Birmingham and Black Country Amphibian and Reptile Group (BBCARG)
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About us

About Us

Hi there!

Welcome to the Birmingham and Black Country Amphibian and Reptile Group page, we are a volunteer-led group actively involved in the conservation of native species of amphibian and reptile and their habitats. We aim to establish and monitor the distribution and status of amphibians and reptiles in the area; actively conserve reptiles, amphibians and their habitats through practical work; foster peoples' interest in amphibians and reptiles and their conservation; and develop the skills of those interested in these species.


We are always happy to hear from people in the area about anything to do with reptiles and amphibians, if you are interested in finding out more or getting involved - please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Reptile and Amphibian Sightings:

If you have been lucky enough to spot some of our reptiles and amphibians, please report a sighting on our 'Record A Sighting' page.


2021/22 Committee:

Chairperson - Amber Hopgood

Secretary - Katy Perry

Treasurer - Matt Armes

Records Officer - Natalie Norton

Birmingham Project Officer - Matt Armes

Black Country Project Officer - Chris Dunn

Training & Events Officer - Paul Wilkinson

Website & Social Media Officer - Amber Hopgood

Committee member - Shaun Pope

Committee member - Dean Cordelle

Committee member - Charlene Jones 



Welcoming Our New Committee

Posted on Friday 2nd April, 2021

On the 24th March we had our 2021 virtual AGM, and we are very pleased to announce that we have elected our 2021/22 committee and have welcomed a new committee member to the group, bringing our committee to a total of 9 people. 





Amber Hopgood

Amber Hopgood


Katy Perry

Katy Perry


Hannah Lewis

Matt Armes

Records Officer

Charlene Jones

Natalie Norton

Birmingham Project Officer

Charlene Jones

Matt Armes

Black Country Project Officer

Chris Dunn

Chris Dunn

Training and Events

Paul Wilkinson

Paul Wilkinson

Website and Social Media

Amber Hopgood

Amber Hopgood

Ordinary Committee Member

Shaun Pope

Shaun Pope

Ordinary Committee Member


Dean Cordelle

Ordinary Committee Member


Charlene Jones



Posted on Sunday 22nd November, 2020

Hello everyone,

On behalf of the BBCARG, I hope that you are all well and getting on okay after this year; it has been a strange one for the group - and probably for many of the groups you interact with – as we have not been able to get out and about doing surveying, habitat management or running and attending events. That said, we are hopeful that next year we will be able to do more and already have a few things in the pipeline to work on and invite you to.

This spring, we did not send out requests for membership renewal as we expected that we would not be able to run events as usual. Something we have been working on since then is our very own ARGWEB platform, which will allow us to manage our members and help you manage your membership with us via a log-in portal. Once we have this set-up and working we will be emailing everyone and posting on here with more information, and if you would like to renew or start a membership with us you will be able to do so then.

Member or not, I hope you enjoy our newsletter put together by the committee. Please note that from next year, only our paying members will be receiving our newsletters and will have better access to events, training and updates from us - so if you would like to stay in the loop make sure to join again when we send out the details. Stay safe, and we hope to see you soon. 

View our November 2020 Newsletter here.

Frog or Toad?

Posted on Monday 24th February, 2020

This time of year everyone gets quite excited about the near arrival of our beloved frogs and toads as they move to ponds and start breeding. Many toad patrols are active and well, helping common toads move safely to their breeding ponds. 

If you have ponds and wetlands near you, or some amphibians have taken up refuge somewhere nearby - it is very useful to be able to understand what it is that you've found so that you can then report your findings to us! The more information we have about our frogs and toads, the better we can act to protect and preserve them.

As a result, we've put together some guidance to help you figure out whether you have fabulous frogs or tremendous toads in your local area. The two species are quite distinct when you know what you're looking for, so hopefully this will help.


So what are frogs and toads?

