victorian times the Adder was described as not abundant in the county, being absent from alluvial areas and mainly found in sandy or stony places.
The Adder is a small, stout snake with a distinctive continuous zigzag on the back. It has a well defined head compared to the grass snake and rarely grows longer than 65cm (2 feet). Body colour is variable, males are usually grey or buff with a black zigzag whereas females are brown with a dark brown zigzag. The Adder is the only native snake having elliptical, as opposed to round pupils. Occasionally black (melanistic) Adders are found but none have been reported in Warwickshire.
The Adder is typically found in heathland and moorland but in Warwickshire it is associated with railway embankments, rough grassland and scrub. Male snakes are the first to come out of hibernation, females emerging a couple of weeks later. Mating takes place in April and early May and is often preceded by a ritualistic behaviour pattern by the males, who dance with each other in a trial of strength to gain access to the female who is often in the near vicinity. Female Adders do not breed every year because they need at least one intervening year to feed up and regain breeding condition. Once pregnant they cease to feed for the 3 to 4 month gestation period whilst the embryos develop inside the body. Six to twenty young are born alive, usually by the beginning of September.
The Adder is Britain's only venomous snake and uses venom for catching prey, usually small mammals and lizards. They are very timid animals and usually move away quickly when disturbed, but will bite in defence if trodden upon or handled. If bitten, medical assistance should be sought, but statistically one stands more chance of dying from a bee or wasp sting than an Adder bite.
Protection status
Some protection under the Berne Convention as to their exploitation.
Protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Schedule 5. from trade, injury and killing.

The Common or Viviparous Lizard

Local status and distribution
The Common lizard has a limited distribution in Warwickshire and is absent from many parts of the county. However it is Warwickshire's second most common reptile accounting for 26% of the total reptile records. The Common lizard was not abundant in Victorian times but the existence of several colonies at the foot of Edgehill, a common near Claverdon and the stone walls around the Priory in Warwick had been reported. It is interesting to note that in the 1901 Victoria County History of Warwickshire it is stated that the Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) had been observed at two places on the Ridgeway near Alcester and that it was rare at these localities. Whether these were genuine sightings or that Common lizards were mistaken for Sand lizards cannot be confirmed but there are no later reports of Sand lizards for the county.
Common lizards can be mistaken for newts but are more alert and quick moving if disturbed. They also have a dry scaly skin. Common lizards can reach a length of 18cm (7 inches) but this is rare and most are much smaller. They are variable in colour ranging from brown or yellow-brown to almost green. These green Common lizards should not be confused with Sand lizards. Male Common lizards often have darker backs with a broken striped pattern and a variable number of pale dots edged with black called ocelli. They have yellow or orange bellies which are spotted. with black markings. The female is paler, with a few scattered ocelli and some females have a continuous stripe along the centre of the back. The belly is pale yellow, usually lacking spots. The most reliable method for distinguishing between the sexes is to look for the swelling at the base of the tail in the male. Young Common lizards are very dark coloured compared to the adults and have two rows of pale spots down their back.
The majority of sightings have been on grassland, hedgerows, woodland edges, road and railway embankments. Common lizards emerge from hibernation sometimes as early as mid- February if the weather is mild. Initially they will spend long periods basking and they start to mate in April and May. The males are territorial and compete for the females, fights being commonplace. The eggs are retained in the body and 4-10 live young are born under cover, in late July or August in a membranous sac. The young lizard ruptures the membrane with a special egg-tooth and is independent of the mother. Common lizards eat a variety of insect and other invertebrate species.
Protection status
Some protection under the Berne Convention as to their exploitation.
Protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Schedule 5. from trade, injury and killing.

