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?
Any self respecting group would not be complete without a snappy logo, so thanks to Vicky Buller who’s creative lizard design was voted as the best by DRAG members. Well done and thanks Vicky!
DRAG membership is free! However, we are looking to charge a small fee/donation for our events to cover the costs of promotional materials, equipment or room hire for events.
A Membership Secretary is still required though Paul Forshaw has kindly volunteered to be our data base manager. Please send Paul (firstname.lastname@example.org) your contact details for our database to ensure you are included when new events are released, not all our events are advertised on the web.
Volunteers are always welcome to help with surveys and/or any other aspect of running DRAG and events. We want your ideas!Mabel Cheung
Since 1994 the sand lizard (or Lacerta agilis agilis to give it its scientific name) has quietly enjoyed the sand and marram tussocks of Dawlish Warren’s dunes. An open secret since the release of around 40 adults at Warren Point, it has slowly spread along the sandspit. But how far has it spread?
On Sunday 17th April a small band of DRAG members bravely turned out (in perfect weather) to help me find out. As at least half of the group hadn’t seen a sand lizard before, our first job was to find a suitably obliging individual prepared to gawped at by an over excited group of herpers!
Luckily we quickly came across a superb male, who proceeded to trot up and down in front of the assembled team (and a large loud family group) showing off his vivid green flanks and giving the impression it was going to be a walk in the park! Sadly the first part of the walk proved to be an exercise in me saying “ah there is often one here...” and “hmm perhaps it too hot...” The limited sightings of females and common lizards could have been an identification pitfall for the survey to come had it not been for the thoughtful provision of some ID pictures (thanks Stephen!).
And so to the survey. After a brief scuffle, the site was portioned up and pairs of surveyors set off to various parts of the site with instructions to record all lizards seen. I can now reveal that…….I haven’t fully collated the results but at least 11 individual sand lizards were seen, which is pretty good considering how hot is was but the middle of the day (thermometer in my car read 18 degrees centigrade).
Thank you all that took part I will produce a master map and email out to everyone. For those that saw it I guess the highlight was the pair of males fighting or the pair in courtship mode (both along a stretch of the path we’d all just walked along!).
I understand a lot more people wanted to come on the event and I hope we can run one later in year. In the mean time if you are visiting the Warren, do call into the visitor centre and one of the Rangers will point you in the right direction.
Steve Ayres, Ranger, Dawlish Warren NNR
“Wednesday 9th February until Saturday 12th March. 32 days. Commitment 18:15hrs until 21:15hrs involving a minimum of 5/6 persons nightly.
It came very much of a surprise when a small number of toads were spotted on Wednesday evening the 9th February. Numbers increased for two or three nights but as usual weather conditions played their part and there followed a break of several days. Activity increased once more but yet again there were breaks and the exercise finally came to a close on Saturday 12th March by which time we had achieved creditable results. 1257 toads, 9 frogs, 27 newts, and 52 fatalities.
Thanks are due to the Ebford faithful and some very welcome newcomers who approached the exercise with good humour, commitment and patience despite the disappointment on some evenings when numbers collected were very low. Assistance was forthcoming from nearby villages of Clyst St. George, Clyst St. Mary, Woodbury followed by Exeter, Exmouth, Crediton and Honiton. Without this help we could not have coped and my grateful thanks go to these volunteers who travelled many miles to support us and so kept losses to a minimum. On occasions an hour of searching on a soulless and miserable evening provided a reward of 3 toads but on other occasions a pick-up in excess of 50 was achieved.”
Dick and Suzanne Downer
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 email@example.com.
How do I join?
If you would like to become a member please send your request by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.