  • Find out about common toads (Bufo bufo) - information page and video. Find out what they sound like here.
  • Find out about common frogs (Rana temporaria) - information page and video. Find out what they sound like here.
  • What do frogs and toads look like? ID Guide.
  • But what about in real life? Photos of frogs and toads.
  • What about spawn? Spawn FAQs can be found here


If you do find frogs, toads or spawn near you - make sure you report it via the RecordPool portal on our website - find it under the 'Record A Sighting' tab.


Note - We 100% encourage people to get out an about looking for our wonderful amphibians, but care is needed. Make sure you're aware of how to keep them safe from harm, make sure you're up to date on amphibian disease. We do not recommend that anyone handle any animals unless it is absolutely necessary. 


Posted on Thursday 7th March, 2019

After our 'Evening of Herpetology' event, we held our Annual General Meeting (AGM).

During this we reviewed our year, what progress we had made, the successes we had achieved, and we also discussed what we have planned for the upcoming year. 


We also elected our new committee, which is as follows:

Chair - Amber Hopgood

Secretary - Katy Perry

Treasurer - Hannah Lewis

Records Officer - Charlene Jones

Website and Social Media Officer - Amber Hopgood

Training and Events Officer - Paul Wilkinson

Newsletter Editor - Tasha Cain

Black Country Project Officer - Piotr Koryl

Birmingham Project Officer - Charlene Jones

Records Assistant/Committee member - Shannon McCallion

Evening of Herpetology

Posted on Wednesday 6th March, 2019

Our Valentine's day 'frogs, sex and rock 'n' roll' Evening of Herpetology event was a huge success! In case you missed it... we had a series of three talks by local ARG members on a variety of herpetology topics!

IMG 5940

First of all we had Ben Wood from the Warwickshire Amphibian and Reptile Team (WART) talking about the work the group is currently doing using amphibian drain ladders designed by Trevor Rose.

In and around Warwickshire (and most other urban areas) there is a large problem with amphibians getting trapped in roadside drains and not being able to make their way out again without help. As a result WART has been liaising with local councils, transport agencies and water companies to try and help these animals as best as practically possible and provide drain ladders.

These ladders act as a relatively simple way of ensuring that any amphibians that find themselves in a drain have a chance of escaping, which is particularly important when there is limited volunteer-power and restrictions on how quickly (and widely) people can volunteer their time to check drains. 

The group is now monitoring how effective these drain ladders are, and are looking to expand the area in which they are running this project.

IMG 5942

Second we had Dr Stuart Graham from the Shropshire and Staffordshire Amphibian and Reptile Group (SASARG) talk about Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) and their impacts on UK wildlife.

Stuart has done a lot of work investigating INNS, with there being at least 21 non-native species present in the UK, and explained what species are involved and how they are distributed across the country.

He talked about the fact that there are positives and negatives associated with INNS, and although the detrimental effects and risks of disease, hybridisation and even predation are concerning, the presence of Invasive Non-Native Species not only provides us - as Herpetologists - with extensive research and monitoring opportunities, it may also have a positive effect on the adaptive capabilities of our native species. 

That said, the main thing that Stuart highlighted was that we do not yet know enough about the species present in the UK and the effects they may have on our native flora and fauna - and so much more research and monitoring is needed. 

IMG 5945

We ended the evening with a talk from our very own Records Manager - Amber Hopgood - and her work on native reptile micro-habitat preferences. 

For her undergraduate dissertation Amber set out to try and fill the knowledge gap surrounding microhabitat and whether native species (adders Vipera berus, grass snakes Natrix helvetica, common lizards Zootoca vivipara, and slow worms Anguis fragilis) showed any preference for certain microhabitat features. 

Amber talked about the reptile surveys she conducted throughout the field season and detailed the habitat assessment method she designed for her study. She also presented her findings so far and discussed how the different species occupied different microhabitat types - in regards to the habitat structure and the thermal properties of the area. 

