Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group (DRAG)
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About us

About Us

DRAG aims to raise awareness and understanding of the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, in Devon and the UK, through reptile and amphibian recording, and habitat management work. DRAG aims to bring together people with an interest in reptiles and amphibians.

If you would like to find out more about reptiles and amphibians in Devon, ask for advice or want to get involved with events and surveys, please get in touch!

If you are interested in becoming a DRAG member, send us your details so we can add you to our mailing list for exciting events and activities that are not always advertised on the website.



Pond creation at Chudleigh Knighton Heath December 2010

Posted on Monday 11th April, 2011
Thanks to the keen volunteers who gave up their Sunday afternoon, on 10th October, to clear vegetation in the footprint of the new pond for great crested newts. The pond is due to be dug shortly and we will keep you posted on its progress.

Nicky Green

Chytrid fungus December 2010

Posted on Monday 11th April, 2011
In 2008 the Institute of Zoology carried out a nationwide survey of Chytrid fungus in amphibian populations. Embarrassingly only one of the survey sites was in Devon and was recorded positive for the fungus. This survey is being repeated in 2011and we’d like to get as many survey sites as possible this time around. If you have access to a pond or have links to a local nature reserve for example that has ponds, please take part in this survey. The method involves a single site visit in March/April and requires the capture and swabbing of 30 amphibians. If you want to get involved please contact Nicky Green

Nicky Green

DRAG AGM at Paignton Zoo 16th October 2010

Posted on Sunday 27th March, 2011
Thanks to Tracey Hamston and Andrew Bowkett from Paignton Zoo, who hosted our AGM on the 16th October. We had a good turn out with 14 attendees, consisting of scientists, ecologists and people who are just interested in finding out more about our herps.

Curator Mike Bungard gave us an exclusive guided tour of the new amphibian ark, which is an amphibian centre with biosecure collections of endangered species. After ensuring that we had disinfected shoes, donned shoe ‘covers’ and white coats, we explored the new rooms full of vivariums (being careful not to touch anything!) full of newly arrived tropical frogs, toads and caecilians (limbless amphibians that resemble snakes).

It was a sobering thought that many of these endemic animals are not found anywhere else in the world, neither in the wild nor captivity. We also had presentations on reptile translocation by Mabel Cheung and brand new field research on native reptiles by Vicky Buller. The DRAG Constitution was agreed with minor amendments. The AGM minutes have already been distrubuted via email, and are also available on request.  Mabel Cheung

Great Crested Newts at Chudleigh Knighton Heath 2010

Posted on Sunday 27th March, 2011

The ponds at Chudleigh Knighton Heath have been monitored during the newt breeding season to assess if there are any surviving populations of the great crested newt. The great news is that on each occasion GCN’s were found!


Since April until the end of May, six surveys took place on three ponds that are situated on either side of the Chudleigh Knighton road heading towards Bovey Tracey. There is a pond which has previously been checked for the presence of great crested newts (pond one) and two ponds on the other side of the road situated close to a bridal path (ponds two and three). Surveys included searching for eggs, bottle trapping and torch surveying. Either two or all three methods were done on each occasion. We also tested the pH of the water which did vary slightly between the ponds.


Eggs of the GCN were found in pond one but unfortunately not in high numbers. Over time, the ponds became heavily covered with foliage which made it difficult to conduct egg searching and torch surveys. Palmate newts were found in all three of the ponds but mainly in ponds one and two. It was fantastic to find great crested newts in pond one on each occasion via the bottle traps.


The highest count was on the last survey (31st May) where we found three males and one female. The week before another female was caught which had a distinguished mark which allowed us to identify her without handling. This gave us a total population count of a minimum of five adults.


Since the last survey the ponds will continue to be monitored to establish whether the ponds will dry out completely. During the dry spell in June, the ponds water level had dropped by approximately one meter in pond one and had reduced by 0.75m around the edges of ponds two and three. The pH will also continue to be monitored throughout the summer to see if there are any changes.


Sharon Green


DRAG Launch Event 2nd May 2010

Posted on Sunday 27th March, 2011
The glorious sunshine brought out snakes, lizards and visitors to the DRAG launch event at Bovey Heathfield on Sunday the 2nd May 2010.

Thirty people, including families with children, and people who just wanted to find out more about ‘herps,’ an affectionate abbreviation for reptiles and amphibians, came for a guided walk around the Devon Wildlife Trust reserve and take part in children’s activities in the community hut.  

Despite the blazing sun, visitors on the guided walk were rewarded with yellowhammer and Dartford warbler in song, plus an adder and a slow worm making appearances – but these didn’t hang around for long in the heat! In the hut, a palmate newt in a vivarium allowed for visitors to get a close encounter.

Children had the opportunity to draw pictures of what they had seen on the day and look at exhibits such as a snake slough. DRAG volunteers were present throughout the morning to provide information and advice on reptiles and amphibians.  Mabel Cheung



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If you want to join DRAG and our email group, or have a general query, please contact a member of DRAG admin:


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