Wildlife Trust launch survey to find out what you’ve seen

Adders are very rare in Lincolnshire and restricted to a few heathland sites and some wooded areas on sandy, acidic soils. Photo credit: Amy Lewis, suupplied by LWT.
Adders are very rare in Lincolnshire and restricted to a few heathland sites and some wooded areas on sandy, acidic soils. Photo credit: Amy Lewis, suupplied by LWT.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (LWT) has launched a new survey to gatherinformation about amphibians and reptiles and they would like you to get involved.

The natural world is waking from its winter slumber and wildlife is on the move.

Common Frog. Photo Credit: Clare Sterling.

Common Frog. Photo Credit: Clare Sterling.

Frogs, toads and newts are returning to their breeding ponds and reptiles are being tempted out of hibernation by the warmth of the early spring sun.

Amphibians and reptiles are at their most visible at this time of year and LWT would like to hear from anyone who spots them.

In Lincolnshire there are six species of amphibian and four species of reptile.

Like so much of our wildlife, amphibians and reptiles declined throughout the 20th Century and may be continuing to decline now.

Common Lizard. Photo credit: Amy Lewis.

Common Lizard. Photo credit: Amy Lewis.

But, without more detailed information about where they are seen, it is difficult to know exactly how they are faring in the county.

Communications Officer, Rachel Shaw, said: “Individually, seeing a toad in your garden may not seem that important but when lots of sightings are collated we can begin to see how they are distributed in Lincolnshire. Submitting your sightings of amphibians and reptiles will increase understanding of the existing populations.”

A simple form on the Wildlife Trusts website can be filled in whenever frogs, toads, newts, snakes or lizards are spotted and is available from: www.lincstrust.org.uk/reptile-survey, there are also photos and descriptions to help in identifying any amphibians and reptiles.

Here are some of the species you might see when out and about in Lincolnshire or even in your garden.

Grass Snake. Photo credit: David Chamberlain.

Grass Snake. Photo credit: David Chamberlain.

REPTILES:

Adder - Relatively small, stocky snakes. Males are silver-grey and the females are brown, they have a distinctive, darker zig-zag from head to tail. Entirely black adders sometimes occur.

They are normally seen basking in sunny spots.

The UK population of adders is declining and in recent years they have disappeared from many sites.

Smooth Newt. Photo credit: Shirley Freeman.

Smooth Newt. Photo credit: Shirley Freeman.

They are very rare in Lincolnshire and restricted to a few heathland sites and some wooded areas on sandy, acidic soils.

Grass snake - Olive green with black bars down sides and some black spots on top.

The neck has yellow or white mark, next to black mark. Markings are occasionally faint.

Grass snakes are associated with water and can swim well.

This is the snake that’s most likely to be seen in gardens; in ponds and compost heaps.

Common lizard - Very variable in colour but are usually brownish-grey with light and dark spots, flecks and stripes. Young lizards may be all brown or black.

They often bask on rocks and wood piles.

Slow-worm - Despite their name and appearance, slow-worms are neither worms nor snakes but are in fact lizards.

They can be brown, copper, golden or grey; may have black/dark brown sides and a thin stripe on the back.

Males sometimes have blue spots.

The body is very shiny and the tail is often blunt.

They are normally discovered underneath objects.

AMPHIBIANS:

Common frog - Can vary enormously from green to brown and even red or yellow, but typically brown or grey with smooth skin. They lay their eggs in big clumps of spawn.

Common toad - Olive-brown, warty skin and short back legs.

Walks rather than hops.

They lay their eggs in long strings of spawn, wrapped around aquatic plants.

Natterjack toad - Natterjack toads are very rare and are found only at a few sites on the coast.

More olive-green in colour than the common toad, with a yellow stripe running down the back.

Smooth newt - Grey-brown with an orange belly and neat black spots all over.

In the breeding season, males have a smooth crest running the full length of their body and tail.

The smooth newt is thought to be a common species in Lincolnshire.

Great crested newt - Almost black in colour, with spotted flanks and a striking, orange belly.

The skin is warty. The males have a long, wavy crest.

The great crested newt is relatively abundant within Lincolnshire.

Palmate newt - Our smallest newt. Peachy-yellow underneath with few spots on the belly, but none on the throat.

In the breeding season males develop webs on their hind feet.

The palmate newt is Lincolnshire’s rarest newt, possibly, in part, due to their specific habitat requirements – they are generally associated with more acidic conditions, which are limited in the county.

* PLEASE NOTE:

- Great crested newts and natterjack toads are strictly protected species, requiring a licence to handle or disturb.

- The adder is the UK’s only venomous snake.

However, their secretive nature and camouflaged markings mean they often go unnoticed.

Though painful, adder bites are rarely fatal.

There are only around ten recorded cases of death from adder bite in the last 100 years.

Most bites occur when the snake has been disturbed or deliberately antagonised.