Snakes have no external ear, so hear by resting their jaw on the ground. Their inner ear is connected to their lower jaw. The vibrations that travel through the ground even allow snakes to pinpoint their prey.
While they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, reptiles are fascinating. They are like miniature dinosaurs, hidden in our woods and heaths. It would be quite easy to go years without seeing one. Last week I attended a training session that will hopefully help me get better at spotting them.
The training was organised by the Surrey Amphibians and Reptiles Group (SARG), designed to introduce people to Britain’s native reptiles, and how to survey them. (Incidentally, if you were surveying reptiles, what would you ask them?)
Britain is home to 3 types of snake (grass snakes, adders and smooth snakes) and 3 lizards (common lizards, slow worms and sand lizards). In addition there are small populations of non-native reptiles including red-eared terrapins and aesculapian snakes in certain parts of the country.
Surveys of reptiles are important for helping to inform land management, and other efforts to protect reptiles. SARG have an excellent website which allows owners of survey sites to see up-to-date information about where reptiles are on their land.
I have yet to see a reptile in Surrey, but have seen adders and lizards a few times along the South West Coast Path. We’re just coming up to the best time of year to see reptiles. I’m looking forwards to testing my new knowledge, and seeing if I can spot some in the next few weeks.
If you’re interested in reptiles you might like to look at the ARG website, which contains details about local reptiles groups across the country.