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



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:





Midwife Toads in Winchester

Posted on Wednesday 1st June, 2022

Midwife Toads are a non native species to the UK, but have been found in several colonies in parts of the country. Hampshire has been named as one of these locations in several sources, but there are no actual records that we are aware of. Despite the lack of records, there is an anecdotal comment on a website to suggest that Midwife Toads were known from the Littleton area and so we are reaching out to residents for their help in recording these elusive toads.Screenshot 2022 06 01 125644

Midwife Toads are smaller than our native toads, with adults reaching around 5cm in length. They can also be distinguished by their eyes, if you are lucky enough to spot one, which have vertical pupils as opposed to horizontal/oval pupils of our two native toads. By far the best way to identify the presence of Midwife Toads is by their calls, which has been likened to “an electronic beep, like a smoke alarm with a dying battery or a New Age car alarm” by Steve Allain, one of the lead national researchers of Midwife Toads. A big difference with these toads is that they are not as reliant on ponds for breeding, as the male toads carry the eggs wrapped around their back legs, hence their name. Breeding usually takes place between April and June so they should have been calling for a few weeks now. 

We are hoping that residents of Littleton, Weeke and Sparsholt areas in particular, as well as the surrounding areas will be willing to help both Steve Allain and HIWARG, by listening out on warm damp nights for the “beeping” toads. If you do hear these calls it would be really helpful if you can record the calls on your phone, or take photos if you manage to see one. We will be arranging surveys of the Littleton area in the coming weeks, so you may see us walking the roads in small listening for calls. We will be walking at night with torches, HIWARG branded clothing (group leaders) and maybe hi vis, so feel free to come and chat to us.

HIWARG will be organising surveys of these areas to listen for calling toads and will also be surveying Littleton Pond for amphibians and other freshwater species. We are reaching out to other parishes and Winchester Council for permission to survey other ponds to give us, and the relevant authorities, a better understanding of biodiversity in the area.


Visit Steve’s blog to hear a sample of several Midwife Toads calling http://stevenallain.co.uk/Blog/scifri-whats-that-beeping-in-my-garden

A pair of midwife toads calling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVPK899UwV8&t=37s


For all sightings/recordings, please contact us on:

HIWARG: info@hiwarg.org.uk or www.facebook.com/groups/455730808110700

Steve Allain: www.facebook.com/SJRAllain or https://twitter.com/stevoallain

Big Green Frog Hunt 2022

Posted on Monday 2nd May, 2022

278874032 10160272623883057 2741040197175943514 nCITIZEN SCIENCE SURVEYS FOR THE NON-NATIVE WATER FROG SPECIES

Water or Green Frogs (Marsh F278874032_10160272623883057_2741040197175943514_n.jpgrog, Southern Clade Pool Frog and Edible Frog) have started calling in earnest again and are now entering their breeding period.

If you want to help us understand their distribution, which enables us to monitor their spread and potential impact if any, they are one of the easiest species to survey for. All you do is go for a walk alongside canals, ponds and other wetland areas on really sunny days and just listen out for their easily recognised calls. With a bit of patience you can get fairly close to take photos which also help with any IDs.

The map below shows the known locations of water frogs in Hampshire and across the borders into Dorset, Sussex, Surrey, Berkshire and Wiltshire. You can use this map to plan your trip. Areas with good access for parking and walking and for hearing water frogs are Basingstoke Canal between Fleet and Farnborough, the Denny Wood area of the New Forest, the RSPB reserves near Selsey, W Sussex and the Alice Holt/Frensham Ponds area. Two other spots that would be good to clarify records are the Haverstock Road area of Bournemouth for DARN and the Afton area on the Isle of Wight.

Check out the videos of calling Marsh Frog and Pool Frogs which show the two vocal sacs that all of the Water Frogs have. The native Common Frog has a single, less obvious vocal sac in its throat.

Marsh Frog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyEhHLlVuQ8

Pool Frog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lGMvBj4mvE

You can also download the ARGUK/ARC amphibian ID guide which has a useful section on the Water Frogs https://www.arguk.org/info-advice/id-guides/441-amphibian-id-guide-revised-2019-pdf

Key ID features to differentiate from Common Frogs:

  • Marsh Frogs and Edible Frogs are larger than Common Frogs, but Pool Frogs are roughly the same size.
  • A much more pointed, conical nose
  • Eyes are closer together and more prominent
  • two obvious raised lines on the sides of the back
  • Sometimes has a green/yellow line down its spine
  • Lacking the dark patch behind the eyes
  • Very long back legs and can jump a considerable distance.
  • Calling very loudly during the day (watch above vids)

Pics have been added below to show the range of colouration and ID features.

