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There are six native species of reptile found in the UK, all protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). All six species are protected from intentional killing and injury. All six reptile species are also species of principal importance under the Natural Environment Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006. The six UK reptile species include: common lizard sand lizard, slow worm, adder, grass snake, and smooth snake.
Sand lizards and smooth snakes are rare, and their breeding sites and resting places are also protected under Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations Schedule 2 (2017). However, these two species are rarely encountered on development sites. Populations of smooth snakes are mainly found in Dorset, Hampshire, and Surrey, and have been reintroduced to West Sussex and Devon. Populations of sand lizards are mainly found in Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, and Merseyside and have been reintroduced to other areas in the southeast, south west and Wales. Any impact on sand lizards or smooth snake would require a licence.
The other four reptile species (adder, grass snake, common lizard, and slow worm) are widespread and are often encountered on development sites. No licences are required for these four reptiles, but care still needs to be taken to ensure that are not killed or harmed.
Ideal habitat for reptiles is rough grassland, scrub area, hedges and woodland edges. If you have these habitats on site, then you are likely to need a reptile survey.
Phlorum is able to carry out presence/absence surveys, population estimates, and design and implement suitable mitigation to ensure an efficient and successful result for the client and for the reptiles
The survey period for reptiles is from April to September but hot weather in July and August could make these months sub-optimal for surveying.
Reptile survey methods involve searching for basking animals in natural hotspots (e.g. wood piles, earth banks, stone) but also by introducing artificial refuges (e.g. corrugated tiles, carpet tiles, or roofing felt). Several survey visits take place over a period of time to get an accurate representation of any potential reptiles on site.
Suitable mitigation can differ greatly depending on the site and reptile populations but can vary from phased vegetation clearance and habitat enhancement to translocation of reptile populations.