Hampshire And Isle of Wight Amphibian and Reptile Group (HIWARG)
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About us

About Us

Hampshire is fortunate that the county covers a huge geographic area and a very diverse breadth of habitat including: the Isle of Wight, the New Forest National Park, the South Downs National Park, as well as many other unspoiled areas, including Woolmer Forest.
It is therefore unsurprising that we are host to 12 out of the 13 native amphibians and reptiles in UK, including rarities such as the Natterjack Toad, Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake, and wherever you live in the county there will be opportunities to survey and monitor an assemblage of amphibian and reptile species.

HIWARG formed in the Autumn of 2018 and is an affiliated independent ARG-UK group. The group focus is conservation of native UK species essentially around habitat management, surveying, public engagement, volunteer training & doing as much as possible to understand & protect the native species in the county.
All members are volunteers with a common interest.

If you have some spare time and would like to be involved with HIWARG, maybe you have taken a photo of a reptile or amphibian and would like it identified or maybe you have some other query, then please do get in contact  info@hiwarg.org.uk 



Visit HIWARG's Redbubble Shop to support our work www.redbubble.com/people/HIWARG/shop



Amphibian survey and ID training opportunities

Posted on Saturday 29th October, 2022

Paid up HIWARG members keep an eye on your email inbox over the next couple of days. We will be emailing out details for upcoming amphibian survey and ID training opportunities.

If you are interested in becoming a member of HIWARG, visit our website at https://groups.arguk.org/hiwarg and click the "Join up or Log in" tab

Autumnal Amphibian Challenge

Posted on Sunday 23rd October, 2022

With this amphibian friendly weather, HIWARG are holding an autumnal challenge:

Visit a pond after dark with your torch, and a friend or two, and record the amphibians you spot. It is dark enough for torch surveys from 7pm ish onwards, so you could check out a pond on an evening walk with family or friends and still be home at a decent time. If you are heading to a pub or restaurant, check a pond out on the way. By using a torch, you don't need to get wet or messy, just stand next to the pond and shine your torch in the water. Stronger torches have better chances to illuminate amphibians beneath the water.

You can find everything you need to spot and ID amphibians in a pond by visiting our website's "Info and ID Guides" tab. We have uploaded everything from Risk Assessments and lone working guides to a range of ID sheets.

I will also be running some amphibian survey and ID sessions over the next few months. These will be open to members, but you can join us for £6 a year on our website under the "Join up or Login" tab.

You can share your sightings on our Facebook group as part of the challenge or for help with IDs. You can also post your photos on any social media platform with the challenge's hashtag below.

Finally, hashtag your FB group posts with #HIWARGAutumnalAmphibians2022 and lets see who gets the most sightings. Go!


Please remember to record your sightings on www.recordpool.org.uk as all records count.

Explosion in frog numbers after mass pond digging

Posted on Wednesday 19th October, 2022

Excerpt from BBC News:


"Switzerland has reversed the decline of more than half of endangered frogs, toads and newts in one region, research finds. 

After conservationists dug hundreds of new ponds in the canton of Aargau, amphibian numbers significantly increased. The European tree frog population in particular "exploded", scientists say. Scientists hope this method could be used globally as pond building is simple and effective."


Read the full article here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-63206140?fbclid=IwAR1buSxTRBcloHemHpCHmNst9tSoPDOsUTKTxFTvSwlgFbaRh1GDcDKO4do

South East Regional ARGs Meeting 8th October

Posted on Wednesday 19th October, 2022


Copied and pasted from the ARG UK Facebook page:


For those unable to attend (and for those who did), DICE PhD student Steve Allain has aptly summarised the spirit of the SE Regional ARGs Meeting held on 8th October at the University of Kent in his blog.


Suckers for Amphibians update

Posted on Friday 12th August, 2022

There have been a few big steps in the #suckers4amphibians project since #HIWARG and #reptilariumIOW began their investigations into a very specific leech feeding behaviour in 2020.

Last year ARG UK promoted the project which led to several organisations joining us on our journey. Angela also gave a presentation on the project last Sunday to the First Global Amphibian and Reptile Disease Conference #GARD2022 in Tennessee, USA.

We can also for the first time, give a name to the "unknown leech". We have had suspicions for some time, but thanks to an initial ID by Buglife which was confirmed by DNA tests by Garden Wildlife Health and the University of Silesia four of the cases we hav received are a non-native leech from the Genus Batracobdella.

Yesterday, we had another report come in of a toad with leeches on its eyes, throat and limbs... but this time outside of the two known clusters in South Devon and the Isle of Wight. Hopefully we will get a sample off soon for ID.

