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 https://www.recordpool.org.uk.
  • 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

News

News

Upcoming Talk

Posted on Monday 15th February, 2016
Wed 13 April 2016 7.30pm £3
Cowick Barton pub, 121 Cowick Lane, Exeter
Talk by Dan Eatherley
Bushmaster: hunt for the world's largest viper
 
Dan Eatherley, Exeter-based writer, environmental consultant and former wildlife filmmaker gives a special talk based on his new book published Summer 2015: Bushmaster: Raymond Ditmars and the Hunt for the World’s Largest Viper.
Bushmaster is the story of one man’s obsession with an enigmatic and deadly reptile. Raymond Ditmars (1876-1942), the first curator of reptiles at New York’s world-famous Bronx Zoo, popularised cold-blooded animals as never before. His love for snakes, insects and other misunderstood creatures was conveyed in books, lectures, and pioneering motion pictures. But his expeditions to the South America jungles during the 1930s in search of the legendary bushmaster – the world’s largest viper – really captured the public imagination. In Bushmaster the author follows in Ditmars’s footsteps and attempts to achieve what Ditmars himself failed to do: find a bushmaster in the wild. Eighty years on, will Dan have any more luck? And will a bushmaster find him first?
 
 

Reptile Training Oppourtunity

Posted on Monday 28th April, 2014

Nicky Green is leading a Reptile Survey Training Day for the East Devon District Council on Friday 9th May, between 10am and 4.30pm

Details:

Spend a day in the company of Nicky Green, experienced ecologist and Chair of the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group, learning about reptile ecology and survey methods. Using the Axe Estuary Wetlands near Seaton and nearby heathland sites, we will carry out a survey and hopefully see some reptiles. This day will be suitable for interested adults and those requiring training in this field.

Cost £20. Booking essential as places are limited. Call 01395 517557 or email Countryside@eastdevon.gov.uk


DRAG great crested newt training courses delivers the goods

Posted on Thursday 23rd May, 2013

Both great crested newt training courses over the past fortnight ran successfully.  The course provided valuable training for surveyors building up experience to gain a survey licence.  We hope that our newly trained surveyors can contribute to our knowledge of the distribution of this beautiful and rare species.  Funds raised by the course go towards DRAG conservation work and awareness raising activities.

Please go to the Photo Gallery for Alex Sam's excellent photos from the training days (photos will be available shortly).

Unfortunately, DRAG does not have the resources or staff to undertake a great crested newt survey project this year.  However, DBRC holds a list of Devon sites with suspected great crested newt records that need confirmation.  If you have a great crested newt surveyor licence and want to undertake surveys of such sites, or ponds that you feel may support this species, please contact DBRC to volunteer your help. All information gathered, including surveyed 'vacant sites', can help to build a better picture of the distirbution of this species and help to target conservation efforts.

 


Sand lizard summary and pics

Posted on Thursday 9th May, 2013

Thanks again to Steve for leading another successful sand lizard survey and walk for DRAG members.  The sun was on our side and all surveyors got excellent views of at least three males in breeding colours, a rotund female and a cryptic coloured yearling less than 5cm in length.  There was a male guarding his female for most of the morning, no doubt 'protecting' her from the male just three metres away.  The pair seemed very relaxed sunbathing amongst some nettles despite being close to a busy footpath. 

Please check out the Gallery for sand lizard photos from our unoffical event photographer Neil Harris.  If you want to hear about walks and events, please email us to be added to the DRAG email list on devonrag@hotmail.com.

Mabel Harris


At last, the reptile survey season has begun!

Posted on Tuesday 23rd April, 2013

After an exceptionally long wait for spring to arrive, keen DRAG volunteers Phil and Andrea Clinch, Kim Leaver and the Conservation Officer for Clinton Estates found a good number of reptiles in the East Devon area on Sunday 21st April.  15 slow worms, six common lizards and one adder were found in one survey despite air temperatures at 10 degrees with a cool breeze.  After many cancelled and postponed 'spring' amphibian and reptile surveys we are glad that spring has finally arrived!

If you are interested in joining surveys, events or conducting your own survey (eg reptile survey as part of a college research project), please get in touch!

 


Events

Events

Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

Ideford Common Reptile Ramble 9:30-11am

Sun 5th June, 2011

Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group Walk. Join an informal ramble across the heath to look for snakes and lizards, plus newts and toads. Teignbridge Countryside Ranger, Neil Harris, will introduce us to this special heathland site with spectacular views across to Dartmoor.

Outdoor wear and sensible walking shoes/boots and long trousers recommended as walking through knee-high vegetation over 'uneven' terrain.

Free event. Limited numbers, please book in advance. For further information contact devonrag@hotmail.com or call 01626 335412.


DRAG @ Bioblitz at Burrator Arboretum

Sat 13th August, 2011

South West Lakes Trust are holding a 'Bioblitz' day at Burrator to find out what flora and fauna inhabit this wetland paradise. All are welcome to join in with the fun, the more the merrier! DRAG members will be there to help with the reptile and amphibian search and we are hoping to get to see the animals up close. The day's events run from 10am – 4pm. Details to be confirmed...