I hope to arrange a couple of open events in a few weeks to survey targeted areas once we get a few records in so get recording on Record Pool and watch this space. https://www.recordpool.org.uk/


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Posted on Saturday 24th July, 2021

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Help us to map the distribution of water frogs in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Visit our website, click on the "Record a Sighting" tab and log your observation. Unless your sighting has been ID'd by a specialist to species level, it is always best to record them as "water frogs" https://groups.arguk.org/hiwarg

Water frogs (also known as Green Frogs) are a complex of three non-native frogs:

  • Marsh frogs

  • Southern Pool frogs (Note: Northern Pool frogs are considered native and are a protected species, but are not found in Hampshire)

  • Edible frogs (hybrid of the above two species)

They are found in several locations around Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, but our knowledge of their exact distribution or their impact on native species is poor. They have been known to carry the amphibian disease, Chytridiomycosis, but grass snake populations in particular seem to benefit anecdotally. We would like to understand more about the water frogs in Hampshire, IoW and in neighbouring counties. See the map below for where we have had one or more records and help us to expand on what we know.


You can listen to their calls, along with other amphibians here: https://www.froglife.org/drag.../animals/adults/adult-calls/

More info

You can read more information on Water/Green frogs here: https://www.froglife.org/.../amphibians-and.../green-frogs/

Or read up on their interbreeding dynamics on SARGs website here https://surrey-arg.org.uk/SARGWEB.php?app=WaterFrogs and their genetics here https://surrey-arg.org.uk/SARGWEB.php?app=WaterFrogGenetics

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Pit Stop Pond Surveys

Posted on Friday 18th June, 2021

PitstopPS web

Short fast torch surveys of easily accessible, public access ponds

Pit Stop Pond Surveys are a citizen science activity that anyone can take part in. The idea is to pre plan a route with maps to help identify ponds that are publicly accessible and within a short easy walk from your parked car. Ideally you can make a list of 3-5 ponds that you can visit in around an hour or so, getting to the first pond about twenty minutes after sunset. It is normally still a little too light for torching at this time, but it should only be about 20-30 minutes before it is optimum for torching. It is important to only survey when you have a buddy to accompany you and also let others know where you will be. Google Maps, Magic, or OS Maps are all good for planning your journey and identifying possible ponds. If you do turn up to the pond and you find that its on private land, do not be tempted to trespass. You can often find that ponds are dried up, no longer exist or are not suitable for wildlife, so don't feel too disappointed if this is the case.

At the pond, check the ground and surrounding area for hazards, such as weak edges, trip hazards, etc and make sure that you can easily see the edge of the pond. Also check that you will not be disturbing residents when you are shining torches about... ponds do reflect torchlight up, so angle your torch appropriately. It is also wise to not torch too late as this will upset residents and can cause friction, around 11pm should be late enough for surveying near houses. 

When you have completed your Pit Stop Pond Survey, you can add your sightings to https://www.recordpool.org.uk/ or ARGWEB if you are a HIWARG/local ARG member. If you need help identifying your sightings, try to take photographs or video where possible and use the guides on this website, under "Info and ID Guides". Alternatively, post the images and your questions on our Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/455730808110700 and we will try to help ID them for you.






Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

Spawn Spotters & Toad Patrols: Amphibian activities for all

Tue 12th January, 2021 - Tue 12th January, 2021


To start 2021 off with a positive tone, Pete West of HIWARG is presenting two amphibian topics that are suitable for both members and non-members alike, but with an emphasis on those with less experience.

“Spawn Spotters” is a citizen science project to encourage people to record amphibians seen in their gardens, or on their favourite walks. It focuses largely on frogspawn, as this is an easy indicator of frog population size and also helps to record the dates of the first sightings of the year and peak spawning times. The talk will provide basic friendly advice on how to record these sightings in a meaningful way and how to access help to identify what you have found. It also briefly looks at other opportunities if you are keen to get involved further.

“Toad Patrols” explains how and why groups of volunteers ‘patrol’ toad crossings across busy roads to save toads and other amphibians. This is a great way for people to get involved in a hands on conservation activity for a short length of time, but have a huge impact on the local populations of amphibians. It is also an opportunity to get really close up to amphibians and learn about their ecology and life cycle.

Come and join us on the 12th Jan with no obligation to get involved, but we hope you will become as passionate about amphibian conservation as the rest of us.

The Zoom meeting link will be shared via email before the event starts.



Heath Week 2021 - Forest Finds at Bramshill

Thu 29th July, 2021 - Thu 29th July, 2021

Next Thursday, 29 July, we have been invited to join Natural England and Forestry England on their Heath week activity at Bramshill SSSI

We will have a stall there to talk to visitors about herps in the area and it will be a great chance to engage with walkers and other users of the site.

If anyone is free to help us set up our gazebo between 8am-8.30am that would be great. The event is advertised as 9am to 3pm, so if anyone is free and would like to help on the stall, or just stop by and chat it would be good to see you.

Meeting place is at Bramshill Common Wood Car Park, Bramshill Rd, Hook RG27 0PR (Grid ref SU 76053 61310). It is only a small car park, so if its full there is more parking about 500m east along Bramshill Road. The stall will be sited next to the car park.

Both Natural England and Forestry England will be running their own activities, with FE leading guided walks.


