Monday, 22 November 2010

2011 Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting

The annual Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting will be held on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th January 2011 at the Park Inn, Cardiff. Information about this year's conference is available here. Full programme details can be found here and the full programme, along with the booking form is available on the ARG UK website
This year's conference celebrates the 21st anniversary of the UK Amphibian and Reptile Group Network and a full and varied programme of presentations and workshops is on offer. Always a popular event, last year's conference saw record attendance so book early to avoid disappointment!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

ARG UK Regional Meetings

ARG UK is holding two regional meetings in November:-

South East & London Regional Meeting on 13th November 2010 in Milton Keynes and
South West Regional Meeting on 27th November 2010 in Somerset.

For full programme details and booking form for either of the meetings click on the links above.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Annual ARC-BHS Scientific Meeting December 2010

The programme for the popular Joint Scientific Meeting taking place on Sunday 5th December at the Bournemouth Natural History Society has now been finalised. Click here for final programme and booking form. There are a few places remaining if you wish to get in quickly!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Reptile Habitat Management Handbook

We are delighted to announce that this new Handbook, full of advice for land managers, is now available to download from our website. Go to 'Resources' or click here to download your copy. Copies can also be requested by contacting the office at a cost of £3 to cover postage and packing. Please click here for more detailed information about the Handbook.

Friday, 24 September 2010

UKs Overseas Territories

ARC’s new report on the amphibians and reptiles of UK’s Overseas Territories:

The “UK Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies and Sovereign Base Areas”are a number of small, self-governing territories and dependencies around the world, plus two large military training areas on Cyprus, that remain under the jurisdiction of the UK or the British Crown. Occurring in a wide range of regions and climatic zones, these “territories”include many different habitat types and, between them, support a remarkable wealth of biodiversity that includes a high proportion of endemic species –in many ways they are the jewels in the crown for the ‘UK’s wildlife’ and provide a huge addition to the number of amphibian and reptiles that are directly part of the UK’s conservation responsibilities. Fifteen of these territories support a total of 132 indigenous species (19 amphibian and 113 reptile).

With a view to helping herpetofauna conservation work in the territories, ARC has recently produced a report with a complete species inventory and overview of conservation and research priorities for the herpetofauna in these territories and this is now available on our website. Visit our web-page to find out more about the UK Overseas Territories and their amphibians and reptiles.

Report =


New Data Officer Appointed

My name is Andy Arnell. I am lucky enough to be working as the Newly Appointed GIS and Data Officer, in ARC’s Bournemouth offices, and as such I look forward to working with our surveyors and volunteers and pushing forward our various species monitoring projects. I hope to advance the modeling and mapping of species distribution, whilst maintaining our vast records database and contributing to the wider aims of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

Like most people working in conservation I have always had a keen interest in the natural world. During my Zoology degree this became coupled with a fascination for Science. Since then I have had unforgettable experiences of studying animals in both Kenya and Thailand, but I have became increasingly aware that efforts need to be focused on conservation for future generations to be able to study these weird and wonderful species.

Recent advances in technology, such as the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), have helped produce more accurate species distribution maps and therefore focus conservation efforts. During my Primate Conservation Masters thesis I was fortunate enough to be able to focus on using this type of GIS software to model rare species distributions, including many smaller non-primate species. Since then I have developed a fascination with the conservation of these smaller species, such as amphibians and reptiles that often receive less attention than larger mammals and birds.

Prior to my current appointment with ARC I was living with my girlfriend who teaches art in an international school in Austria. When the opportunity to work for ARC in my ideal role came up, I had to make the tough decision to return to the UK. I am now carrying out a particularly long-distance relationship, but the fascinating nature of the job is at least easing the blow.

Meetings Dates

Some dates for your diary:

The programme for the ARG UK Southeast Regional Meeting (13 November, in Milton Keynes) has been finalised and is available from the ARG UK website

Later in the month (27 November) ARG UK’s first Southwest Regional Meeting will be held at Draycott Memorial Hall, near Cheddar. Programme also available from the ARG UK website.
These regional meetings are open to all interested in amphibian and reptile conservation.

The ARC/BHS Joint Scientific Meeting, now an annual fixture, will be held on 5 December in Bournemouth. Programme details will be available shortly.

Friday, 23 July 2010

New Newt Ponds in Herefordshire

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is delighted to provide funding towards Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team’s (HART) pond creation project in Brockhall Quarry. The location, in Stretton Sugwas, Herefordshire, is a former sand and gravel quarry, on Duchy of Cornwall land, which has been restored as a site for wildlife. Great crested newts are already present, but in a pond that is being overgrown with bulrushes and which may eventually dry out through succession. HART’s project has created three new ponds nearby, to increase the extent and quality of breeding habitat for this Biodiversity Action Plan species.