Timings:

Reptiles survey session: 11.45am – 12.45pm - possible slow worms

Pond dipping session: 1.30pm – 2.30pm or 3pm – 4pm (times to be confirmed) - possible newts, frogs and toads.

Bat session: 8pm

For more info go to: http://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/events/1748


DRAG Meeting at DWT Emsworthy Nature Reserve, near Haytor

Sat 24th September, 2011

We will be holding our last meeting of the season at DWT’s newest Nature Reserve, Emsworthy near Haytor on Dartmoor, on Sat 24th September. Please meet at 10.30 am in the 2nd Saddle Tor car park as you go from Haytor, Grid reference (car park) = SX 748 762. We will be hosted by Andrew Taylor, voluntary warden, and hopefully the previous site owner. Afterwards is an optional social beer/lunch at the fabulous Rugglestone Inn nearby.

Please let me know if you would like to come.
Nicky Green CEnv MIEEM DRAG Chair
Telephone: 01626 834422
Email: nicky@green-ecology.co.uk


South West Regional Conference ARG

Sat 10th December, 2011

DRAG are proud to host this year's South West ARG's annual conference.

Join DRAG for a day of presentations and seminars, plus a quiz, raffle, poster presentations and stalls. The event will be held at the Coaver Club, County Hall, Matford Lane, Exeter, Devon County Council, EX2 4PS from 9.15am-4pm.

Presentations include: -

- Surveying for reptiles using refugia: an assessment of current survey standards, by Vicky Buller

-Troubling Identities: Initial evidence for a successful translocation of the Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis) by Alex Sams

- The Million Ponds project: lessons from the first three years by David Orchard

- Making the adder count in South West England by Jon Cranfield (ARG UK )

- Devon’s great crested newts: efforts to conserve an elusive population by Nicky Green and Julia Clark

- Lunchtime seminar: ‘Raising the profile of reptiles in the South West’ facilitated by Jon Cranfield

£20 per person for ARG members or unwaged, £35 otherwise. £5 off ARG member bookings made before 15th November. Price includes lunch and refreshments. Booking essential.

For a booking form contact Ellie Knott on 01392 274128 (daytimes) or 01392 679222 (evenings) or eknott@devonwildlifetrust.org 2011 to ensure your place.

Scientific posters and vendors welcome, also please arrange in advance with Ellie.


LEAP, WALK & TALK - REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN TOUR @ PAIGNTON ZOO

Wed 29th February, 2012

6.30 - 9.00 pm (approx.)

Join us on a guided tour of our fascinating Reptile Tropics and Crocodile Swamp and get exclusive behind the scenes access in Amphibian Ark.

Enjoy this rare chance to meet some of the experienced keepers and experts in reptile and amphibian conservation and a special opportunity to ask questions and find out how we care for these animals.

Also enjoy a cheese and wine reception, a presentation by Curator Mike Bungard and Q & A session with the experts.

Tickets: £12.00 non-members / £10.00 members

Limited space available. To book please telephone 0844 474 222

This is a fundraising event and all proceeds will be used to support the conservation charity work at Paignton Zoo.

Many thanks in advance

Samantha Branch nee Mudge

Marketing Manager

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park


DRAG AGM at Living Coasts, Torquay

Sat 10th March, 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


Great Crested Newt training courses

Fri 23rd March, 2012

Dear DRAG members

I am running two great crested newt survey courses this year. Both will be based at Decoy allotments, Newton Abbot, with classroom sessions at nearby Forde House (Teignbridge Council Offices).

The courses will cover the ecology of GCNs, survey techniques and conservation and will include field visits to carry out Habitat Suitability Index assessments and demonstrate survey methods including egg search, torching and bottle trapping. Decoy supports all three species of newt and has good numbers of GCNs, so a sighting is guaranteed!!

Both courses will commence at 2pm on a Friday afternoon with a classroom session, followed by a field visit to carry out HSI and egg search and set bottle traps. We will then go to a local pub for dinner and return to the site for torching at 10pm. The next day we will empty the bottle traps and depart.

The first course is on Fri 23rd – Sat 24th March and is exclusively for people who wish to volunteer for our GCN survey programme. The cost is £50 which will be refunded providing the volunteer undertakes a minimum of 15 hours survey work for DRAG.

The second course is Fri 30th – Sat 31st March and is aimed at consultants and others seeking to increase their knowledge of GCNs and work towards a NE licence. The content will be along the same lines as the first but will include legislation and mitigation techniques, though it will not be a major component of the course. The cost of this course is £100 and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to DRAG.

Please get in touch if you want to book on either of these courses.

Cheers

Nicky Green Cenv MIEEM

DRAG Chair

nicky@green-ecology.co.uk


Great Crested Newt training courses

Fri 30th March, 2012

Dear DRAG members

I am running two great crested newt survey courses this year. Both will be based at Decoy allotments, Newton Abbot, with classroom sessions at nearby Forde House (Teignbridge Council Offices).

