Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Amphibian and Reptile ID iPhone app Released!

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) staff have recently been working with popular smartphone and tablet app developers Isoperla and the Amphibian and Reptile Groups – UK (ARG-UK) to develop a new app for iPhone and iPad platforms.

Based on Isoperla’s successful “HerptileId” (which came number 3 in BBC Countryfile’s top 10 apps), the new app contains even more ID photos and updated information that will enable users to explore and identify the amphibians and reptiles of the British Isles.

To find the app, type “Isoperla” or “HerptileId” into the search box in iTunes or the Apple App Store. Existing users can upgrade to the new app for free!

You can also use a QR scanner on your smartphone to scan the image to the right and go straight to the Apple App Store now!

Users can keep a log of reptile and amphibian sightings using the app and take a photograph too. Reptile and amphibian sightings provide important conservation information and this can be sent in real time to the ARG-UK Record Pool database automatically from the app. This information will be used to help conservation of our native species.

We hope that this exciting collaboration will lead to a greater appreciation and nderstanding of amphibians and reptiles, and that this will deliver conservation benefits.

Watch the demo for the Iphone...

and for the Ipad...


ARC Christmas Cards!

ARC have once again produced some brilliant and original Christmas cards for sale this year.

You can either purchase a set of eight cards including four herp themed designs for £3.00

or a set of five cards featuring a design by our own Research & Monitoring Officer, Dr John Wilkinson for £2.00If you'd like to purchase some of these lovely cards please contact us via e-mail at or call us on 01202 391319

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

New recruits!

We would like to welcome two new recruits! Bill Shaw, our Cumbria Natterjack Officer and his girlfriend Hilary are celebrating the birth their beautiful twins. Orla Imogen and Seth Felix are both happy and healthy babies and their parents are thrilled to bits. We hope that they will follow in their fathers footsteps and be the next generation of natterjack sureyors!

Congratulations again Bill and Hilary!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Remember, remember the amphibians on the 5th of November!

The Royal Horticultural Society, The Wildlife Trusts and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation are asking organisers of bonfire night celebrations to look out for amphibians before they light their fires.

"People tend to check for hedgehogs in the wood they have gathered for their fire," says Andrew Halstead, Principal RHS Entomologist. "But it is equally likely that toads, frogs and newts will have found shelter in these piles and might be missed. Toads and frogs play an important role as predators in the garden and should be encouraged"

Garden frogs, toads and newts can be very active at this time of year as they look to stock up on invertebrate prey for winter,” says Dr. John Wilkinson of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. “Although people may think of amphibians as creatures that occur only in the countryside, gardens are important refuges for many of them”.

Like hedgehogs, amphibians (frogs, toads and newts) seek out sheltered parts of gardens in the autumn weather to prepare for the cold winter. Unlit bonfires can be perfect because they offer protection from predators, and because they attract amphibian prey including woodlice, worms, spiders and beetles.

"Bonfire organisers can divert amphibians away from the bonfire site, and give them safe shelter, by having smaller log piles, or heaps of leaves, away from the main pile," says Morag Shuaib of The Wildlife Trusts. "And before lighting the re-built bonfire pile, it is a good idea to make a final check by torchlight, to make sure nothing has sneaked in."

So to keep our amphibians safe on November 5th by following these tips:
  • Provide alternative safe hiding places by creating small log piles of heap of leave away from the main stack.
  • Don’t build you bonfire until the day it will be lit.
  • Make sure to check any pre-built bonfires thoroughly before lighting.
Remember, remember the amphibians on the 5th of November!

Thank you

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Herpetofauna Workers Meeting - 2012

Due to the increasing popularity of this annual event, we are delighted to announce that the Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting 2012 will be held at the Telford International Centre (T.I.C.), Shropshire, Saturday 28th to Sunday 29th January. This venue is just three hours travel from the majority of the UK population so we are hoping that it will provide everybody an opportunity to attend!

We have a full and varied programme of presentations and updates from ARGs throughout the UK as well as workshops to suit all interests and to inspire anyone with an interest in herpetology for the season ahead. Everyone is welcome, from novices to students and volunteer surveyors to University Professors! There will also be an opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones at our Gala Dinner and social evening which includes the return of Britain’s premier herpetological quiz – ‘Have I got newts for you!’

For more information and to download a flyer, booking form and/or the provisional programme visit

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Nick Baker at ARC/LWT/CLARE stand at WildlifeXpo

ARC, LARG, GiGL and London Wildlife Trust together as part of the CLARE project took the last of the season’s herps to the WildlifeXpo last weekend to raise awareness of the amphibians and reptiles who call the capital their home. We had a great variety of the city’s herps on display, including a large and beautiful grass snake which attracted many people’s attention including TV Naturalist Nick Baker (known for his love of herpetofauna). With over 2,000 visitors to the Xpo we’d like to say a big thank you to those who came along and gave us their sightings. They will be of enormous help in safeguarding a future for these fantastic animals in and around London...

Tell us your sightings online at

As the nights draw in...