Will Watson, HART’s project leader, said ‘We’ve taken care to create ideal wildlife ponds. We’ve put in three ponds, rather than a single one, as pond clusters offer greater scope for wildlife. There are two large ponds and a smaller one. They all have gently sloping sides and irregular shapes, to maximise the number of aquatic microhabitats. We have even been able to install dragonfly basking beaches, using pea gravel from the former quarry workings. We will continue to monitor the site in future to check on the newts, but we fully expect them to colonise the new ponds.’

John Baker of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation added, ‘This is a great example of partnership working. Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team has worked with the Duchy of Cornwall to produce a model amphibian conservation project. The Duchy of Cornwall has financially supported the project, but the pond creation funds have been topped up by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s Great Crested Newt Conservation fund and the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK’s 100% Fund.’

Guidance and an application form for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s Great Crested Newt Conservation Grants are available on the ARC website.

For further information about ARG UK go to

Thursday, 15 July 2010

ARC Latest News

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation launched its snake campaign 'Sliding Scales' at the BBC Springwatch event in Southampton on 31 May. Since the launch the campaign website has received over 400 records of snakes from the UK public in one month!

The latest herpetological research shows that snake populations could be following amphibians and lizards down a path to global declines. Further research is urgently needed to understand what is happening.

ARC is asking people to send in snake sloughs (shed skins) that they find in the UK

To find out more, report your sightings and how to send us snake sloughs click here

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has joined forces with England's conservation organisations and has issued an unprecedented warning about what the future would hold should the Government slash spending on conservation. Read more...

Hundreds of ponds funded by Biffaward.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Job Vacancy for a GIS and Data Entry officer

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is looking to recruit a GIS & Data Officer, with good GIS mapping skills, to help carry out its species status assessments, assist with management of data structures and maintain volunteer records. To start as soon as possible.

A detailed Job Description can be found here and an Application Form here.

Opportunities to gain employment in amphibian and reptile conservation are few and far between so make sure you grab this opportunity to work with ARC - the UK's leading charity in this field.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Biodiversity Still in Decline

No matter how many dedicated organisations like Amphibian and Reptile Conservation try to halt the decline of our native species and habitats, the decline continues. According to IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) governments have failed to deliver commitments made in 2002 to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.
There have been some successes including designation of protected areas and the recovery of particular species. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has had its own successes with the re-introduction of the pool frog and translocation of the sand lizard.
To find out more go to:

BBC Goes Wild

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is supporting the BBC Wildlife Fund's Wild campaign. Lots of fun, so get involved. For more information go to:

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Ponds Increasing in Number, but Decreasing in Quality

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is very concerned about the future of our ponds. The Countryside Survey Ponds Report from 2007 is the first national study of trends in pond quality in Great Britain.
To read the full report go to:

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

New Species Unveiled

As Amphibian and Reptile Conservation continues to work towards conserving our native species, a range of new species have been found in Borneo! New species of amphibians and reptiles are being discovered all the time, emphasising the importance of these groups as contributing to global diversity.
See the new species at:

Million Ponds Project on Target

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is continuing to play a key role in The Million Ponds Project, which has just recommended funding for the creation of 366 new ponds across 63 sites in England and Wales. The new ponds will benefit 27 national Biodiversity Action Plan species, including amphibians and the grass snake.

Each year the Million Ponds Project invites applications for high quality pond projects to be financed by Biffaward. Funding for this latest round of projects will be confirmed by mid June, with work to create the ponds starting soon after.

‘Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) is pleased to be a major partner in the Million Ponds Project,’ said David Orchard, ARC’s Ponds Project Officer. ‘It's become a great way of implementing practical conservation projects. Amphibians and reptiles will do particularly well from the forthcoming projects. Of the 366 ponds that will be created, 195 of them will benefit the common toad, 160 the grass snake, 192 the great crested newt and 20 will benefit the natterjack toad.’

The Million Ponds Project is now in its second year and is well on target to create 5000 high quality wildlife ponds by 2012. Some of these ponds will be financed by Biffaward, others will be funded with money from Higher Level Stewardship and some will be created by the Million Ponds Project partners themselves.

David Orchard added; ‘The closing date for the next round of ponds to be funded by Biffaward is the end of January 2011. The Million Ponds Project provides advice on pond creation work as well as funding, so if you'd like to find out more, please contact me.’

Contact details: David Orchard, Ponds Project Officer with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation,

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation to the Rescue as Studland is hit by fires again

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation are sorry to report that in the last couple of weeks there have been two heath fires on National Trust Land on Godlingston Heath NNR, Studland devastating over 40 acres of land. Nick Moulton, ARC’s Reptile Conversation Officer, has been out most days working with National Trust staff to rescue the animals that are left.