She highlighted that this is an under-researched but important area of species conservation and hopes to inform future habitat management with her findings.

We would like to extend a massive 'thank you!' to our speakers and to everyone that came along and supported the group for this event, hopefully we will see you all again at one of our next events! 




Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

An Evening Of Herpetology

Thu 14th February, 2019

Join us for a series of short herpetology talks followed by our Annual General Meeting, see the flyer below for more details.


The talks are as follows:

Ben Wood - Warwickshire Amphibian and Reptile Team (WART)

The widespread problem of amphibian mortality on roads is well-known, but the impacts of road drainage schemes on populations can only be guessed at. Warwickshire Amphibian and Reptile Team have been rescuing amphibians by hand from sites in Warwickshire and Solihull where large numbers of frogs, toads and newts were found trapped in gully pots after falling into road drains. In 2015 and 2016 WART trialled synthetic mesh ladders, which appeared to have some success in allowing amphibians to escape from the gully pots. More recently they installed some of the more robust aluminium and mesh ladders supplied by the British Herpetological Society which have proven to be successful elsewhere in the UK. Ben will talk about some of the challenges the group have encountered when accessing the drains and installing the ladders and their observations so far. Amphibian escape ladders are being used here as a last resort. Ultimately we will need to change the way we design road drainage schemes to prevent this problem from contributing to the decline of amphibian species not just in the UK but elsewhere in the world.


Dr Stuart Graham - Shropshire and Staffordshire ARG

Does the presence of all Invasive Non-Native Species have significant adverse impacts on native amphibian and reptile biodiversity? Over twenty-one invasive amphibian and reptile species have been recorded as being present in many locations across the UK, although more may be present, not having been detected. This paper provides a definition of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) along with a discussion on potential pros and cons of individual species presence. Future trends and threats, with case examples of current scientific research and eradication programmes undertaken, are also presented.


Amber Hopgood - Birmingham and Black Country ARG

Reptile micro-habitat preference is a largely understudied area of conservation science, particularly for UK native species. As such, Amber dedicated her undergraduate dissertation to the topic, and spent the entirety of the 2018 season investigating this in relation to vegetation structure and temperature for four native species - adders (Vipera berus), common lizards (Zootoca vivipara), grass snakes (Natrix helvetica) and slow worms (Anguis fragilis) at a site in south Staffordshire, and is pleased to share some of her results.


Grass Snake Habitat Management

Sat 9th March, 2019



Join us for a morning of habitat management for grass snakes! Please note that this event is only open for paid members to attend. If you are a member and would like to come, please email us at Tools will be provided, 


Location: Baggeridge Country Park, Gospel End, Sedgley, South Staffordshire, DY3 4HB.

Date and Time: 9th March from 10am till 12pm noon.

Details: Tools provided and car parking available. Please wear appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear, bring work gloves if you have them. 

Sutton Park BioBlitz

Sat 22nd June, 2019

We will be at the Sutton Park BioBlitz hosting a stall to talk to people about reptiles and amphibians, and will also be running a reptile walk between 10:00-12:00. Please see the attached poster for details.

Sutton Bioblitz

Newt Tadpole ID

Mon 19th August, 2019

Newt Tadpole Identification

When: Saturday 10th August

Where: Fens Pool SSSI - Wardens Base, Pensnett Road, DY5 4NE (by Junction with Bryce Road traffic lights)

What time: 10.30am - 12.30pm

What: Newt tadpole identification - please wear sturdy boots or wellies and weather appropriate clothing.


Please email us at to book your space!

Reptile Walk

Sat 21st September, 2019

Join us for a guided reptile walk at Sutton Park led by two of our committee members!


When: Saturday 21st September

Where: Visitors Centre, Sutton Park

Time: 10am - 12pm

Details: Reptile survey with limited spaces. Please contact if you would like to book a space.


Committee Meeting

Fri 8th November, 2019

We have a committee meeting coming up soon!