The Grass Snake

Local status and distribution
The Grass snake is widespread throughout the county. It is the most common reptile species in the county constituting 58% of the total reptile records for the county. Many of these Grass snake records are chance encounters with fewer breeding sites recorded and it is the only snake found in populated areas. In Victorian times it was described as being a common and generally distributed species.
The Grass snake is the largest native snake, the males reaching up to 90cm (3 feet) in size. Mature females can be up to 150cm (5 feet) long, but it is rare for females to reach this size. Colouration is variable and grass snakes are usually a shade of olive green, but brown and grey snakes are not uncommon. Their bodies bear fine black vertical bars and/or spots running along their sides. It has a characteristic orange, yellow or white collar round the neck.
Grass snakes are found in a variety of habitats throughout the county but they tend to prefer habitats associated with water where they feed on amphibians and fish. Grass snakes start to emerge from hibernation in March and April and mating soon occurs. The grass snake is the only native snake to lay eggs. This takes place in June/July in piles of vegetation, manure and compost heaps where the warmth from decomposition helps to incubate the 10 - 40 eggs laid. Often several females can share the same egg-laying site and the young snakes hatch in August/September. Grass snakes are completely harmless to humans, but if disturbed or handled can bite and exude a nasty-smelling secretion from their anal gland.
Protection status
Some protection under the Berne Convention as to their exploitation.
Protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Schedule 5. from trade, injury and killing.



Amphibian ladder trial

Written on Monday 5th September, 2016

On a rainy night in early March 2015, WART members went to check out roads in Balsall Common for amphibians and found approximately 20 common frogs and around 10 smooth newts on the roads, many of them sadly run over while migrating back to their breeding ponds. From talking with residents, about 20 years ago there were many more frogs crossing Meeting House Lane in spring, but apparently numbers have been decreasing in recent years. Several of the amphibians were found trapped in the gully pots along the roads in the area, including Sunnyside Lane and Barretts Lane as well as Meeting House Lane. 

Gully pots are necessary for road maintenance; however they can be death traps for amphibians. Each year large numbers of amphibians, both adults and juveniles, fall into gully pots and die through starvation or by drowning in the drainage system.  There are over 17 million in England alone and they trap other animals apart from amphibians including small mammals and birds.

We were aware of 'Enkamat', a strong material used to prevent soil erosion on steep banks, and had recently purchased a roll from the Sussex ARG.  Enkamat is an open weave material which has been used as an escape "ladder" fitted to road drains and other gullypots where amphibians are known to get trapped. It can also be used in swimming pools and other vertical sided tanks, lagoons etc.  With thanks to Highways at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council for allowing us to do so, we installed amphibian ladders to approximately 20 road drains during March.  We then monitored the use of the ladders (as far as possible when time allowed) until October.  Common frogs were the most commonly found species by far, with small numbers of smooth newt, great crested newt and common toad also seen on the roads or in the gullies.  We found a breeding hotspot at the end of Barretts Lane where there is a large garden pond, together with two wet ditches along a public footpath where breeding frogs and great crested newts were seen.

After installation of the ladders we found a total of 31 amphibians, 19 of which were found in gullies with a ladder installed and 12 in gullies with no amphibian ladder. Although the results are not conclusive, on a positive note we observed on four occasions (including ongoing checks this year) common frogs and smooth newts crawling up the Enkamat which is good evidence it is successful. It should also be noted that the ladders were targeted to gullypots where they had been found previously and perhaps more likely to have fallen in. Amphibian ladders have also been shown to work in detailed studies undertaken in the Netherlands and Angus, Scotland.  However as there is no way of knowing how many amphibians had previously escaped from these gullies it is unfortunately difficult to measure success of the trial and we would need further survey with daily checks and more resources to fully establish this.

We're looking for volunteer gully pot surveyors for next spring – please get in touch! Training will be provided and no previous experience needed – contact us via recordswart@gmail.com.

Overall given that amphibians were seen using the Enkamat we believe that it is a sign of success and we are planning on carrying on the trial next year, hopefully by replacing some of the ladders with a newly designed amphibian ladder by the British Herpetological Society. 

