Get involved

Photo © Jon Cranfield

Adder copyright Neil PhillipsThe Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team (HART) have kindly offered to organize this year's ARGUK West Midlands regional meeting which is to be held at Bromsberrow Village Hall (between Ledbury and Gloucester), on Sunday 17th November from 10.00am - 4.00pm. pdfFor more information download the flier.

The theme of the meeting is 'Captive breeding & re-introduction of UK reptiles & amphibians' and, following on from the very successful adder meeting hosted by KRAG two years ago, there will be a strong adder focus. There will be a series of presentations in the morning including an up-date on introductions from Jim Foster, who is Conservation Director at ARC, and more specific case studies on adder, pool frog and sand lizard introductions, as well as the latest findings from some of the adder research programmes, including an up-date on the genetic work conducted by IoZ. This will be followed by an open discussion which aims to explore the many factors surrounding the issue of native herp re-introductions, and finally a short West Midlands ARG round up.

Everyone is welcome (not just West Midlands ARGs), so if you would like to go, please do return the docbooking form to HART's
Sand lizard cropped John BakerChair, Richard King (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to book your place as soon as possible. HART have managed to keep the conference fee down to £12 for the day including lunch.

We look forward to seeing many of you there.

(images: adder © Neil Philips, sand lizard © John Baker)

Plus we have pleasure in giving advance notice of the pdf2014 Herpetofauna Workers Meeting, which will be held at Bristol Zoo on the weekend of 1-2 Febuary in 2014.

We are in the process of finalizing the programme and booking forms with ARC, so please watch this space for more information.

South East Regional meeting set to be an interesting outlook on species protection in the UK with the following submission document on the subject of best practice and mitigation 


'On a professional basis I've been involved with the conservation and mitigation of reptiles and amphibians for 23 years, even longer as a naturalist. Initially, mitigation was a case of last minute rescues, minimal budgets and environmental considerations that were very much on the back burner in any planning. Over time legislation became stronger, mitigation more thorough, and ecologists more professional. There was the need to make sure that survey work and mitigation was appropriate with relevant guidelines. However, in my view, and many others, with the current method statement approach surveys and mitigation are becoming even more rigid and risk adverse. It is no longer a question of mitigation guidelines but a rigid dogma, more like rules, restricting any flexibility for the experienced herpetologist.

I used to be proud of my skills and I enjoyed the challenges and strived to get the best outcome, what we call best practice today. I felt I was making a difference for the conservation of reptiles and amphibians whilst changing attitudes for the better. But with the current system such a flexible approach seems to be penalised with more paperwork, considerable delays, and even the rejection of licence applications.

Furthermore, there times when site mitigation is complicated and cannot be resolved in a method statement or by correspondence, times when a site meeting should be considered. After all, as an ecologist and ARG member, I would consider a site visit where issues were complicated before coming to a decision. However, it seems that site meetings in regard to issues with licence applications are not an option.

I addressed these issues at a SE regional IEEM conference a couple of years ago and the urgent need for change. This has not happened, and it is getting worse, further stifling any flexibility to the guidelines. I've become utterly frustrated by it all and feel that my 23 years of skills and experience is wasted and irrelevant, and I can no longer fulfil my role as a naturalist and a professional ecologist and member of IEEM'

Please download Kevin's discussion paper (below) which will probably spark a discussion at the Regional meeting of the ARG UK hosted by Hampshire Amphibian & Reptile Group at Marwell Zoological Park on the 17th November 2012

Mitigation & Best Practice Submission by Kevin Morgan

Kevin Morgan - Surrey ARG member


Kevin Morgan - Deputy Chair of the Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group

Kevin is a naturalist with considerable experience from Antarctica to the Amazon, and from whale-watching to swimming with dolphins. He is also an ecological consultant, specialising in birds, reptiles and amphibians. He is a well respected speaker and organiser of ecologically sound tourist expeditions.


adder combat

The Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting (#HWM2013) has been established for over 25 years, this unique and popular event occupies the centre stage of the herpetological calendar attracting a broad range of participants from across the UK including:volunteers, professional ecologists, statutory nature conservationists, students & academics.

The programme is gradually being pieced together for next year's meeting which will be at the Edinburgh Conference Centre at Herriot Watt University on the Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 January 2013. Various topics will be discussed through presentations and workshops. Here is a sneak preview:

  • Life on the edge? - Current status of UK adders
  • Turbulent times for tartan natterjacks?
  • Survey and mitigation practices for GCNs
  • The impact of chytrid - in the UK and overseas
  • Reconnecting dragons in Wales
  • The Glasgow living waters project
A special Burns Night Gala Dinner with a raffle to support the ARG UK 100% Grant Fund with the return of the Herpetological Quiz Have I got Newts for You (#HIGNewtsFY).
The meeting programme is being finalised and the booking details are being revised details to be released again soon. 
(NB:Responses from enquiries will be from 5th November!!!) 
Quotes - About and from the Herpetofauna Workers' meeting
"You don't see anything like this anywhere in the World" Trent Garner ZSL
"I have really enjoyed myself...I think what you are doing is really important...keep doing it Do it Louder!" Nick Baker Wildlife TV personality
Everyone is welcome to come along to the meeting and we encourage you to find your local group and/or join up to the BHS or Amphibian & Reptile Conservation to enjoy reduced rates to the meeting
Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details

