Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group (DRAG)
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About us

About Us

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



DRAG AGM Saturday 10th March Torquay

Posted on Wednesday 29th February, 2012

This years AGM will be held at Living Coasts, Torquay on Saturday 10th March. It will start at 1.30pm with a guided tour of the facility followed by the meeting at 3pm.

There will also be a meeting from 12 – 1pm prior to the tour for those interested in volunteering for this years Great Crested Newt survey programme.

All are welcome!

Nicky Green

Volunteer Toad Patrollers wanted

Posted on Thursday 26th January, 2012


One Volunteer Toad Patrol Coordinator (TPC) and several Volunteer Regional Toad Patrol Officers (RO)


To help monitor and conserve breeding toad populations. Spread the word, collect information on local toad sites, set up warning signage, set up and help toad patrols.  "Local toad populations are seriously threatened each spring when they cross roads to reach their breeding ponds, often on cold wet nights on country lanes.  Mortalities can in some cases lead to entire population losses and are an increasing problem for toads.  In order to improve this situation and assist with toad conservation Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group (DRAG) and Devon Wildlife Trust DWT Local Groups are looking for volunteers to help identify key road crossings and protect toad populations".

TPC: will act as main point of contact for sightings and offers of help, and will be supported by a network of other volunteers including Regional Officers who know about toads in their local areas.

RO: will collect local toad info, assist with setup and running of patrols in their areas and liaise with TPC


TPC:  Good people skills, accurate data handling, use of car to visit sites if necessary.  Liaise with and offer assistance to existing toad patrols if required.  Start up and organize new toad patrols, willing to work at night, in rain, in rural or urban areas, help carry toads across roads.  Good H&S awareness in such situations.  Able to coordinate lots of people and data.  Write up a report at end of the season.  Liaise closely with ROs and DRAG Chair.

RO: Good people skills, accurate data handling, use of car to visit sites if necessary.  Liaise with and offer assistance to existing toad patrols if required.  Start up and organize new toad patrols, willing to work at night, in rain, in rural or urban areas, help carry toads across roads.  Good H&S awareness in such situations.  Able to coordinate lots of people and data.  Liaise closely with TPC.


TPC: Devon-wide
RO: local to their homes


The toad breeding season, Feb-March each year


Nicky Green on email:


Devon-wide and local


SW ARG Conference summary and seasonal greetings

Posted on Sunday 25th December, 2011

Hi all,

Thanks to everyone who helped organise and attend the South West ARG Conference! 

Although I may be slightly biased, as a helper, speaker and attendee, I felt the day was a success and very enjoyable.  I think we can give ourselves a pat on the back!  We’ve also had positive feedback from the other attendees too!  In the end we had 63 people attending and we managed to raise money on the raffle and the DRAG Xmas cards.

We had round-ups of the year’s activities from DRAG, Avon RAG, Cornwall RAG and Somerset ARG.  Everyone has been busy with guided walks, toad patrols and surveys around the region.  These were followed by engaging talks on scientific field studies by Vicky Buller and Alex Sams and John Breeds’ slideshow of a lifetime in conservation.  Jon Cranfield updated us on 'Make the Adder count' and, after lunch, fielded a discussion of how to raise the profile of reptiles and amphibians.  Helen Fearnley highlighted the threats of recreational disturbance on herps; Toby Taylor summed up the smooth snake reintroduction project and David Orchard gave us an insight into the exciting Millennium Ponds Project.  If you want further information on any of these talks please get in touch and we can put you in touch with the relevant speaker.

Photos of the event will be posted onto the photo gallery webpages in due course.

Have a great Christmas and New Year from DRAG!   See our ecard in the photo gallery.  Watch this space for more events and activities in 2012...  Looking forward to seeing you then!

Best wishes

Mabel Cheung

Publicity Officer

Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group


South West ARGs Conference on 10th December is now open for bookings!

Posted on Wednesday 2nd November, 2011
Go to our events page for further details.  Note the special offer for ARG member early birds!

DRAG at the Deadly Day Out at River Dart Country Park

Posted on Tuesday 1st November, 2011
We survived eight manic hours of almost non-stop activity at the Deadly Day Out at River Dart Country Park yesterday.  Even Steve Backshall himself would have struggled to keep up with our fast paced animal demonstrations plus reptile and amphibian themed face-painting.  The Deadly Day Out is a roadshow aimed at primary-aged children and their families, a spin-off from the popular BBCtv programme, to get people out and about to learn about exciting wildlife - even if not all are 'deadly'!  DRAG volunteers Nicky Green and I, were joined by Jon Cranfield from ARG UK and Kate O’Neill, Buglife’s Crayfish Conservation Officer.  In ourvibrant 'Nature Zone' tent we showed people our great crested newt and explained the plight of this rare amphibian, along with introducing people to live alien invaders such as American red signal crayfish and an enormous bullfrog tadpole.  Two rescue corn snakes were met by eager young families as we explained that these unfortunate creatures are often abandoned when people get bored of them as pets - they can live 25years.  We managed to pose for a photo with Steve and other staff for a team photo at the end of the day, to be posted later on our gallery.  By the end of the day, we were told 4,000 people attended the event - I think we met most of them!

Many thanks to Jon for making the link with the BBC so DRAG could attend the event and to Kate for her enthusiastic help too.

Unfortunately, we only found out about the event at short notice so did not publicise it.  If you have primary aged children, you may want to check out the webpage below for future events. Please note children come first and beware of long queues!

Mabel Cheung



Show Past Events

Discovering Amphibians and Reptiles - Online Course / Workshop

Wed 9th June, 2021 - Wed 30th June, 2021

Location: Online

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

Price: £30.00

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. 

Click here for full course details.


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.

Accrediting Agency

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC)




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

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




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!

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