Over 90% of the native animals will have died in the fire. If the rest are not rescued the likelihood of survival decreases. Nick and the trained wardens at the National Trust have been picking up animals from the burnt heath and relocating them to the next suitable habitat. This habitat has had additional ‘artificial burrows’ and open sand managed (essential for sand lizard egg incubation) to improve the chance of the rescued animals survival in the new habitat. This will allow quicker repopulation of the burnt area when it recovers.

This time of year is critical for reptiles as they emerge from hibernation. Those that have survived will stay near to their burrows and eventually die if not relocated. The work will continue well into June as the smooth snake is much slower coming out of hibernation. When they do, they will come out to a dry landscape and will be easy pickings for foxes, kestrels, magpies and crows.

So far c50 sand lizards, 70 common lizards, 4 slow-worms, 1 adder and 1 smooth snake have been relocated.

Nick Moulton said; ‘the National Trust wardens and the fire brigade did a superb job. Their quick response and the ‘mown fire breaks’ not only provided the fire brigade with good access, but also stopped the fire from jumping from one site to another. Without the wardens excellent work it could have been 600 hectares!’

The police are investigating. One fire was definitely arson and the second is suspected arson.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Cobra Hood Mechanism Revealed

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has come across this article which is really fascinating. Scientists have uncovered the mechanism behind the menacing 'hood flare' which cobras use as a defensive display.

Must have been a very difficult study. Read more at:

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Sand Lizard Monitoring - Training in Wales

South West Wales ARG and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation are pleased to announce a sand lizard monitoring course in West Wales.

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s rearing and release programme is restoring the sand lizard to its historical range. Over the last few years sand lizards have been reintroduced to five sites in Wales, bringing this species back to a country from where it was formerly extinct. Chris Davis, who coordinates ARC’s rearing and release programme for sand lizards said, ‘It is really satisfying to bring sand lizards back to their historical range – but the geographic spread of the reintroduction sites does pose a logistical problem. We need to monitor the reintroduced lizards and we cannot get around all of the sites ourselves. So, this is an opportunity for local volunteers to become surveyors and make significant input to sand lizard conservation'.

The enthusiasm and support of South and West Wales Amphibian and Reptile Group means that a training course has been arranged from 11 to 14 May in the Tywyn, Gwynedd area.

'This course is open to people who wish to actively participate in both monitoring existing sand lizard populations within Wales and checking sites to which they have not yet been re-introduced', added Chaela Carrell of South and West Wales Amphibian and Reptile Group.

The course involves theory and field trips to local re-introduction sites where techniques will be learnt in the field and, with luck, lizards can be found. Trainees will be responsible for arranging their own transport and accommodation if necessary and a packed lunch will be needed for each day. To apply, please contact Chaela Carrell (

Monday, 19 April 2010

Super Sensitive Toads Hop It

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation have picked up an article about a colony of toads that disappeared before the L'Aquila quake.

Scientists have been studying a colony of breeding toads living in an Italian lake. They found that they all suddenly disappeared five days before a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the town of L'Aquila in central Italy on 6 April 2009. Within days of the earthquake, the toads returned to their breeding pool to continue spawning.

It has been suggested that the toads may have been able to detect the release of radioactive radon gas from the ground, or the presence of charged particles in the ionosphere of the night sky.

To see the full story go to:

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Spring is Sprung

The coldest winter for thirty years has delayed the usual appearances of amphibians and reptiles, but the more recent warm spell means that everything is happening at once.

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) workers and other amphibian and reptile enthusiasts are reporting that common frogs are appearing and spawning all over the country. Common Toads are starting to migrate to their spawning sites in many locations. Adders have been seen throughout March. Even the late risers are on the move. The first sand lizards have been recorded and the first pool frog in Norfolk was seen on the 17 March.

If your thoughts are turning to things amphibian and reptile, then note that NARRS training courses are planned for this year

If you can't get that involved, you can visit to report any amphibian and reptiles you see. You can find an identification guide there and, of course, plenty of photographs can be found on the ARC website.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

40,000 toads to be rescued from death on Britain’s roads

Volunteers are gearing up to rescue over 40,000 toads from death on the UK’s roads in the coming fortnight, setting a new record.

The action is being coordinated to highlight to planners and highways authorities that roads need to be made more amphibian-friendly, to stop toads from undergoing further local extinctions in the UK.

With the sudden arrival of the milder spring conditions, toads across the country are now beginning their seasonal migrations to breeding ponds. At many sites, these migrations occur across busy roads and thousands of toads become victims of road traffic. A national network of volunteer ‘toad patrollers’ exists to help toads across designated roads, armed with torches and buckets.