Adder Workshop 1


Male Sand Lizard
From the latest post from FARG
'In June 2010 I was asked to join the captive sand lizard breeding program. It was felt the amount of Merseyside animals being bred for release needed to be raised due to the large number of receptor sites. During the summer months I monitored the levels and positions of the sun in my back garden to establish the best position to build an outdoor vivarium. Ideally this would be a south / southeast facing part of the garden with the maximum hours of sunshine available. The best spot was found but the surrounding vegetation needed a bit of a haircut.
The enclosure was built to mimic as closely as possible an existing vivarium being used by a current member of the program. Based in the Lake District he has a great success rate working within the guidelines of the Captive Husbandry manual.
The next consideration after location is the size, biggest is best. The largest size possible was 12 ft. long x 5 ft. deep by 4 ft. high with a further 2 ft. being below ground level.
I started building the vivarium in February 2011and dug a hole to the above dimensions 2 ft. deep. This was filled with gravel 6 “ deep and then a breeze block wall was built to 4 ft. above ground level on 3 sides with the front being 1 ft. above ground level. Hard-core was then added to a general depth of 12” and additional contours were made to enable sand banks to be created. Sand was taken from the dunes at Blackpool airport along with marram and lyme-grass and habitat was created as close as possible to that found in a dune system. 8” wide plastic cladding was added to the top section inside the walls to prevent the animals escaping and the top and front of the enclosure was made safe from predators with 1“ x ½ “ mesh, there is a door at the front for access........
Read more on rearing sand lizards on FARG's blog
EggsHatchingHatchlings growingStill growing


The Sand Lizard Recovery Programme is lead by Amphibian & Reptile Conservation who employ a band of dedicated people who breed and rear on sand lizards in special enclosures to bring back the wonderful sand lizard to its former range and introduced to further sites to help conserve this wonderful jewel in the UK's herpetofauna. It is one of the most successful reintroduction projects in the world. Many organisations are involved including the British Herpetological Society, Chester Zoo, Marwell Zoological Park, and many others. 
You too can help by donating to Amphibian & Reptile Conservation so that they can keep this important conservation project going well into the future. We would also encourage people to go and contact your local ARG to also help with local conservation on the ground
Please donate

30 October 2011: South West – River Dart Country Park, Devon

The Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group will be at the Nature Zone tent at the Deadly Days Out Roadshow. Vice Chair of ARG UK Jon Cranfield will be displaying native reptiles, amphibians alongside some more exotic looking creatures for the kids to see and handle. A wonderful day out for kids excited by nature. A further piece to film will be recorded during the day. Sadly Steve our resident slow-worm could not be found for the event at the River Dart Country Park on the 30th October. The large male slow-worm was probably going into hibernation. Around 6,500 children and their parents came to see the Deadly Days Out roadshow with a hefty queue for the Nature Zone Tent where conservation partners were situated for people to get to grips with live animals, craft activities and face painting.


Deadly Days Out

Deadly Days Out

Future Deadly Days Out Dates

6 November 2011: West Midlands - Monkey Forest, Staffordshire
Choose this event & apply for tickets
Closing date: 30th October 2011

13 November 2011: North West - Avenham Park, Preston, Lancashire
Choose this event & apply for tickets
Closing date: 6th November 2011


Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, London Amphibian & Reptile Group, Greenspace Information for Greater London 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

HWM2011_Nigel_HandHWM_06._Jim_F.jpg HWM_06._Mark_Sat_am._-2

The Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting in 2012 (#HWM2012) will be on the 27th - 29th January 2012 

If you only get to one 'herpetological' meeting in 2012, make it this one! The Herp Workers' Meeting 2012. All welcome, from the most experienced to the very newest. Professors to interested amateurs. A great series of sessions on amphibians and reptiles, loads of like-minded people, and at a great venue in Telford. (Yes, where they hold the International Tennis tournaments!) (Rick Anstis Surrey ARG)

More info & details as they emerge on this page please check back soon This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register an interest.

'Actually its a bit gobsmacking coming here, I don't think i have seen something like this anywhere else in the world' 
Trent Garner ZSL commenting on the Herp Workers' meeting in 2011

Education manager makes a ‘slow' start at Berkshire's new wildlife centre 


September 2011. Lynn Hughes, education manager with the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, is discovering lots of slow-worms - some of the beautiful and amazingly lively wildlife that children will see at the Woolley Firs education centre.

Thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, Lynn is working with teachers from schools in nearby towns, including Slough, High Wycombe and Maidenhead, to develop creative and exciting programmes for their visits.

"Children who may never have got up close to butterflies, newts and slow-worms before will enjoy mini-beast hunts, pond-dipping and discovery trails through the orchard, woodland and flower-filled meadows," explains Lynn.

"We'll make sure children and their teachers have a rich and varied experience here linked to the curriculum, and we'll develop wildlife activities to do in their schools too. I'll be working with teachers to create exciting events to suit their specific projects and themes."

Education centre to open in April
The education centre, which is due to open in April, will be in a renovated stable block at Woolley Firs, a 30 ha historic farm on the western outskirts of Maidenhead. Follow the project's progress on

Lynn, who has 13 years' experience of environmental education projects in the UK and Africa, joined the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust earlier in September. "This is a fascinating project," she said. "A classroom in a renovated stable block, the traditional farm, and all the wildlife right here - it's such a great resource for local children to enjoy."

Heritage Lottery Fund
Funding for the Woolley Firs education centre includes a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and generous donations from Wildlife Trust supporters.

Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, South East England commented: "Thanks to this project many hundreds of young people will be able to discover the wonders of nature on their doorstep which will aid biodiversity and environmental conservation in years to come."

Reptile Habitat Management Handbook Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has produced the Reptile Habitat Management Handbook, aimed at those managing, or advising on, sites where reptiles occur.

Copies are available to ARGs on request from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. The handbook will also be available at the various conferences over the winter.

pdf  Reptile Habitat Management Handbook (low resolution download)

You can also download the handbook as a series of higher resolution pdf documents from the Resources section of the ARC website.