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ARG UK North West Regional Conference 2016 PDF Print

Booking is now open for the ARG UK North West Regional Conference  Dune race sand lizard male  copyright Peter Hill

The Amphibian and Reptile Group of South Lancashire (ARGSL) on behalf of ARG UK and with support from Manchester Museumare delighted to be able to invite you to our one day regional meeting which is to be held at The Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, on Saturday 19 November 2016, starting at at 10:00 AM.

The meeting covers both regional and national projects, and features some of the latest research on reptiles and amphibians with a prestigious and varied speaker panel including: Dr Robert Jehle, David Orchard and Samantha Hook (University of Salford), Dr Trent Garner (Institute of Zoology), Jim Foster (ARC Trust), Donal Smith, Joe Reynolds (University of Gloucestershire), Rick Parker (Bolton Conservation Volunteers), and John Newton (Yorkshire and North Merseyside ARGs). The focus of the meeting will be the amphibian and reptile species of the north west of England, including great crested newts. We will also hear more about some of the most critical amphibian diseases in the UK including rana virus and chytrid; as well as how reptiles colonise industrial landscapes; and an update from ARC on an exciting new project, 'Gems in the Dunes' which aims to conserve some of the most important, but endangered, species from the unique habitats found on the Sefton Coast, notably the natterjack toad and the rare northern dune race sand lizard.

For more information, you can download the draft programme for the conference here: NW Regional Conference Programme Flyer

Early booking is recommended for this meeting and the registration fee of £15 for ARG members includes tea/coffee on arrival and a light lunch.

Download the registration form here NW Regional Conference Booking Form

(Sand lizard image copyright Pete Hill)     

This meeting is generously supported by:

museum 1

‘The Vanishing Viper: Priorities for adder conservation’ PDF Print

Adder copyright Paul HudsonThe Vanishing Viper: Priorities for adder conservation

A National Meeting: 8th - 9th October 2016

Draycott Memorial Hall, nr Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3UE

 Amphibian and Reptile Groups of UK (ARG UK) and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) are proud to be able to announce the first national adder meeting.  The meeting will address all aspects of adder conservation, with a mixture of presentations, workshops, interactive sessions and posters. Session themes will include:

 (image copyright Paul Hudson)

¨Strategic challenges and solutions for adder conservation

¨Insights from survey and research

¨Managing landscapes sympathetically for adders: opportunities and challenges

¨Public interactions with adders – what messages should we be broadcasting?

¨Site protection, regulation and policy issues

¨Mitigating development impacts 

¨Prioritisation of threats and conservation actions for the adder

We will be hearing from a range of adder specialists including: Jim Foster (ARC), Steve Langham (SARG), Nigel Hand (HART), Richard Griffiths (DICE), Tony Gent (ARC), Trent Garner (IoZ), Rick Hodges (KRAG), Pete Hill & Mark Barber (ARC), Paul Edgar (NE), Liz Howe (NRW), Lee Brady (KRAG),  John Baker (Suffolk ARG), John Dickson (RAGS), Chris Cathrine (Caledonian Conservation), Chris Monk (DARG), Jon Cranfield (Herpetologic), Darryn Nash (DICE), Gary Powell (ARC), Chris Gleed-Owen (CGO Ecology), Mike Phillips (KRAG), Alex Cruickshank (BBOWT), Stephen Corcoran (Cairngorms National Park,) Iain Porter (The Quantock Hills AONB).

There will be an opportunity to join us on Saturday night at the venue for a special Curry Extravaganza, the perfect opportunity to network and socialise further.

We will also be having a poster session throughout the conference to further showcase adder research and survey findings. If you would like to present your work please do contact us on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Please download a draft programme here:The Vanishing Viper - programme summary for 8-9 October 2016

For more information and to book your place at this important meeting please register via the orange Eventbrite button or contact Angie Julian, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 Eventbrite - The Vanishing Viper: Priorities for adder conservation

Generously supported by:

ARC logo

 KRAG logohabitat aid logo white110211 Patsy Wood Trust logo bwARGUKRags logo Resized for website


Spotting disease in amphibians PDF Print

Palmate newt infected with Amphibiocystidium credit Shaun DenneyDuring the survey season, we are asking you to keep a close eye out for any amphibians and reptiles that appear to be behaving in an abnormal manner, or animals with unusual lumps or bumps or skin lesions. There are a number of possible causes for this in amphibians, including infection with Amphibiocystidium Parasitic Disease, and we are keen to find out more about the distribution of this parasitic organism in wild populations in the UK. We are also continuing to monitor other infectious agents such as the causal agent of Chytrid - Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or the new form B. salamandrivorans, which has been found elsewhere in Northern Europe (for more information download: Amphibian disease alert - B. salamandrivorans).

If you do see an animal that looks abnormal, please take photos of the symptoms and report it, together with details of where you found it, to The Garden Wildlife Health Project

If the symptoms look unusual, and the animal is dead, then the veterinarians at the Institute of Zoology may ask you to send it to their laboratory for post mortem. If this happens, they will send you additional instructions for collection, storage and posting protocols. At the present time the costs of analysis and postage are covered by the funded project, and there will be no cost for this service.

(Image: Palmate newt infected with Amphibiocystidium, credit Shaun Denney).


Do you find shed reptile skins while surveying in the UK? PDF Print

Grass snake scotland

Support the 'Reptile Slough Genebank Project'

Research indicates that our native reptile populations may be in decline, and more information is urgently needed to understand what is happening.

In the UK a important factor could be increasing fragmentation and isolation of populations, through development and habitat loss, leading to reduced genetic diversity. Responding to these concerns, we are working together with our partner organisation, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, to ask people to collect and send in snake and other reptile sloughs (shed skins) from across the UK. DNA will be extracted from these sloughs and used to build up a 'Reptile Genebank' that can be used for long term studies into the effects of population isolation. The condition of the sloughs will also be able to tell us more about the impact of other external factors such as trauma from predator attacks, or parasites that may be affecting them.

How you can help

If you find a snake or other reptile slough anywhere in the UK, please send it to ARC using the following guidelines (see also Reptile Slough Genebank)

1. Do not disturb, handle or physically remove the slough from any reptile.
2. Please keep each individual slough separate, even if it is from the same site or refuge. Any contamination will compromise or invalidate the value of the slough.
3. Collect as much of the skin as possible, but it does not need to be entire to be useful
4. Record the grid reference (Minimum four figure, i.e. XX 12 34) and/or postcode
5. If the slough is wet/damp please dry it out as best as you can, but avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight as this can destroy the DNA.
6. Before placing each slough in a separate, dry paper envelope and sealing it, write on it:

  • which species you think it is
  • the location you found the slough
  • the date you found it
  • your name and contact details (especially email)

Place this envelope (or envelopes) in another envelope and at the end of each season post to:

Reptile Slough Genebank, ARC Trust, 655a Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH1 4AP

Please note:  If you collect more than one slough you MUST ensure that you keep them separate from the moment you collect them.  Any contamination will compromise or invalidate the value of the slough.

What to do if you find a dead reptile?

Garden wildlife health posterIf you find a dead animal then please report it to the Garden Wildlife Health Project as soon as you can:  www.gardenwildlifehealth.org

This is a joint 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), to which we are also collaborators, that aims to monitor the health of British wildlife.  

The project is currently funding veterinary specialists at the Institute of Zoology to investigate more about our native fauna, particularly: garden birds, hedgehogs, reptiles and amphibians. They are particularly interested in reptiles, as they have received relatively few animals, so any that we can send will help them to build up a bigger picture about our native populations.

Up-dated Amphibian and Reptile Atlases for North East England Released PDF Print

Reptile Atlas 2016 for website

We are please to report the release of the most up to date 2016 Reptile and Amphibian atlases for North East England. With many thanks to John Durkin and the team at NERAG for all their hard work on this. 

These documents can be downloaded here in .pdf format:

Amphibian Atlas Of North East England 2016

Reptile Atlas of North-East England 2016


(photo by Philip Roxby)




ID guides and resources PDF Print

Amphibian and Reptile ID Guides

Amphibian ID guide 2014 - for websiteARGUK and ARC jointly produce two photo ID guides for amphibians and reptiles which are intended as a resource to support training courses,Reptile guide 2016 - ID guide or to help in responding to enquiries concerning identification. 

Both our amphibian and reptile guides have been updated recently, and the reptile guide now contains some examples of two small non-native snakes, as escaped pets are sometimes reported particularly in urban areas.

You are welcome to download and laminate these guides to help with field identification.

You can download the Amphibian ID guide here: Amphibian ID guide 2014 (updated)

and you can download the reptile guide here: Reptile ID Guide 2016 - full resolution



There is a Snake in my Garden - What Can I Do?

Many ARGs have taken this type of phone call from a concerned (or excited) member of Identify Britians snakes - ARC posterthe public - who may perhaps wish to find out more about what is living in their back-yard, or sadly (in some cases) wish the animal to be re-located. The emphasis of ARGUK is on protecting native species in their environment so, whilst we welcome the records (which can be added to record pool - www.recordpool.org.uk), we do not offer an amphibian or reptile re-location service.

However, it is always useful to be able to help identify the animal and offer additional advice and support, perhaps to allay concerns, or to enable a gardener to provide a more suitable home for our native amphibians and reptiles. So, in addition to the ID guides above we have, jointly with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, provided a number of useful leaflets and other resources. The first of these is 'There is a Snake in my Garden - What Can I Do?' - which provides some answers to FAQs, and can be downloaded here: There is a snake in my garden - what can I do. This can be supported by the ARC poster 'Identifying Britain's Snakes'.

2015-04-11 10.13.40Dragons in your garden

For those keen wildlife gardeners out there, ARC have also provided a very handy booklet 'Dragons in Your Garden' which provides an illustrated, user-friendly guide to creating perfect habitats for amphibians and reptiles. For pond lovers, the Freshwater Habitats' Trust have also produced a guide to creating and maintaining ponds: Creating Garden Ponds for Wildlife 

New for 2016 - the Revised Reptile ID Guide PDF Print

Reptile guide 2016 - ID guideWe are delighted to be able to announce that the ARC and ARGUK joint reptile photo ID guide has been updated for 2016. For the first time, the revised guide includes some examples of non-native snakes, as escaped and released pets turn up from time to time particularly in urban areas. 

The guide is intended as a resource to support training courses (e.g. printed out) or to help in responding to enquiries concerning reptile identification.

To access the full guide - please download here: Reptile ID Guide 2016 - full resolution

For a compressed version please download here: Reptile ID guide 2016 - compressed

The 2016 Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting PDF Print

HWM 2016 1 for web

The hugely popular Herpetofauna Workers Meeting was held in Oxford in 2016, with two days of fascinating talks and workshops, the latest news on herpetofauna conservation and plenty of networking opportunities. As ever, the parallel social programme also proved very popular, with many attending the ARGUK curry on Friday night, and the Saturday Gala Dinner with the perennial favourite HIGNFY, which this year featured herpy super heroes, and a new Olympic sport of 'toad tossing' (plastic ones I hasten to add!!).

For a more personal summary, I include a review from our colleagues at KRAG:

The 2016 Herpetofauna workers meeting included a range of talks from local volunteers, students and professionals. For me, some of the stand out presentations were those that illustrated community participation and talks that summarised the results of monitoring projects. Amy Wright's talk on Kent Toad Crossings being an excellent example of how a dedicated volunteer can motivate people to get involved in conservation. John Baker's account of adder monitoring in East Anglia demonstrated the importance of long-term data sets, inspiringHelena Turner Skink poster HWM 2016 for web a discussion in the bar that concluded with plans for a further autumn conference and a commitment to publish evidence that can be used to influence land managers involved in practical conservation.

The meeting also allowed students to present results of their ongoing research projects. Aidan Mackay's talk on Kent marsh frogs and Rob Ward's account of Jersey grass snakes were both delivered confidently with interesting findings. I also enjoyed learning about Layna's island skinks in Helena Turner's nicely presented poster. Posters are a great way of summarising projects and perhaps something to be expanded for future events.

Finally, the workshops provided a platform for statutory organisations to announce new publications and planned changes to the interpretation of conservation legislation.

2016 certainly looks like it will be an interesting year for species that currently enjoy European protection!

herpy super heroes 1 Toad tossing HWM 3 for webSurrey ARG croakers for HWM 2016 for webHSI workshop HWM 2016 for web

The 2016 Herpetofauna Workers meeting has been generously supported by:

Caledonian Conservationhabitat aid logo newSARG logonhbs-logo-grey-bird

BHS logo    CGO-ecology

Make the Adder Count in 2016 PDF Print

Female adder - copyright Will Watson for websiteWelcome to Make the Adder Count 2016. 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.

Thank you to all the volunteers who have returned their data from 2015 and are helping to build up the 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 adult snakes basking after emergence from hibernation) so that information may be pooled to build a picture of trends in adder populations nationally.

The project is being co-ordinated by ARGUK. To take part please contact Chris Monk at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

(Female adder - image copyright Will Watson, Male adder image copyright Paul Hudson - with thanks)


To Take Part in Make the Adder CountAdder 5 Paul Hudson for website

You can download the MTAC forms for 2016 here:

MTAC 2016 recording form

Survey notes and additional information can be downloaded from here

MTAC 2016 notes in pdf form

MTAC 2016 information notes in word


MTAC has been generously supported by:

NE logodarg logoherpetologic-logoARGUKARC logo


Report on the South West Region Amphibian and Reptile Groups Conference on 14th November 2015 PDF Print

RAGS logo

Peter Richardson with the UKs largest reptile


Saturday 14th November 2015, 

This packed and informative meeting featured a stellar line up of speakers including: Darryn Nash (DICE. University of Kent), Inga Zeisset (University of Brighton), Trevor Beebee (Reptile and Amphibian Group for Somerset), Tony Gent (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation), Chris Gleed Owen (CGO Ecology), Chris Durrant (Queen Mary's University of London), Stewart Edwards (Students Invasive Non-Native Group from Newquay College, Cornwall), Francesca Dunn (Regional Officer for Southern England. Freshwater Habitats Trust), and Peter Richardson (Biodiversity and Fisheries Programme Manager, Marine Conservation Society) who spoke on topics as diverse as: reptile mitigation, adder genetics, water frogs, alpine newts, smooth snake and sand lizard introductions, and the new Mendip Ponds Project. This broad range of topics really show-cased the breadth of conservation work on amphibians and reptiles in the South West, and provoked some lively debate (though only Trevor Beebee was able to discriminate between the water frogs). One of the highlights was a presentation on our largest 'native' herp (with accompanying picture) - and we heard more about marine turtles in the UK from Peter Richardson, the leading expert at the Marine Conservation Society. Our thanks go to John Dickson and his team at RAGS for organising an excellent day.



Highlights of the First Joint Herpetological Scientific Meeting in Dublin PDF Print


HSI packThe first ever Joint Herpetological Scientific Meeting, held at Trinity College, Dublin on Saturday August 29, in 2015 was a great success for all, with some new and many familiar faces, making their way to Dublin to attend a varied series of talks and meet with our Irish counterparts. There were some fantastic talks and posters presenting a variety of research, conservation projects and broader points of view ranging from the travails of the common lizards on a local UNESCO reserve just outside of Dublin, to the importance of land owner engagement in protecting Ireland's natterjack toads. All of the speakers did a great job in engaging and enthusing their audience with their chosen presentation subject. 

The social occassions were also high-points of the meeting, as anyone who came along to Doyle's Bar can attest! Irish lizard 1Although most people had to travel back home soon after the meeting a small number of people stayed through the Sunday, and we had two groups of people go out and see what more Ireland has to offer herpetologically. One group went for a walk along the beautiful cliff walks on Howth Head, encountering about 20 common lizards and a couple of young frogs out and about on the headland. The other group journeyed down to the National Reptile Zoo in Kilkenny, meeting the owner (James Hennessy) who put on a great tour for them in and around the exhibits.

Finally, the raffle was also a huge success, raising €213 towards next year's H.S.I Student Grant Scheme (details of which will be announced soon).


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

Kids Stuff - stickers and sheets

GCN Sticker coloured-in with websites min 5cm - max 22cm for printing

ARGUK is delighted to partner with the artist Mabel Harris (www.mabelart.com) to create a vibrant new range of stickers and character sheets for our budding young herpetologists.  These are perfect for events and other herp-themed activities.

Following on from the generous support for our education work by Natural England we are able to make sheets of 24 x 40mm
circular paper stickers available for purchase at a substantial discount at a price of only £2.50 (including first class postage and packaging) for a set of 5 sticker sheets each with a different design including: adder, grass snake, slow-worm, sand lizard (Northern Dune Race), and great crested newt. Additional sheets can be purchased for an extra 50p each. For more information about these or to buy a sticker set please contact us directly on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Ad Sticker coloured-in with websites min 5cm - max 22cmGS Sticker coloured-in with websites min 5cm - max 22cmSL Sticker coloured-in with websites min 5cm - max 22cmSW Sticker coloured-in with websites min 5cm - max 22cm

And our character sheets can be downloaded here:


Addie adder for the webGeorge GCN for the webGertie grass snake for the webSam sand lizard for the webSelina slow-worm for the web

'What's That Snake' and the 'Pond Pack' - KS1 & KS2 resources

Pond Pack from HART thumbnail

We are delighted to be able to bring you two unique resource packs 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.

For reptiles we have 'What's the Snak'e, and for those of you with a pond at school or home, or even in your local park, a special 'Pond Pack'. Both packs have with lots of amazing ideas and activities for primary schools or kids at home.

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

Have fun!! 

Finding out more

Whats that snake thumbnail pic

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' and the 'Pond Pack' are part of the ponds and newts heritage netwrok project generously supported by those nice people at the Heritage Lottery Fund, Malvern Hills AONB, Wye Valley AONB and the Wildlife Trusts. 

  HART logoThe Wildlife Trusts logohlf logo small

malvernhillsaonb newwyeaonb smallPonds and NewtsNE logo