Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group (DRAG)
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About Us

** Please note: This website is currently under construction and some resources maybe temporarily missing. **


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


Common Lizard


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 using the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group (DRAG) website (under the 'Record a sighting' tab) or by visiting
  • 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



Snake-spotting in Dorset named one of Britain’s travel highlights in new guide

Posted on Saturday 3rd November, 2012

Ecological connections: a case study of common frog migration in the Eastern Carpathians

Posted on Monday 22nd October, 2012

Hi all,

I thought you might be interested in the following, with an article on common frogs. You may have to copy and paste the weblink below.  Enjoy!


La Cañada 28:
Newsletter of the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism, Autumn 2012.


Volume 28 is now available online at

  • ‘Greening’ the CAP for permanent pastures
  • Butterfly monitoring with BCE
  • UK seminar on High Nature Value farming policy
  • Wildfire prevention: a reason for promoting pastoralism in Spain
  • Subsidies harmful to biodiversity: how does the CAP measure up?
  • Farmers to train conservation professionals
  • Difficulties forseen for Basic Payments on common pastures
  • Ecological connections: a case study of common frog migration in the Eastern Carpathians
  • Mixed messages from EU institutions on 2020 biodiversity strategy
  • From the Forum

DRAG planning meeting, Tuesday 18th September 2012

Posted on Thursday 20th September, 2012
We were really pleased to have a good turnout of 12 keen DRAG members at our DRAG planning meeting on Tuesday, including some very welcome new faces!  We ran through the past spring/summer’s events and, although events and activities were organised in a bit of an ad hoc manner, we organised and/or attended at least 10  successful events  throughout the county - although the weather didn't help much.  These varied from guided walks, family educational activities to survey training events.    We also have two shiny new committee members in the form of Kim Leaver and Toby Palmer who are both very experienced and knowledgeable reptile and amphibian enthusiasts who I’m sure will help give DRAG organisation a much needed boost.  Without going into detail, we hope to continue to run similar events/activities next year, and plan ahead for winter pond habitat management, toad patrols, amongst other things.  If you want to help organise an event or muck in with clearing ponds please get in touch! Our minutes will soon be available and will be either emailed or posted on the website in due course.

Mabel Cheung


Newcomers get good reptile sightings despite weather

Posted on Monday 6th August, 2012

With the landowner's permission, Kim and I did a survey yesterday (near to a smooth snake release site) and, considering the torrential conditions, we had a very good day. We got very wet but found all the tins plus the fifth one at the last location. We saw nine slow worms under four different tins and had one lovely female adder. Unfortunately I hadn't got the camera out for the adder so I missed an opportunity there. I photographed all the slow worms and I attach one of a very pregnant female, see Photo Gallery.  Even in bad weather reptiles are about!




Smooth snake survey

Posted on Monday 23rd July, 2012
We were pleased to finally have good weather on the day for our smooth snake survey - in fact, it was probably too good!  The warm and sunny warm weather (over 20oC) probably reduced our chances of finding any reptiles - so we were pleased to find one lone female adder!  Phil Clinch has kindly provided a picture in our Photo Gallery (along with a picture of a grass snake and slow worm from under a tin in his garden). 

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, the RSPB and Natural England have worked together to reintroduce the smooth snake, Britain's rarest snake, back to Devon.  The aim of yesterday's survey was to recruit more keen DRAG volunteers to help with the on-going smooth snake surveys.  Unfortunately, no smooth snakes were encountered on this occasion but the surveys will continue.  Thanks to those who came along and volunteered their help.  Thanks also to Toby Taylor (RSPB) for showing us around the site and Toby Palmer who, along with Chris Howard, have been doing a sterling job with the surveys.  Our new DRAG volunteers will be able to enhance the survey effort and, hopefully, be rewarded by a glimpse of these beautiful but rare creatures.

Mabel Cheung



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Introduction to Reptile Identification and Surveying


Adder Bites - Helpful Links

Facts and Advice

NHS Advice


Dogs and Adders

Dogs 'n' Adders - Information Leaflet


Snakes in Gardens

Snakes are fascinating creatures and for many, finding one in the garden is a real treat and a memorable experience.

However, for many others this can be a disconcerting and even worrying situation. This can be as a result of misunderstandings often fed by negative and often inaccurate media reports and rumours. Please be assured, though, that there is no reason to worry and that these situations can be resolved fairly easily.

The vast majority of reported snake sightings in gardens turn out to be either a Grass Snake or a Slow worm (a legless lizard which resembles a snake). Both species are harmless and are best left alone.

We only have one venomous snake species, the Adder, which is rarely found in gardens unless your property is situated close to favourable habitat. Even then, the adder is a very shy animal and avoids human activity whenever it can. Again, the best course of action is to leave it alone and allow it to move off when it’s ready. The likelihood is that it is just passing through anyway.

Occasionally, DRAG gets asked about relocating snakes. For all kinds of practical reasons this isn’t something we would do and would actually be the opposite of what our group encourages which is reptile conservation.

The best recommendation we can provide is to learn as much as possible about the reptile you have seen in your garden. We will happily help you identify it and provide related advice such as understanding which features of your garden have likely attracted it in the first place.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch and send a photo or description of the snake to or to our Facebook group at

It would really help if you could record your sighting on Record Pool either using the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group (DRAG) website (under the 'Record a sighting' tab) or by visiting

Please remember that reptiles are protected under UK law.

Species Guides

Species Guides

Devon's Reptiles

In the UK we have 6 native reptile species, each of which can be found in Devon.

To find out more about a particular species click on it's name which will then jump to the relevant information.


Adder Vipera berus

Grass Snake (or Barred Grass Snake) Natrix helvetica

Smooth Snake Coronella austriaca

Slow Worm Anguis fragilis

Viviparous (or Common) Lizard Zootoca vivipara

Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis


Devon's Amphibians

In the UK we have 7 native amphibian species, 6 of which can be found in Devon.

To find out more about a particular species click on it's name which will then jump to the relevant information.


Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus)

Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)

Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus)

Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita)

Common Frog (Rana temporaria)



Adder Vipera berus


For information on the adder please click on the fact sheet link in blue or you can watch the animated video below.

Adder Factsheet



Grass Snake Natrix helvetica



We've all seen them right, often in large numbers early in the year in even the smallest bodies of water ..... but what are tadpoles? 

Tadpoles are the larval stage in the life cycle of an amphibian.  In the UK the tadpoles we most often encounter will belong to the Common frog (Rana temporaria) or Common toad (Bufo Bufo).

Amphibians go through several stages before reaching their adult form.  This incredible process is known as metamorphosis.  Below is a video showing in detail how this process takes place.



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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