A successful summer for Reptile Rambles

With the reopening of Parc Slip Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre back in May, a busy events programme began on the nature reserve, including such activities as bumblebee walks with Bumblebee Conservation Trust, wildflower walks and bat walks. But undoubtedly the most popular activity that took place over the summer this year at Parc Slip were the weekly Reptile Rambles, which took place every Wednesday morning.

Reptile Ramble by Rose Revera

Reptile Ramble by Vaughn Matthews

Reptiles are one of the most overlooked animal groups in the UK, with their secretive behaviour making them very hard to spot unless you know where to look. We are very lucky at Parc Slip to have thriving populations of four of our native reptiles; grass snake, adder, common lizard and slow worm. The walks took visitors out onto the reserve on the lookout for reptiles (and other species too!) and visited areas of the reserve that are usually off limits to the public for research purposes. Here we checked reptile refugia (‘tins’) in order to monitor our reptile populations and to allow people fantastic sightings of these secretive animals. Reptile refugia are sheets of corrugated roofing felt that provide attractive conditions for reptiles to warm up under or on top of, so they are a great way of increasing your chance of seeing reptiles. There are 120 of these on the reserve that are used during our reptile and amphibian surveys.

Over the course of the summer, from May to September, just over 200 people came along on the Reptile Rambles and 323 reptiles and amphibians were sighted. This included 153 grass snakes, 62 adders, 45 slow worm, 29 common lizards, 29 great crested newt and 7 toads. Parc Slip has large wetland areas within the reserve and the study areas include some wet grassland fields that are ideal for grass snakes, which feed primarily on amphibians. This could explain why a high number of grass snakes were seen and potentially why we didn’t see many toads! 

The Reptile Rambles have been my favourite activity this year, as not only do I get to see these amazing creatures in the wild every week, but I also get to share the experience with enthusiastic visitors who may never have seen a British snake or lizard before. So thank you to everyone who came along this year and I hope you enjoyed it!

Slow worm

Slow worm by Peter

The Reptile Rambles have now stopped for the winter as the reptiles will shortly be going into      hibernation. We will begin the Reptile Rambles again in the Spring as the weather warms– keep an eye on the events list on the website.