Reptile Surveys

Protecting Reptiles Across The UK

All reptiles in the UK live in a narrow range of habitats. If a development is likely to affect these habitats, reptile surveys may be required to assess the impact of the development on the local reptile population. JCA helpful and experienced team of ecologists can guide you through the process.

Survey effort varies depending on the target species. Refuges, such as roofing felt squares or corrugated metal are left on site and periodically visited over the survey season to confirm the absence/presence of reptiles on site. Depending on species, direct observations can also be made to confirm the absence/presence of reptiles. These types of survey are carried out between March-June.

The majority of ecological surveys are seasonally constrained. Use our ecology survey calendar to plan your project timetable and factor in any seasonal constraints to project timescales as early as possible to prevent any delays.

Reptile Surveying and the Law

All six of the UK native reptiles fall under legal protection. Of the six species, the two rarest, smooth snake and sand lizard, are afforded EU protection from the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 under Schedule 2 as well as being protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Under these regulations it is illegal to:

  • Capture, kill, disturb or injure these animals (purposefully or accidentally)
  • Damage or destroy the breeding or resting places (purposefully or accidentally)
  • Obstruct access to the resting or sheltering places (purposefully or accidentally)
  • Possess, sell, control or transport live or dead animal, neither whole specimens nor parts
  • Take or destroy their eggs
  • The other four species, adder, grass snake, slow worm and common lizard, are found under Section 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Under these regulations it is illegal to:
  • Capture, kill, disturb or injure these animals (purposefully or accidentally).
  • Sell, offer or expose for sale any live or dead wild animal.
  • The habitats of common reptile species are not protected, however the precautionary principal must be adhered to, and suitable mitigation and compensation put in place.

Reptile Survey and Report

Once a site has been identified as containing good reptile habitat, up to 7 site visits are required, during optimum conditions to determine presence/absence, population size and species. Reptile surveys will involve visual searches and looking under artificial refugia (1m x 1m squares of roofing felt and corrugated metal). Surveying these species is constrained by the time of year, as well as weather and time of day.

Should reptiles be found, steps must be taken to carefully and safely relocate them to a suitable site away from development. This can be a lengthy process and so identifying the presence of reptiles on your site as soon as possible is crucial. Our reports will aim to determine the presence/absence of reptiles at your site, and should reptiles be found, provide advice and recommendations on how best to proceed with development.