Screenshot 2022 08 12 231505

How you can help

Handling and the collection of samples

Please wear gloves when handling an infected animal for biosecurity purposes - and wash any containers or other materials that have held the amphibian with disinfectant. The target leech is also known to attach to humans!

Do not try to remove leeches yourself, contact us in the first instance and we will guide further. However, the following points detail some basic steps:

  • Place the amphibian in a container with water to encourage some of the leeches to detach themselves. These can be collected and isolated for sampling. It is best to place something in the tank for the amphibian to leave the water if it wishes or to avoid drowning.
  • You could ask a local vet or wildlife hospital to remove leeches for you, but inform them that we need the leeches preserved in good condition for ID purposes.
  • We will send you a vial of 70% ethanol to preserve the leeches for analysis, but very strong vodka can also be used to preserve them if you don’t have or receive ethanol.
  • Please note, this project is not intended to persecute leeches. We are investigating a specific type of feeding behaviour, species identification and distribution of the leeches involved to better understand the dynamics and impacts. Leeches are an important component of biodiversity and form an important part of the food chain themselves.

Visit the following websites for more information:







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Join up or Log In

Join up or Log In

          Members sign in here

Membership costs just £6.00 per year as a subscription that can be cancelled at any time. 
Your membership will help HIWARG to protect the amphibians & reptile of Hampshire. 
Be aware of and take part in conservation opportunities, surveys and many other activities across the county.


Click here to go directly to PayPal to subscribe as a member:

Donate to HIWARG

Donate to HIWARG

You can help HIWARG achieve its goals by a simple donation towards our activities.
Donations are put towards equipment used for habitat management, surveys and public engagement such as printed material and fact sheets to hand out during educational events.




Info & ID guides

Info & ID guides

Policies/Health & Safety                                                              

HIWARG Safeguarding Policy and Protocols June 2020

Buddy System/Lone Working Procedures

ARG UK Generic Risk Assessment July2020


Identification Guides

Amphibian Identification - downloadable colour cards : a great ID guide from ARG UK/ARC 

Newt Eggs & Larvae - downloadable colour cards  : an excerpt from the above guide, specifically on newt eggs and larvae

Its a small newt but which one : a HIWARG guide to help differentiate smooth newts and palmate newts

Reptile Identification - downloadable colour cards : a great ID guide from ARG UK/ARC 

Non-Native Species ID Sheets (NNSS Website) : ID sheets from the Non Native Species Secretariat

Alien Amphibian and Reptile Species in the UK : A bilingual guide (English/Welsh) from ARC


Advice and Information

ARC's "Dogs and Adders" Advice Sheet

"There is a Snake in my Garden - What can I do?" (ARG UK)


Projects & Citizen Science

DARN's 'Slow Worms in Churchyards' project

'Amphibians & Reptiles on Allotments' Introduction Leaflet

"Spawn Spotters" presentation 12 Jan 2021

Toad Patrol presentation 12 Jan 2021

Gotta love a larva  presentation 9 July 2021

HIWARG Video: Spawn Spotters and Toad Patrols Jan 2021

HIWARG Video: Amphibian surveys: ID'S & Survey Methods March 2021


Habitat Management and Creation

Creating Garden Ponds - downloadable booklet   

Creating Ponds for Amphibians and Reptiles (Freshwater Habitats Trust)

Habitat Management guides (Buglife) - Not specifically herp based but a great set of guides

How to Create Invertebrate and Reptile Mounds (Magnificent Meadows)

Creating Grass Snake Egg-laying Heaps (ARG UK and RAVON)


Herp Diseases - Recognise & Report


Advice Note-4: Amphibian disease precautions - a guide for UK fieldworkers

Snake Fungal Disease  

Toad fly (Lucilia bufonivora)   

Amphibian Chytridiomycosis  

Ranavirus Disease  

Reptile Slough Genebank - collection & submission of found sloughs 

Garden Wildlife Health - Severe Perkinsea Infection (SPI)

GWH - Guidelines for safe disposal of waste water and other materials from captive amphibian enclosures



Fixing Enkamat to Gully Pots - Initial Findings in Sussex

Useful glossary of terms often used within the herpetological field. (Credit due - unknown)      

Kids stuff - Educational items for the young ones

            Pond pack                                         Animal fact sheets                               Animal colouring sheets    
Pond Pack                     Alfie1                             Sammy1




Contact us

Contact Us

If you would like more information about HIWARG or have something to share with us, please get in touch via the link to our social media presence. 


Upcoming Events

Upcoming events will be listed here.

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