At this time of year we still sometimes get occasional reports of reptiles and amphibians sightings – these range from lizards or snakes basking in the last of the autumn sun to frogs and toads out hunting for food on cool, damp evenings. In both cases, the animals are preparing for hibernation and don’t need any human help unless caught away from shelter during a very sudden cold snap. If this does happen, they will be very sluggish and can be gently moved to a nearby area that provides shelter – such as a clump of vegetation, log or rock pile. Britain’s herpetofauna is well-adapted to cope with even the coldest of winters but our autumn weather can sometimes catch them out – especially with our present very variable weather! When winter really kicks in ponds may freeze over. For more information about what to do when this happens visit the ARC frequently asked questions pages here

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Good news in the fight against chytridiomycosis

A team of scientists from Cornell University, US, has taken a huge leap towards understanding why the fungal disease chytridiomycosis (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) has such devastating and fatal effects on some amphibian populations while others fight off the infection, remaining healthy.

The group have identified genetic factors that seem to make some individual frogs immune. These individuals have a genetic difference that can be traced back to regions of DNA that form part of the immune system called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). This helps the body’s immune system identify foreign bodies (such as fungi or bacteria).

These findings could influence captive breeding programs around the world. The idea would be to screen amphibians' MHC genes before breeding, to increase the odds of producing Bd-resistant tadpoles, which in turn would produce a more resilient population.

Of course this is fantastic news for our vulnerable amphibians, but does not take away from the fact that much work is still needed to combat their greatest threat, habitat destruction. This is why organisations like ARC will continue with conservation projects across the UK and abroad.

See an article written by the BBC News for more details on this story >>>
Visit our website for more general information on amphibian disease >>>

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The National Planning Policy Framework - is it all bad news for reptiles and amphibians?

‘Yes’ I hear many of you cry – and in essence that is the problem with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the Government’s new planning proposals for England. The headline messages are simply not strong enough in favour of conserving the natural environment and, partly as a consequence of this, the document reads like a developers’ charter. Emphasising as it does the need for a strong ‘pro-economic growth’ agenda’, the current wording threatens to jeopardise large areas of our countryside and many of the ‘brownfield’ sites (derelict/ former industrial land) that are so important for reptiles and amphibians.

There are, however, some principles within the NPPF that we at Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), and others in Wildlife & Countryside Link, the NGO forum through which we do much of our campaigning work on Planning legislation and policy, do subscribe to. We support Sustainable Development (with the emphasis on Sustainable!), we see a benefit in a more proportionate and locally accountable planning system and we see value in a ‘plan led’ approach that can define conservation as well as socio-economic objectives for an area. The 58 page document is meant to be read and considered in its entirety – for those with the stamina to reach clause 163 there is a section on the Natural Environment and scattered through it are little nuggets that could give us hope, had we not been distracted by the less positive messages elsewhere.

ARC, through W&C Link, is actively campaigning to address some key over-riding issues, and in particular:

  • the need for a clear and workable definition of sustainable development;
  • that there should only be a presumption in favour of development that clearly accords with an appropriate definition of the term ‘sustainable development’; and
  • clear links must be made between the NPPF and the Natural Environment White Paper.

The Prime Minister has recently made a personal intervention and has emphasised his commitment to safeguarding our countryside – but we also wish to see wildlife conserved throughout England and not just in our designated National Parks. For truly sustainable development to happen as a result of the NPPF, the whole document must reflect the fact that our long term economic growth relies on protecting and enhancing the environmental resources that underpin it, also paying due regard to social needs. Without this basis, the presumption for ‘sustainable development’ will simply be a licence for ‘sustained development’. The NPPF, as written, has rightly angered many environmental and local organisations and has sustained a barrage of criticism in the press. Let us hope that the Government is listening and takes this opportunity to create a planning system that delivers truly sustainable development - a thriving economy alongside flourishing wildlife. ARC will continue to campaign to try to make this happen.

The opportunity for Public comments continues until 17th October (see we would encourage you to have your say).

Tony Gent


Annual ARC-BHS Scientific Meeting - December 2011

The programme for the ever popular joint scientific meeting of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and the British Herpetological Society has now been finalised!

The meeting will take place on Sunday 4th December, from 9:30am to 5:00pm and will be held at the Bournemouth Natural History Society.

For more details and to register for the meeting please download the flyer here

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Rare Sand Lizards Released Back to the Wild in England & Wales

During this week conservationists will be giving the UK's rarest lizard a helping hand, c.500 captive bred sand lizards will be released at 7 sites in England and Wales as part of a long-term conservation project to restore the species status and historic range.

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (ARC), the Countryside Council for Wales and Natural England have teamed up to safeguard the future of these magnificent lizards. The lizards will be released at specially prepared nature reserves in Merseyside, west Wales, Surrey, Sussex and Dorset.

In the UK sand lizards only live on two rare habitats; sand-dune and lowland dry heath. Due to vast historic losses, and fragmentation of these habitats via development and land use change, the species has been lost from north and west Wales, Cheshire, Kent, Sussex, Berkshire, Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall. Native populations now only remain in Merseyside, Surrey, and Dorset -though even here losses of 97%, 95% and 90% have occurred respectively.

