Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group (DRAG)
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About us

About Us

Welcome to the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group (DRAG) website.


Who are we?

We are a friendly, volunteer led group who have a passion for reptiles and amphibians and a willingness to share this passion, knowledge and experience with others.

We are made up of individuals with a variety of backgrounds and interests, from those with a general interest in the natural world to experienced herpetologists, ecologists and conservationists.


What do we hope to achieve?

Here are some of the group’s key aims and objectives:

  • · To identify and protect important reptile and amphibian sites in the county of Devon
  • · To support partner groups and organisations in conserving these sites
  • · To better understand species distributions, populations and potential negative trends and to help mitigate or reverse those trends
  • · To promote conservation through education and public engagement
  • · To collect and submit data to Devon Biodiversity Records Centre (DBRC)


How do we achieve this?

  • · Through monitoring and surveying of known sites
  • · Through visiting potential sites of interest
  • · By working along with landowners and organisations in providing advice and consultations on habitat management and species monitoring
  • · By encouraging everyone to report sightings of reptiles and amphibians on Record Pool either by using the 'Record a sighting' tab in the menu above or by visiting Record Pool.
  • · By holding events and by providing resources that aim to raise awareness and educate people about these amazing animals and their habitats
  • · By recruiting more members



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 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.


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 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


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

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

Mabel Harris



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Why become a member?

Well, big things start in small ways and becoming a member of the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group (DRAG) is one step you can take towards protecting the reptiles and amphibians in your local area and beyond.

Whether you’re dropping us a line by email, submitting a photo or participating as a volunteer in a reptile or amphibian survey your contribution is valued all the same. Everything we can do to keep the ‘conversation’ going is great for the reptiles and amphibians of Devon.

The more members that join the greater the potential for activity. Put simply, without members we couldn’t do what we do and it would be great to have you join us.


Membership benefits:

  • · Become part of a group of like minded individuals and keep in touch via social media or email
  • · Invitations to events, training and volunteering opportunities
  • · A quarterly newsletter
  • · Opportunities to see and work with elusive and hard to find species
  • · Opportunities to learn new skills
  • · Gain practical experience in conservation
  • · The opportunity to have a positive, lasting impact on Devon’s wildlife


Some of the activities that you will be invited to can include talks by local experts, guided walks, bioblitzes and even species identification and survey skills training.

Opportunities for volunteering could include surveying, habitat management or helping out at nature festivals.


Have a voice in what we do.

We value your feedback and encourage it.

For example:

  • · Do you have an idea for an event or training?
  • · Is there a site near you that we are unaware of?

Drop us a line and let us know at


How do I join?

If you would like to become a member please send your request by email to



  • · Question: How much does membership cost?

                Answer: Membership is free to join.

  • · Question: How long will my membership last?

                Answer: Currently, membership is on a rolling annual basis.

  • · Question: Do I need special knowledge, qualifications or experience to become a member?

                Answer: No. There are no prerequisites, nor is there any minimum level of commitment required.

  • · Question: Can I be a member but not volunteer?

                Answer: Yes. Whilst volunteering makes a big difference to what we do, we totally understand that not everyone’s circumstances allow for it.

  • · Question: How do I cancel my membership?

                Answer: You can cancel your membership at any time by sending your request to


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:


Please be patient with us, this email address is not checked every day!

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events will be listed here.

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