A leading South West environmental charity is working hard in the Blackdowns to improve the lot of the region’s reptiles and amphibians.
Species including adders and common frogs, slow worms and toads may not always enjoy the best public profile but, says Devon Wildlife Trust, they are a vital part of our wildlife and one which faces an uncertain future. Over the past 18 months The Trust has set about improving several of its own nature reserves specifically to cater for the needs of these special animals.
Devon Wildlife Trust’s Steve Hussey commented: ‘We are concentrating our efforts on reserves where we know there are existing populations of amphibians and reptiles. What we’ve been doing is ensuring that we can offer them tip-top conditions in which to flourish.’
The work for reptiles and amphibians has included:
• Digging two new ponds, while improving seven others. The ponds are providing homes and breeding places for amphibians including frogs, toads and newts, as well as hunting places for grass snakes.
• The installation of ten artificial hibernation (known as ‘hibernaculum’) nests to allow reptiles including sand lizards, adders and grass snakes to survive the cold winter weather.
• The construction using decomposing plant material of three heaps which provide egg laying places for grass snakes.
• Bracken clearance and scrub removal at each of the four nature reserves designed at checking the spread of plants which threaten to shade out areas used by reptiles to bask in.
Steve continued: ‘The winter ahead will see further work done for reptiles and amphibians on Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserves. We’re delighted that funding from Biffa Award is allowing us to make a positive difference to such well-known but struggling species as adders and toads.’