Due to these losses the sand lizard is now part of the UK's Biodiversity Action Plan. This has three main aims - protect the sites as nature reserves where the species occurs, to manage these sites to maintain and restore suitable conditions for sand lizards and, to re-introduce sand lizards to managed sites in their former historic range.

Currently there are ten captive breeding centres for sand lizards including Chester Zoo and Marwell Wildlife, New Forest Reptile Centre and Avon Heath Country Park These centres have outdoor enclosures that mimic the sand lizard's natural environment. From here, the captive bred juveniles are released on the re-introduction site in early September to allow the animals to gradually get used to the re-introduction site before hibernation in October.

Jonathan Webster, ARC Chair of Trustees said "We are delighted with the success of the sand lizard re-introduction programme. So far the partnerships have instigated 74 re-introductions to both dune and heathland sites in 12 vice-counties and restored the species to 7 of these. 80% of these have been successful or going well and more are planned for the future."

We have high hopes for this year's re-introductions as these large sites are well managed by our partners; Countryside Council for Wales, MoD, National Trust, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Bournemouth Borough Council, Waverley Borough Council. Ongoing surveys by trained site staff, volunteers and Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK will let us know how the species is doing in the long term, and when they start to colonise new areas.

If people want to find out more about our native amphibians and reptiles or can help with surveying and monitoring please contact us at the address' provided below.

Male Sand Lizards (ARC)

Released Juvenile Sand Lizards (ARC)

For further information contact:

Nick Moulton / Chris Davis, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, 01202 391319, or

Jim Foster, Natural England, 0300 060 1163,

Liz Howe, Countryside Council for Wales, 01248 387257,

CLARE Project at The Mayor’s Thames Festival 2011

The Mayor’s Thames Festival is a huge free, outdoor arts festival that takes place along the banks of the River Thames each September. This multicultural event combines arts, music, dance, river races, carnival and foods of the world to celebrate the River Thames and London’s diverse communities and cultures.

ARC’s CLARE Project will be taking part in this fantastic event and will be situated in The Blue Ribbon Village. The village will be located on and around Potters Fields Park, by City Hall and on the riverside walkway. This area forms the Festival's environmental zone and features activities such as pond-dipping workshops, bee-keeping, colourful flags by artist Shona Watt, music from around the world, art workshops and storytelling, a bar and food stalls and much more!

Sophie our CLARE Project Officer will be on hand with information about our native amphibians and reptiles, animals on display and the chance to record local sightings and get involved in this exciting new project. So come along and meet some of the cities scaliest Londoners!

For more information about the CLARE Project and other upcoming events click here

For more information about the Mayor’s Thames Festival click here

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Tadpoles from Bedfordshire used for Norfolk toad colony

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has recently been involved in creating a new Natterjack toad colony in Norfolk. More than 800 tadpoles were taken from the RSPB nature reserve, the Lodge near Sandy in Bedfordshire and transferred to Norfolk Wildlife Trust's reserve at Grimston Warren. It is hoped that these tadpoles will become toadlets in the next few weeks. Read the BBC News article here

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Job Opportunity with ARC based in Surrey

ARC is looking to appoint a Field Officer to help with our set of nature reserves in Surrey, Hampshire and Sussex. Based at the Surrey Office in Witley, the post is a full time, permanent position. Duties will include working as part of the small Surrey team working on our heathland reserves throughout the Weald. Experience and knowledge of heathland management is required, along with strong communication skills. A full Job Advert is available to download here. Further information on the Job Description and Person Spec is available here. Click here to download an application form or contact Helen Wraight on 01202 391319 or email to request an application pack. Closing date for applications is Tuesday 6th September 2011.

Friday, 5 August 2011

London Wildlife Trust's Green Picnic

We will be at Clissold Park in Hackney this Sunday 7th August 1pm – 6pm for London Wildlife Trust’s (LWT's) Green Picnic as part of Hackney C arnival.

 After the success of the CLARE launch event last Sunday (and thanks to those who came along) we will be bringing with us some more of London's snakes and lizards along with a large common toad and hopefully the UK's rarest snake: the smooth snake (not native to London and so a rare chance to see this lovely animal). We'll be taking down your amphibian and reptile sightings from around London once again so please come to the stand (inside the information tent in the middle of the park event).

There's loads of great things going on on the day including LWT's face painting, Animal Olympics, guided walks and bush craft - so don't miss out.

Details on the Green Picnic event and how to get there can be found on the LWT's events page:

Sophie Hinton

CLARE Project Officer

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Consultancy Services Manager wanted

ARC is looking to appoint a Consultancy Services Manager to help plan, establish and then manage a new consultancy business for the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust.

This is a new role with the intention of providing consultancy services in amphibian and reptile species management to further the conservation of the species concerned. The role will provide the lead in establishing a separate trading company through which the business services will be developed whilst working closely with the charity.

If you would like to apply for this post then please contact Helen Wraight on 01202 391319 or email for an application pack. Further details can be found on the website (see Latest News on the Home page). Closing date for applications is 1pm on Monday 25th July 2011 and interviews will be held on Friday 5th August 2011.