Please look out for amphibians on the roads in spring and report your sightings!  Thanks to WART members who have been monitoring newly recorded toad crossing sites in Norton Lindsey, Snitterfield and Edstone this year. Volunteer surveyors needed to help toads on roads next spring in these and other areas – please contact recordswart@gmail.com.

For more info see:

Froglife website: www.froglife.org/what-we-do/toads-on-roads

ARG UK website: www.arguk.org/saving-amphibians-in-drains

BHS website: www.thebhs.org/index.php?option=com_tienda&view=products&task=view&id=4&filter_category=2&Itemid=36

WART trip to Sutton Park

Written on Sunday 30th September, 2012
On Saturday 29th September WART visited Sutton Park in a search for the Warwickshire Adder. Sutton Park is a huge park, covering 2400 acres, completely surrounded by the Birmingham conurbation.

The park contains the largest area of heathland in the Warwickshire vice-county. There are historical records of adders there and recent anecdotal sightings but nothing concrete.

It was a beautiful clear blue sky on setting off, if a little breezy. Sadly, no adders were spotted but we did see 14 common lizards, including one rather green individual and several of the new arrivals from 2012, and a toad.

Interestingly, the heathland is managed by Exmoor ponies but most of the lizards were seen in a small area of heathland fenced off from the ponies, where the grass was more tussocky and there was a bit more variation in vegetation.

Many thanks to WART members Bob and Kathryn Evans and their friend Nicky who joined the committee members on the day.

Sutton Park group photo

Greenish Common Lizard

WART on Facebook

Written on Sunday 30th September, 2012

WART is now on Facebook.

This is to make the group much more interactive so everyone can communicate with each other and share their herp pics, stories and sightings.

To join click here http://www.facebook.com/groups/wartsoc or just log into Facebook and search for WARTSOC, click on “Join Group” on the right hand side of the page.

If you're not already on Facebook it's very easy to sign up at http://www.facebook.com

Purley Quarry

Written on Sunday 30th September, 2012

WART was been granted access to survey for reptiles at Purley Quarry near Atherstone. The quarry is no longer being worked but the site is still very sparse.

There were some nicer areas bordering the adjacent woodland and it was these areas that were concentrated on. Over 50 sheets were placed on site and the presence of slow-worms, grass snakes, toads, smooth newts and great crested newts has been confirmed. More interestingly, we did have reports of adders from the quarry workers but once again no pictures sadly.

It certainly will be worth a few visits next spring to see if the reports of adders can be substantiated. At least the workers know what to look for now and might manage to snap a pic on their phones.

Slow worm at Purley Quarry


WART Training Day 2012

Written on Sunday 30th September, 2012

The 2012 WART training day on 21st April was attended by eighteen new members. 

After the indoor session we had a field trip to the WART reserve at Kenilworth Common, where, in spite of the dull day, we managed to find a slow-worm and three lizards.

Looking for lizards at WART's Kenilworth Common reserve.


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Photo Gallery

Check out the photo gallery
Green Common Lizard at Sutton Park
Common Lizard, Zootoca vivipara, at Sutton Park. This one was quite a ...

Slow worm at Purley Quarry
One of the slow worms from the survey at Purley Quarry

WART Training Day 2012
Looking for lizards at WART's Kenilworth Common reserve.

WART trip to Sutton Park
A last chance to find the Warwickshire adder for 2012. Needless to...


Record your Sightings

Contact Us

Leave a message on this http://www.facebook.com/groups/wartsoc
Or email tim@gribblybugs.com

c/o Warwickshire Wildlife Trust
Brandon Marsh Nature Centre
Brandon Lane
Warwickshire CV3 3GW

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Latest News

Amphibian ladder trial: On a rainy night in early March 2015, WART members went to check out roads in Balsall Common for amphibians and found approximately 20 common frogs and around 10 smooth newts on the roads, many of them sadly run over while migrating back to their breeding ponds. From talking with... read more >>