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: