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Saving Amphibians in Drains PDF Print

Amphibians in a drain copyright Erik PatersonRoadside gully pots are essential for road drainage, but can act as pitfall traps when small animals, including mammals and amphibians, fall through the grid and become trapped subsequently either dying of starvation, or being washed into the sewer system by rainwater. Studies by RAVON in the Netherlands (Gully pots death traps for amphibians, RAVON Report (2012)) and in Perth and Kinross (Amphibians in Drains Project 2012 - Perth and Kinross ranger service) have concluded that in some 'hotspot' areas roadside gullypots could collect significant numbers of amphibians during the breeding season, as well as later in the summer as they migrate away from their breeding ponds.

Although, we would like to see the problem tackled at source – preferably by not situating new roads/developmentsEnkamat ladder fitted 2 copyright Trevor Rose across known amphibian migration routes, and by installing 'small animal friendly' dropped kerbs and gullypot designs, we recognise that there are a large number of existing gullypots already causing a problem.

One solution that has been proposed is an 'escape ladder'. Studies by RAVON in the Netherlands have shown that an open structured synthetic matting, such as Enkamat, placed vertically in the gully pot (using various attachment methods including a mastic glue such as 'no more nails', bolts and washers - see: Fixing Enkamat to Gully pots – Initial findings in Sussex) can provide an effective means of escape.

ARGUK is keen to support this initiative and Sussex ARG has purchased a large roll of Enkamat which is available to groups or statutory bodies who would like to test it further. SxARG (contact Barry Kemp: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) can now supply a 2m x 5m piece of Enkamat for £40 (inc P &P) to any ARG/interested party. This should be enough to create ladders for about 60 gully pots. Peter Minting of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) also has supplies of Enkamat, for groups based in Scotland.

Images: Amphibians in a drain copyright Erik Paterson, Wildlife-friendly drain copyright Tayside ARG, Enkamat fixed to a backing strip with bolts, copyright Trevor Rose, FAH

♥♥♥ ARC is planning a workshop on Amphibians in Drains in Scotland for September 2015 (for more information contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) ♥♥♥


Wildlife drain copyright Tayside ARGTHE IMPORTANT STUFF – HEALTH AND SAFETY

For groups contemplating experimenting with Enkamat we would highlight the following issues:

  • It is important to identify which drains catch a lot of amphibians, in order to prioritise effort
  • Permission should be obtained from the local roads department/authority before doing any work on drains/gullypots, and there are several health and safety issues which need to be addressed before starting work (see below). 
  • Appropriate training and equipment should always be obtained or provided to minimise these risks (any activity conducted under the ARGUK group insurance must have a risk assessment in place before-hand, and observe good practice as set out below).
  • The effectiveness of the ladders should always be tested and data recorded

Possible risks to human health and mitigations:

  • Injury or death caused by road traffic (there are recognised standards for how to work safely on roads, which might be achievable for ARGs on minor roads with lower speed limits and good visibility)
  • This work should not be carried out on busy main roads – the risks are too great
  • Potential for minor injury caused by lifting drain covers (e.g. back injuries, trapped fingers) – drain cover lifting tools are needed
  • Risk of infection or toxicity due to contact with contents of drains (gloves and disinfectant recommended)
  • Risk of injury to road users (e.g. cyclists) caused by attaching devices or materials to drains
  • Attachment of mesh or other materials to drain covers is not recommended – this may be damaged and produce a trip hazard
  • Any device fitted within a drain / gullypot should not interfere with the function of the drain
  • Devices fitted within drains may be removed during routine cleaning by roads departments


Make the Adder Count in 2015 PDF Print

Adder Feb 2015 copyright Pete HillWelcome to Make the Adder Count 2015. Started in 2005, this long-running survey aims to encourage springtime counts of adders, with the objectives of informing local conservation projects/interests and gathering a long-term surveillance dataset. 

Make the Adder Count encourages experienced observers to gather data in a standardised way (by making at least three and, ideally, five or six, counts of snakes) so that information may be pooled to build a picture of trends in adder populations nationally.

In 2015 the project is being co-ordinated by the Chair of ARGUK, Chris Monk. To take part please contact him at:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

(Adder basking in February 2015 - image copyright Pete Hill)


To Take Part in Make the Adder Count

You can download the MTAC forms for 2015 here:

Make the Adder Count 2015

Survey notes and additional information can be downloaded from here

Make the adder count notes for 2015


MTAC has been generously supported by:

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ToadSize 2015 - Getting the measure of toads and traffic PDF Print

OxARg toad measuring 2 A Julian

In 2013, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and ARGUK launched a new project - ToadSize - that aims to investigate the impact of road mortality on toad populations, and how that is affected by toad patrolling. This is achieved by measuring male toads on their way to their breeding ponds.

In the 2013 and 2014 seasons, we were delighted to receive over 1000 records from 19 crossing sites, with some rather unexpected results, which showed that at the sites tested the most important factors were frequency of partol and distance form breeding pond. For more on this please download our powerpoint Toadsize 2013 results

We would also like to thank everybody who took part.

In the 2015 breeding season, we would like to repeat the ToadSize project, to gather additional information from both existing and new sites, and to test our preliminary findings. This will inform future conservation efforts. Therefore, once again, ARGUK and ARC would like help from the local ARGs and toad patrollers.

What we would like you to do

  • Measure the body lengths of 10 to 20 male toads per night, for several nights during a crossing period.
  • Count or estimate the number of toads moved by patrollers on each sample night.
  • Count or estimate the number of toads killed by traffic on each sample night.
  • Measure traffic volume at the crossing.

Site selection

We want measurements from sites where road mortality is known to be high. But we also need to compare these with sites where there is low mortality (e.g. quiet roads or roads temporarily closed to traffic), or no mortality. All types of site are welcomed, and if you or your ARG can organise data collection from one of each, then it would be a valuable addition to the project.

How to get involved

To get involved with ToadSize 2015, please download the recording forms:

Toadsize 2015 Recording form in excel

Toadsize 2015 Recording form in pdf

If you can contribute to this citizen-science project to investigate the impacts of road traffic on common toads, then please contact Angie Julian (ARGUK Secretary) 

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or John Wilkinson (ARC Science Programme Manager) This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Health and Safety

The safety of volunteers is of paramount importance, and so participants in ToadSize should adhere to the safety measures recommended for all toad patrolling work.


Early Success for the Sefton Coast Sand Lizard Task Force PDF Print

Dune race sand lizard male  copyright Peter HillNorth Merseyside Amphibian and Reptile Group (NMARG) and other ARG UK volunteers are celebrating the successful creation of egg-laying sites especially for the Merseyside sand lizard.

The Merseyside sand lizard is a unique form of this rare and strictly protected species which has very specific egg-laying requirements.   This spring, volunteers have created over 150 sand patches among the dunes of the Sefton Coast.  Initial indications are that the sand lizards have adopted these egg-laying sites very quickly.  At one location where the species has formerly been in decline, NMARG has now found 11 female lizards, many investigating the newly managed sand patches where they will soon lay eggs.

Mike Brown (NMARG Chairman); " This clearly shows that habitat and species monitoring, combined with targeted habitat management, can have positive results in a very short space of time."

Volunteers from the Amphibian and Reptile Group network have been spearheading emergency habitat restoration for the sand lizard on the Sefton Coast over the winter months.  With funding from the British Herpetological Society (BHS) and the ARG UK 100% Fund, volunteers from several ARG groups have joined forces with conservation professionals from ARC and Sefton Council to remove the vegetation that is shading sand lizard habitat.

Volunteers Sand patching copyright  Peter HillMonitoring of both habitat condition and the species itself, carried out by NMARG, has allowed prioritisation of management activities which are being addressed through an ever strengthening and successful partnership.

"In spite of the success of the habitat management work, there is a great deal more to do, especially tree and scrub removal and sand patch creation, to ensure the local sand lizard survives and increases in numbers," Mike Brown adds. ARC is currently seeking funds to help local partners with monitoring and managing Sefton's sand lizards.

ARG UK (and the sand lizards) are hugely grateful to NMARG, ARGSL, Manchester ARGs, Fylde ARG, SWWARG, ARC, BHS and Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council for collaborating on this essential habitat management work.

Finding out more about diseases in our native reptiles and amphibians PDF Print

Garden wildlife health posterA special request from our friends at the Institute of Zoology.....

Wildlife disease can cause population declines and even species extinctions. It is important, therefore, that we monitor trends in diseases to determine their impact on populations and to identify new and emerging threats. 

However, our understanding of disease incidence and distribution in our native popluations of amphibians and reptiles, is still relatively poor. The Institute of Zoology (IoZ) have been building a database of disease incidents in amphibians since 1992 and, with the new Garden Wildlife Health project in place, can now extend this to our native wild reptiles. Every report submitted contributes to our understanding of disease threats and each dead animal submitted is examined by a wildlife vet at IoZ. The post mortem results are recorded on a national database and samples are archived into one of the largest wildlife tissue banks in the world. These findings provide an invaluable aid to allow us to study and safeguard the health of British reptiles and amphibians, and the results will be used inform and influence government and NGO policies on conservation management.

All of this is only possible because people (like you!) are motivated to get involved and report what they are seeing. So next time you are out and about, please report any sick or dead amphibians or reptiles to us at the Garden Wildlife Health website.

It's free to get involved in GWH, and you'll receive feedback from a veterinary surgeon about the incident. Furthermore, the project regularly performs post-mortem examination on carcasses to determine the cause of death.

Got any questions? Please contact the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or submit a Disease Incident Report with your question in the comments section on the GWH web-site. Remember, GWH is not just for gardens, you can report incidents from anywhere in Great Britain.

for more information go to www.gardenwildlifehealth.org

Note: Garden Wildlife Health (GWH) is a collaborative project between the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Froglife and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) which aims to monitor the health of, and identify disease threats to, British wildlife – including reptiles and amphibians. The project receives funding from Defra and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.  The long-term direction of the project is informed by members of the GWH forum which includes Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARGUK), Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) and the Freshwater Habitats Trust.

Fun stuff for kids (and their parents and teachers) PDF Print

What's That Snake?

Whats that snake thumbnail picWe are delighted to be able to bring you a unique reptile resource pack developed especially for kids (at KS1 and KS2) by those clever folk at Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team (HART) and the Herefordshire Nature Trust, with loads of fun activities, ideas and stories, to help you find out more about our very special native reptiles.

Please download and use Whats That Snake? at home or for your school, and let us know how you get on.

Have fun!! 


Finding out moreAmphibian ID guide 2014 - for website

And for those of you who are out and about why not download our Amphibian ID guide and Reptile ID Guide to take with you, they will tell you everything you need to know about our native species - if its a frog or newt in your garden pond, or a lizard basking on a wall.



'What's That Snake' is generously supported by those nice people at the Heritage Lottery Fund, Malvern Hills AONB and Wye Valley AONB. 

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