All members are welcome, but it is a committee meeting in which we will be discussing and planning winter events so it's not the most exciting! We will send out meeting minutes and information about events after the meeting has taken place.


Details are as follows:

When? Friday 8th November from 18:30-20:30.

Where? Canal and River Trust Office, 22 Cambrian House, King Edwards Road, Birmingham, B1 2AN. 

2020 AGM

Thu 5th March, 2020

We are holding our AGM in March. There are no arranged speakers as we have the West Midlands Conference coming up soon, but we will be electing members into positions and discussing the successes of 2019 and planning the upcoming year.


When? Thursday 5th March, 6.30pm

Where? Aqua House, 20 Lionel St, Birmingham B3 1AQ - google maps here.

West Midlands Regional ARG Conference - POSTPONED

Sat 4th April, 2020

West Midlands ARG banner


Due to COVID-19 this conference has been postponed. We are looking to reschedule it in the Autumn. Refunds will be issued to anyone who had paid for a ticket and details will be provided when a new date has been arranged. 


The Birmingham and Black Country Amphibian and Reptile Group (BBCARG) are pleased to announce that we are organising the West Midlands Regional ARG Conference in conjunction with Amphibian and Reptile Groups UK (ARG UK), at Himley Hall, near Dudley, West Midlands on 4th April 2020.

The theme of the conference will be: ‘Managing reptile and amphibian conservation in a time of increasing public pressure on wildlife’. As we are all too aware in the Midlands, many local populations of our beloved amphibians and reptiles are in a precarious state, and in a time of increasing pressure on our native species and the habitats they depend on, they need all the help they can get. Public pressure can encompass any of the following: disturbance from recreational site users; housing or infrastructure development of important sites or green corridors reducing and fragmenting suitable habitat; the issue of biosecurity; and even the impact of herpetologists, photographers and the wider public, wanting to encounter our native reptiles and amphibians.

Greater public engagement in reptiles and amphibians is a welcome step to encouraging greater interest in the natural world and support for the conservation of what are sometimes classed as ‘less cuddly’ species , but it needs careful management to ensure that the balance between species conservation and public interest is maintained. This paradox is what we aim to explore with this conference - by looking at the different methods that our ARGs, land managers and other conservation professionals adopt to ensure the animals are protected and have the opportunity to thrive, whilst also educating and inspiring people to join us in doing so. We will aim to share our ideas and experiences to improve the work that we all do in the region, and find answers to some of these problematic questions.

The full speaker programme is now available on our website, and we are delighted to welcome Ewan Chapman of the National Trust at Kinver Edge, who will give a keynote presentation on the challenges and solutions of managing a reserve on the urban fringe. We will also be joined by Paul Edgar, Herpetofauna Species Specialist at Natural England, Natalie Norton, Senior Conservation Officer at BBCWT, ARG UK Coordinator, Angela Julian who will discuss some of the outcomes of the ARG UK Adders are Amazing! project, Jennifer Gilbert, Back from the Brink, Cotswolds Community Engagement Officer who will be telling us more about the challenges of managing multi-species conservation and public engagement at a landscape level, Paul Wilkinson from BBC ARG, Ian Tanner from WART, Andrew Nixon, Senior Conservation Manager at the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust who will be telling us about an exciting new Ice Age Pond project they are setting up with HART, and Nigel Hand plus David Dewsbury of GlosARG who will be telling us more about conserving amphibians and reptiles in the Forest of Dean. There will also be an afternoon workshop exploring the issues surrounding balancing balancing public access with conservation priorities. Ticket price will include entry to the conference and welcome refreshments, two tea/coffee breaks, and a buffet lunch. We can cater to any dietary preference.

Please note the deadline for ticket purchases will be Monday 23rd March 2020.


Programme available here.

Tickets available here.

