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:
How do we achieve this?
Thanks to Steve for leading a successful sand lizard survey and walk for DRAG members. Please check out the Gallery for Stacey Thew’s cracking photos. If you want to hear about walks and events, please email us to be added to the DRAG email list on email@example.com.
Please see our Gallery for shots from our great crested newt training sessions and recent surveys.
Although we have just passed the peak of the survey season for great crested newts, or ‘Cresties’ as they are affectionately known, we would still be keen to hear about new sites where they occur. In particular, we’d love to hear from landowners who are able to let us survey their sites.
Please forward the location, post code and date for the sightings (plus your contact details) to DBRC preferably by email DBRC@dbrc.org.uk (or call 01392 274128). There is also an online recording form at http://www.dbrc.org.uk/. Click the ‘Send us your wildlife records' box on the left-hand side of the screen.
Where better to run a great crested newt training course than in Newt-on Abbot?! Thanks to Nicky Green (Green Ecology) for organising the comprehensive indoor and outdoor training course and Stephen Carroll (Teignbridge District Council) for his policy talk and providing the venue and to the enthusiastic attendees. Funds raised by the course will go towards DRAG and great crested newt surveys to improve our knowledge of their distribution in Devon. Many of the attendees have kindly volunteered to survey for great crested newts this spring to verify previous sightings and find new sites. As great crested newts are most active during the darkest hours of the night, it is believed they are perhaps just under recorded and may be more widespread than previously thought.
We were very lucky with the weather and attendees put their new skills to the test with positive results. We managed to find signs of breeding great crested and palmate newts, such as eggs within folded leaves. The newts in their aquatic breeding phase were well adapted to move quickly through the water. At night we waited patiently to get a glimpse of newts coming up for air at the water’s surface and some were lucky to get views of newts doing their underwater courtship dance. With Nicky as our licensed trainer, we were able to catch great crested newts and learn how best to handle these delicate creatures. On the second weekend we caught two females and two males and were able to gently turn them over to behold their striking orange and black bellies – which are like fingerprints unique to each individual.
If you think you have seen a great crested newt (see the photos in our Photo Gallery and our ‘Wanted poster’) please forward the location, post code and date of the sightings (plus your contact details) to the Devon Biodiversity Record Centre preferably by email DBRC@dbrc.org.uk (or call 01392 274128). There is also an online recording form at http://www.dbrc.org.uk/. Click the ‘Send us your wildlife records' box on the left-hand side of the screen.
Thanks to all who attended the AGM!
We had a good turn out, for the AGM proper and the great crested newts (GCN) meeting. Headline notes were that we still need keen volunteers to help with organising DRAG such as Events Officer and Secretary. We also discussed the toads project and GCNs. At the moment, DRAG has not charged either membership fees and, rarely, for events. There was some discussion on whether this should change as DRAG has a poor income stream which puts the Group at a disadvantage for future events and conservation projects. We are also looking at improving DRAG web presence, such as setting up a Facebook page.
A big thanks to Tracey Hamston and Living Coasts for organising the venue. We benefitted from a lunchtime grand tour of the site, met chough, rays, seahorses and seals and learnt about some of their captive breeding successes, eg for penguins.
I'm looking forward to another year of surveys and events - and hope to see you there!
Please get in touch if you want to help volunteer or find out more.
My colleague in RSPB forwarded this important email to me last week. If you care about our top nature conservation sites please take action now to stop George Osborne's proposals to weaken the laws to protect them. Sites of international wildlife importance in Devon include Braunton Burrows, Exe Estuary, Dawlish Warren, East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, Culm Grasslands, Dartmoor, Plymouth Sound and Estuaries, South Hams, amongst many others. These are home to many rare plants and animals, including sand lizards, great crested newts, dormice, greater horseshoe bats and birds. Many wildlife conservation organisations, including the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC), the Wildlife Trusts and RSPB have signed up to the Wildlife Link letter below to stop the proposals, see link below. If you want to take action yourself to let George Osborne know what you think of his plans please follow the RSPB campaign links below, it only takes five minutes!
DRAG Publicity Officer
"You are hopefully aware of the risk to the Habitats Regulations, one of the critical pieces of legislation that protects our natural heritage from bad development. George Osborne referred to them as “gold-plated” and a “ridiculous cost on British business” in his autumn budget statement, and there is now a growing movement to review and weaken them.
Well the Chancellor’s spring budget statement will be issued on 21 March, and this is your chance to directly email Mr Osborne to ask him to put the environment at the heart of our economic recovery.
To do this is easy - just go (http://www.rspb.org.uk/savingspecialplaces/index.aspx), fill in your email details, and follow the simple template. It took me just 5 minutes.
If everyone of us took this one single step, imagine what an impact we could have...one powerful team for nature! Spread this to our supporters and colleagues out there, and we will be one big voice for nature.
So please, take 5 minutes to do this now, and 5 minutes to persuade 5 others to do it to. We are all busy, but the stakes have rarely been higher.
"PS: over 30 of you wrote or emailed your MPs before Christmas on this subject, some of you wrote articles in local magazines, and many encouraged friends and family to lobby too. Thank you all, a brilliant effort! And if you want to see the collective response to Defra by Wildlife Link (the partnership of 21 wildlife NGOs), see (http://www.wcl.org.uk/docs/Link_response_to_Nature_Directives_060212.pdf). Once more unto the breach, dear friends..."
Duration: 2 weeks
Date: Wednesday 9th June 2021 - Wednesday 30th June 2021
Level: Introductory (No previous knowledge required)
Tutor: Dr John Wilkinson
Course Provider: FSC (Field Studies Council) Eco-Skills
Booking Deadline: Monday 7th June (9am)
Begin your journey into the world of amphibians and reptiles with this combined introductory course. This course will enable you to identify the key characteristics, life cycles and conservation status of these two critical species.
This is a 2-week online course covering 2 topics, for which you will complete a variety of online resources and activities. Each topic is then concluded with an interactive Zoom workshop to complement the content.
Week 1: Introduction to Amphibians
Self-study material available: 09/06/21
Week 1 live webinar: 16/06/2021 at 6:00 pm
Week 2: Introduction to Reptiles
Self-study material available: 16/06/2021
Week 2 live webinar: 23/06/2021 at 6:00 pm
The final deadline to complete any outstanding activities and self-study components is 30/06/2021.
Time commitment: This course will require approximately 2-3 hours of your time each week. This includes covering course materials on our Moodle learning platform and the Zoom session.
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC)
Introduction to Reptile Identification and Surveying
Adder Bites - Helpful Links
Dogs and Adders
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.
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 https://www.recordpool.org.uk.
Please remember that reptiles are protected under UK law.
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.
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.
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.
Drop us a line and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I join?
If you would like to become a member please send your request by email to email@example.com.
Answer: Membership is free to join.
Answer: Currently, membership is on a rolling annual basis.
Answer: No. There are no prerequisites, nor is there any minimum level of commitment required.
Answer: Yes. Whilst volunteering makes a big difference to what we do, we totally understand that not everyone’s circumstances allow for it.
Answer: You can cancel your membership at any time by sending your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.