Screenshot 2021 07 24 225025

Habitat Management at St John's Churchyard New Alresford

Sat 20th November, 2021 - Sat 20th November, 2021

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Habitat Management at St John's Churchyard New Alresford. SO24 9AG

20 Nov 2021
10am - 1pm

Please bring loppers, bow saw, gardening gloves for the brambles, snack, drink, waterproof clothing.

Cheap Pay and Display parking at Station Road Car Park SO24 9JL

Crassula Bashula III: Revenge of the Pith

Sun 21st November, 2021

The Crassula is back (Boo, hiss), but our attempts have had some impact, particularly where we have followed up with spot checks.

This is going to be a long and arduous trek to control this plant, but we will will beat it back a much as we can.

The Crassula has also invited its Bur-reed pals to the party, so we aim to start taking out some of this as well. As said before, this is an ongoing event, so episode IV will be planned towards the end on Nov, start of Dec.

Bring buckets/garden trugs, shovels, hand trowels/forks, work gloves (preferably waterproof), wellies a drink and something to eat.

Meet at the village green and park along Tylney Lane towards the Old House at Home pub. 


Advice Note 4: Amphibian Disease Precautions: A Guide for UK Fieldworkers

Habitat Management 2, Drove End Ringwood Forest

Sat 27th November, 2021

A joint event with DARN. Clearing birch and pine from heather with hand tools. Please bring drink, snack, gloves, loppers and bow saw - some tools will be available. We look forward to seeing you there!

Meet at 10am at Drove End Forestry England Car Park, Harbridge Drove, BH24 3PX, near Alderholt. Event finishes at 1pm

Yateley Common Sunday Conservation Volunteers

Sun 28th November, 2021 - Sun 28th November, 2021

Join the Sunday Conservation Volunteers to help carry out winter scrub cutting on Yateley Common and help to conserve and maintain the open Heathland habitat. The group meet 10-1 on the last Sunday of every month. Locations vary so please contact northern.sites@hants.gov.uk for more information

Zoom Meeting: Amphibian season 2022 overview - 05/01/22 @ 7pm

Wed 5th January, 2022

We hope everyone has had a good Christmas.

We are starting to prepare for 2022 and thought we would open up our Amphibian "Dip in" sessions to everyone to give an update on our plans for the next few months.

Join us for details on:

Toad patrols
Spawn spotting
Training (for beginners and intermediates)

Topic: HIWARG Amphibian Dip In
Time: Jan 5, 2022 07:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 839 6378 1221
Passcode: 399728

Crassula Bashula: HIWARG Strikes Back

Sat 23rd July, 2022

9am to 12.30pm

Tylney Lane, Newnham, Hook RG27 9AJ

Event details:https://fb.me/e/5yEh4mF8T


This hot weather may be shortening the amphibian survey season somewhat, but it is giving us an early stab at beating back the invasive non-native Crassula helmsii at this important pond with five species of amphibians.

No experience necessary as I will give a full briefing before we start. The more volunteers we have on the day, the bigger effect we will have.

I have made this event slightly earlier than usual for work event so we hopefully get the coolest part of the day. We will be working slowly and methodically as accuracy and attention to detail is much more important than a hack and slash approach.

I will provide refreshments and a gazebo to get us through the session, but feel free to bring your own. We are right next to a village pub so can 'debrief' there afterwards if anyone fancies that 🙂

water/drinks to keep yourself hydrated
sun hat
comfortable, but sensible footwear for a practical activity (trainers are OK, but no open toe/back footwear)
some kneeling may be involved, so kneepads/mats will be useful
shovels/spade, rakes*
work gloves (waterproof)*
buckets/garden trugs etc for moving small loads of waste*
snacks/something to eat


*Please make sure that your footwear and tools have been cleaned and disinfected before and after the event as per biosecurity guidelines:
1. Use brush to scrub off any debris, plant fragments, mud
2. Rinse with water (pond water will suffice).
3. Soak in 4% bleach solution for at least 5 minutes, or Virkon for at least one minute (5 minutes where Bsal is
4. Rinse with clean water.
5. If possible, allow to dry for before next use.
6. Keep field equipment inside plastic bags during transit and storage (after thorough drying) to reduce the
chance of transmitting pathogens.


Meet at the village green and park along Tylney Lane towards the Old House at Home pub. If we get a few people attending, I will direct parking as appropriate.

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                                                              

pdfHIWARG Safeguarding Policy and Protocols June 2020

Buddy System/Lone Working Procedures

pdfARG UK Generic Risk Assessment July2020


Identification Guides

Amphibian Identification - downloadable colour cards

Newt Eggs & Larvae - downloadable colour cards  

Reptile Identification - downloadable colour cards

Non-Native Species ID Sheets (NNSS Website)

Alien Amphibian and Reptile Species in the UK


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

pdfDARN's 'Slow Worms in Churchyards' project

pdf'Amphibians & Reptiles on Allotments' Introduction Leaflet

pdf"Spawn Spotters" presentation 12 Jan 2021

pdfToad Patrol presentation 12 Jan 2021

pdfGotta 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



pdfUsing GPX files with ViewRanger

pdfFixing 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.

Latest News

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