The courses will cover the ecology of GCNs, survey techniques and conservation and will include field visits to carry out Habitat Suitability Index assessments and demonstrate survey methods including egg search, torching and bottle trapping. Decoy supports all three species of newt and has good numbers of GCNs, so a sighting is guaranteed!!

Both courses will commence at 2pm on a Friday afternoon with a classroom session, followed by a field visit to carry out HSI and egg search and set bottle traps. We will then go to a local pub for dinner and return to the site for torching at 10pm. The next day we will empty the bottle traps and depart.

The first course is on Fri 23rd – Sat 24th March and is exclusively for people who wish to volunteer for our GCN survey programme. The cost is £50 which will be refunded providing the volunteer undertakes a minimum of 15 hours survey work for DRAG.

The second course is Fri 30th – Sat 31st March and is aimed at consultants and others seeking to increase their knowledge of GCNs and work towards a NE licence. The content will be along the same lines as the first but will include legislation and mitigation techniques, though it will not be a major component of the course. The cost of this course is £100 and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to DRAG.

Please get in touch if you want to book on either of these courses.

Cheers

Nicky Green Cenv MIEEM

DRAG Chair

nicky@green-ecology.co.uk


Braunton Burrows Guided Walk

Sat 14th April, 2012

Saturday 14th April 11am-3pm

Join Braunton Burrows wildlife expert, John Breeds, for a walk around this stunning world-class Biosphere Reserve. We’ll be looking for frogs, toads, newts and reptiles. We will be looking in the ponds and there will be the option to stay on later to look for great crested newts at 9pm (this will be weather dependant).

Meet in Sandy Lane car park SS463/351. For further information call John on 01271 817349 or email john_breeds@hotmail.com. Suggested donation of £3 for adults.


South West Regional Amphibian and Reptile Groups’ Meeting

Sun 3rd March, 2013

Cornwall College Newquay – Sunday 3rd March 2013

Provisional programme

9.15 to 9.45 Arrival, registration, refreshments

9.45 to 9.50 Welcome and announcements

9.50 to 10.40 Regional round-up (10 minutes per county)

10.40 to 11.00 Short break and refreshments

11.00 to 11.30 Student Invasive Non-Native Group and Nicola Morris: SINNG’s work and biosecurity

11.30 to 12.00 Chris Gleed-Owen: The status of adders in Britain

12.00 to 12.30 Vicky Buller: The Uzungwa Scarp Amphibian Project: hyper-endemic amphibians in a Tanzanian biodiversity hotspot 

12.30 to 1.30 Lunch (and screening of a film by John Butter on Britain’s native reptiles)

1.30 to 2.00 Paul Newman: Adam, Eve and Hissing Sid

2.00 to 2.30 Jon Cranfield: Making your records count

2.30 to 2.45 Short break and refreshments

2.45 to 3.15 Andrew Smart: Sand lizards in Cornwall

3.15 to 3.45 Dave Daversa: Intraseasonal movements and social structure of alpine newts  

3.45 to 4.00 Brief summary discussion, thanks and goodbye

4.00 to 5.00 Refreshments available for anyone wishing to continue informal discussion

Bookings and enquiries

Attendance fee, which also covers lunch and refreshments, is £20 for ARG members and students/unwaged, £35 for others.

Payment must be made in advance, by cheque made out to Cornwall Wildlife Trust, along with a completed booking form.

Forms and cheques to be posted to Mark Nicholson, Barn-Wyn, Marazanvose, Truro, Cornwall, TR4 9DQ.

If you have any enquiries, please email Pete Mycock at newtpete@hotmail.co.uk.

Poster displays, sales etc.

Scientific poster displays with a herpetological theme are welcome. We can also provide facilities for table displays of goods and information. To make arrangements for either of these, please contact Nicola Morris at nicola.morris@cornwall.ac.uk .

Venue details

Cornwall College Newquay, Trenance Gardens, Trenance Park, Newquay, Cornwall, TR7 2LZ

Once you are in Newquay, you should follow signs for Newquay Zoo and Waterworld.

The College is situated behind Newquay Zoo and Waterworld. Drive past the entrance to the zoo and through the car park. The entrance is on the left before you get to the overflow car park. Parking is limited on site but there is free parking available in the main car park at Waterworld and the overflow car park.

Thanks to the organisers and sponsors

This meeting is being jointly organised by CRAG and the Student Invasive Non-Native Group (SINNG) from Cornwall College Newquay.

We are very grateful to the event’s sponsors: Herpetologic Ltd, CGO Ecology Ltd and the College itself.


Resources

Resources

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 devonrag@hotmail.com or to our Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/DevonARG/.

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.

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

 

 

Tadpoles

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.

Membership

Membership

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 devonrag@hotmail.com.

 

How do I join?

If you would like to become a member please send your request by email to devonrag@hotmail.com.

 

FAQ

  • · 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 devonrag@hotmail.com.

 

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:

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Please be patient with us, this email address is not checked every day!


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