This network of over a thousand volunteers rescued 34,970 toads last spring – the equivalent of a line of toads the length of 550 London buses.

The volunteers are coordinated through Toads on Roads, a campaign run by the charity Froglife. 758 toad-crossing points have been registered with the charity.

“These volunteer toad patrollers are incredibly committed and some volunteers have been out on spring nights saving toads for almost 25 years.” said Lucy Benyon, Froglife's Toads on Roads coordinator.

“This spring, we’re keen to break the 40,000 toad-mark, partly as a symbolic gesture to show planners and highways authorities that this is a serious issue for wildlife conservation, and that this issue isn’t going away without their taking notice.”

The common toad Bufo bufo has experienced declines in parts of the UK, in some cases caused by the effect of road traffic. In 2007, the common toad was added to the Government’s Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) priority species list.

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is keen to inform planners and highways engineers about measures they can take to make amphibian-friendly roads. To help, they have produced a best-practice booklet called Common toads and roads: guidance for planners and highways engineers. The booklet is being given free to local authorities across England.

“Public bodies have a responsibility to consider biodiversity priority species, including toads, when they are planning new roads and other developments.” said Dr John Wilkinson, ARC’s species expert.

Measures that roads can take to be more amphibian-friendly include: ‘toad tunnels’, wildlife bridges, and lowered kerbs (which toads can climb) to escape the road surface.

To find your nearest registered toad crossing, visit:

ARC would like to thank the following funders who have made our recent updates to the Toads on Roads campaign possible: Patagonia Environmental Grants, ACO Wildlife Technologies and Greenwillows Associates Ltd.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Poor state of Britain’s pond should provide “wake-up call” say charities

A report published today shows that 80% of ponds in the British countryside are in a ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ condition. In England and Wales, the study also shows that the condition of ponds has got worse since 1996.

The Countryside Survey 2007 shows that small waterbodies are in poorest condition in intensive agricultural areas and where they have high nutrient levels, usually where they are connected to streams or were fed by water that ran off from farmland, towns, villages and roads. Many ponds were both shaded and polluted which further reduced their wildlife value.

Ponds support more threatened freshwater plant and animal species than either rivers or lakes and, in a typical patch of English countryside, a wider variety of common species too. Loss of breeding ponds is a main factor behind recent declines for a number of amphibian species.

“It is shocking that ponds are in such a terrible state. This should be a wake up call for everyone concerned with protecting freshwater wildlife and involved in water management. Practically unnoticed, wildlife-rich, clean and unpolluted ponds have become a rarity in the countryside.” said Dr Jeremy Biggs of Pond Conservation.

David Orchard, ponds project officer with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, joined Pond Conservation in commenting on the results:

“Ponds provide habitats for some of the UK’s most threatened species but the importance of water quality and the factors affecting this are often overlooked. The Countryside Survey results show the relationship between wildlife value and the water quality of ponds, emphasising the importance of managing our land sensitively to protect freshwater habitats for the future.”

“Ponds are essential for the survival of amphibians such as our frogs, toads and newts as well as other, once familiar, species such as damselflies and dragonflies.” he said.

Significantly, the study shows that large numbers of new ponds are created annually in Britain (more than 7,000 ponds per year), and that many of these new ponds rapidly became rich wildlife habitats.

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is working closely with Pond Conservation on the Million Ponds Project, an initiative to support the creation of an extra 5,000 good water quality ponds by 2012.

“If most new ponds are located in areas where they are protected from pollutants, and are not fed by streams or ditches, they rapidly become wildlife oases that help to protect Britain’s freshwater biodiversity in the long term.” say Pond Conservation.

Today’s report also highlights the ecological value of ‘protective networks’ of ponds, where freshwater habitats are linked together. These can be valuable to amphibian populations, offering corridors for dispersal and helping reduce the fragility of local populations.

For more information on Pond Conservation’s Million Ponds Project: click here

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Herp Workers Meeting – deadline for registration approaches...!

The deadline is fast approaching for you to register your place at the national conference for those interested in the conservation of amphibians and reptiles…

The Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting (HWM) is the event of the year for those interested in learning more about the latest conservation techniques, projects and research into the UK’s amphibians and reptiles. The conference takes place on 30th-31st January 2010.

Topics covered at the conference include amphibian disease in the UK, new educational approaches to promoting snake identification and appreciation, and special pond management workshops.

The closing date for registration, if you want accommodation, is Thursday this week (14 January). For those that aren’t seeking accommodation, the closing date for registration is 25 January 2010.

To see the programme for the event please click here.

For a booking form click here.

The Herp Workers' Meeting is organised by ARG UK (the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK) and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.