BBCARG GCN Licence Training

Fri 22nd January, 2021

What: BBCARG GCN Licence Training

When: Fri, 22 January. 7pm – 8pm

Where: Zoom (Online)

Join us for a short training session teaching you about Great Crested Newts and the basic species information you will need to know to gain experience for a licence to survey them. 

Please join as a member via our Membership page to access this event. 

BBCARG Reptile ID & Survey Training

Sun 30th May, 2021

We are teaming up with Froglife's Discovering Reptiles Project Officer, Ben Harris, to bring you a reptile identification and survey methods training event.

This free training will take approximately 3.5 hours and will cover:
   - UK reptile identification
   - Common/widespread reptile ecology and UK distribution
   - Reptile survey methods

This training is perfect for anyone looking to get involved in reptile surveys with the BBCARG, and we would encourage anyone who is interested to attend this training. We are hoping to run some follow-up practical reptile survey training sessions later in the year.

What: Reptile ID and Survey Training Workshop
When: 10:00am, Sunday 30th May 2021
Where: Zoom (online)
Price: Free

To join this training please join the BBCARG via the membership page, once your BBCARGWEB account is set up you will be able to log in and see the event details in the 'Events' tab.

If you have any questions please email us at, and we hope to see you there.




As a member you will:

  • Receive updates on our work via social media and email

  • Receive our newsletter

  • Receive details of all our courses and events, which you can access for free

  • Help to conserve and monitor our local reptiles and amphibians

  • Learn about all of our local reptile and amphibian species

  • You will also be entitled to a reduced registration fee at the national ARG UK amphibian and reptile conference


Membership costs £4 a year. You can become a member by clicking the PayPal 'Subscribe' button below, which will set up an automatically renewing £4/year subscription to the BBCARG which will also give you access to our ARGWEB portal. You can cancel this subscription at any time via your PayPal account.



If you do not have a PayPal account, you can download our membership form (here: docxBBCARG_Volunteer_Membership_form_2019.docx) and email it to


Member Newsletters:

As a member of the BBCARG you will receive a copy of our newsletter via email every time we publish one, they are then posted here after 6-8 weeks. If you would like to receive our newsletters and the latest information about the group, our activities and events - we recommend you join as a member.


December 2020 Newsletter - view here

December 2019 Newsletter - not digitally available

February 2019 Newsletter - pdfBBCARG_Newsletter_2019.02.pdf

Wildlife Advice

Wildlife Advice

Toad amplexus

Unsure what species of amphibian or reptile you have seen?


Have a look at these handy guides to help you identify the animal you have seen - you can also get in touch with any queries.

Reptile ID Guide

Amphibian ID Guide


More information on reptiles and amphibians

Frogs, toads and spawn  




Slow worm

Non-native species 

Reptile and amphibian habitats 


Found a sick, injured or dead reptile or amphibian?

Have a look at these handy guides to help you identify what you have seen - you can also get in  touch with any queries. Any and all animals should be reported to Garden Wildlife Health.

Amphibian disease (Chytrid and Ranavirus)

Reptile disease (Snake Fungal Disease)

Amphibian disease precautions


You can also find advice on the following topics:

Gardens and ponds

Snakes in gardens 




Welcome to our ARGWEB portal! Here you will be able to log in to the BBCARGWEB system, which is accessible to all of our members.



Not a member? Join today on our Membership page or by clicking the PayPal 'Subscribe' button below. This will set up an automatically renewing £4/year subscription to the BBCARG which will also give you access to our ARGWEB portal. You can cancel this subscription at any time via your PayPal account.



Photo gallery

Photo Gallery

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Contact us

Contact Us

For further information on the work of BBCARG contact us by email or find us on one of our social media platforms.


We would like to encourage everyone who has an interest in reptiles and amphibians to join our group as a member.



Centre of the Earth, 42 Norman Street, Birmingham, B18 7EP

We also have a YouTube channel we now post educational videos to, click here to visit.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events will be listed here.

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