Friday, 28 August 2009

Alarming decline of Britain’s ‘common’ reptiles and amphibians highlighted by new photographic field guide.

The author of a new field-guide has expressed alarm at the disappearance of amphibians and reptiles from many parts of the countryside, particularly those species once regarded as ‘common’.

Britain’s Reptiles and Amphibians, published by WILDguides, is the first photographic guide to all of the reptile and amphibian species found in Britain and Ireland and features almost 200 photographs of frogs, toads, newts, snakes, lizards, turtles and terrapins.

The guide includes several species whose name includes the word ‘common’, for example the common toad, common lizard and common frog.

“In researching the guide it became clear that the so-called ‘common’ species are now far from common.” said author Howard Inns.

“Species such as the common lizard have disappeared from many sites they once inhabited and many of the people who monitor common toad populations at traditional breeding ponds reported to me that their numbers have crashed in recent years.” he said.

“Common frogs fare well in garden ponds but they too have declined significantly in the wider countryside.”

The guide is a flagship publication for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, a newly formed charity resulting from the merger of Froglife and The Herpetological Conservation Trust.

Howard Inns, also Vice Chairman of Trustees for the charity, commented further: “The conservation efforts focussed on the rarer species of Britain’s reptiles and amphibians have been successful in recent decades.”

"The creation of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation means that more resource and expertise can be brought to bear on understanding why the more widespread species are in decline and preventing today’s ‘common’ species from becoming tomorrow’s rarities.”

The new field-guide Britain’s Reptiles and Amphibians, published by WILDguides, covers the 16 native reptiles and amphibians that breed in Britain, Ireland and the Channel Islands and the 5 marine turtles that visit our seas.

As well as species’ distribution maps the book features introductory sections on their biology and conservation, taxonomy, distinctive life-cycles and the behaviour of each species group.

The field-guide also covers the 15 ‘exotic’ species introduced to the UK deliberately or accidently. In addition it features hints and tips on where, when and how to watch reptiles and amphibians in the wild.

Chris Packham, well known wildlife TV presenter, says of the book in his foreword: “When I flick through its pages I so wish I’d been armed with it when I first began sneaking up on snakes, netting for newts and lunging after lizards.”

To purchase a copy of Britain’s Reptiles and Amphibians for £15.00 (RRP £17.95) visit: or visit:

Proceeds from sales support Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Funding lifeline for newts announced

A small grants scheme, available from September, is aiming to help people improve ponds and habitats for the UK’s great crested newts.

The money will contribute to a number of tasks that benefit great crested newts, such as pond creation schemes, pond management, survey work and local mapping studies.

Distributed by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, the money is available to a wide audience including councils, national parks and wildlife organisations and volunteer groups, including Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK). Schools and community groups are also encouraged to apply.

“Many great crested newt ponds are disappearing in the UK, so the local actions of volunteers and other experts in helping keep these ponds in tip-top condition for newts is really important.” said Dorothy Wright, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s Great Crested Newt Conservation Officer.

“The award is designed to help achieve the targets set out in the UK great crested newt Species Action Plan, which includes survey work and the creation and restoration of ponds and the newts’ terrestrial habitat.”

Groups or individuals can apply for funds typically up to £500. The scheme is supported by the Countryside Council for Wales and Natural England.

For more details on applying:

1. Introduction to the GCN grants scheme
2. Guidance for applicants
3. Application form

Find out more about the UK’s Species Action Plan for great crested newts > GCN SAP

Further awards for dragons

Dragons in your Garden, a campaign to encourage gardeners to take simple steps to help out the UK’s frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards, continues its tour around the UK.

This weekend saw Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s ‘Dragon Garden’ appear at the British Birdwatching Fair in Rutland. The stand was awarded second prize at the show and thousands of people stopped by to find out more.

By providing free advice to gardeners about adding ponds, compost heaps, rockeries and bog gardens, conservationists from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation hope to see populations of ‘little dragons’ like smooth newts, slow-worms, and even grass snakes, flourish in urban areas where they may be scarce currently.

The Dragon’s Garden will next appear at the Dorset Show on the 5th and 6th of September 2009.

For more about the campaign, along with tips and ideas for your garden, visit:

Dragons in your Garden is supported by a number of organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage, Herpetosure, Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK) and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Friday, 7 August 2009

National stocktake: deadline looms…

The deadline for giving us your garden sightings of frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards is looming…

Earlier this year our national survey Reptiles and Amphibians in your Garden, in partnership with the BTO, brought together an army of amateur wildlife watchers including birdwatchers, gardeners, hands-on conservation volunteers and the general public.

There is still time to get involved! As the deadline looms, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is urging those who received a survey pack to post their recording forms as soon as possible.

The results will contribute to knowledge of where frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards are found nationally and allow scientists a better insight to how important gardens are for their conservation. The results will also be used to understand how amphibian and reptile populations may be responding to a variety of threats, including habitat loss, disease and garden chemicals.

For more information – or to request a new pack email:

For more about Reptiles and Amphibians in your Garden visit: