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Reptile Surveys

All native reptiles species in the UK are protected, to varying degrees. Any development that may affect reptiles or habitat that reptiles use, will need a reptile survey. SK Environmental Solutions have proven experience both surveying for reptiles and mitigating for their presence on development sites. 


There are six species of native reptile in the UK, four of which are commonly found on development sites....

Reptile Legal Protection

Two of the species of native UK reptile are heavily protected by law. However, all species carry protection that make it important to survey for them....

Reptile Surveys

If a site is likely to have reptiles on it, such as a quarry, field boundary, roadside verge, or rocky outcrops, then a reptile survey will be required prior to a planning application being submitted....

Reptile Mitigation

The presence of reptiles does not need to halt work. However, mitigation will need to be put in place to ensure that the welfare of the animals is safeguarded. SK will provide advise as to how to do this with minimal disturbance....


There are six species of native reptile in the UK;

  • Adder Vipera berus

  • Grass snake Natrix natrix

  • Smooth snake Coronella austriaca

  • Slow-worm Anguis fragilis

  • Common or Viviparous lizard Zootoca vivipara

  • Sand lizard Lacerta agilis

Four of the reptile species are relatively common and widespread (Adder, grass snake, slow-worm and common lizard) and may occur in a variety of locations, such as grassland, woodland edges, brown-field sites, quarries, coastal sites, and roadside verges. They are more common in the south of the country, where t is warmer, but can be found as far north as Scotland. The two rarer species, the sand lizard and smooth snake, only occur in specific sand-dune habitats around the coast of England and Wales.

Slow-worm under refugia

Reptile Legal Protection

The two rarer species,  the smooth snake and sand lizard, are European Protected Species (similar to bats, great crested newts and otters) and are therefore protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (as amended) and the Habitats and Species Directive (92/43/EC), which is enacted in the UK by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010).


These pieces of legislation make it illegal to;

  • capture, kill, disturb or injure them (on purpose or through negligence)

  • damage or destroy their breeding or resting places (even accidentally)

  • obstruct access to their resting or sheltering places (on purpose or through negligence)

The four more common species (grass snake, adder, common lizard, and slow-worm) are afforded partial protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (as amended), making it an offence to kill or injure these animals.

In practice this means that prior to works commencing on a development, mitigation must be put in place to ensure that the reptiles have been adequately protected from harm. Therefore, a site cannot just be bull-dozed without first removing or otherwise protecting the reptiles. However, a licence is not required to work with common reptiles. Although their resting places are not afforded any special protection (as with smooth snakes and sand lizards) all reptile species are classed as “Species of Principal Importance” under Section 41 of the NERC Act, as well as being listed as priority species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). This means that the local councils must consider the habitat needs of the species' as part of any local development plan. The continued provision of reptile habitat therefore has a bearing on planning decisions

Reptile Legislation

Reptile Surveys

In order to ensure that reptiles are protected and that there is no contravention of the laws protecting reptiles, a reptile survey should be undertaken on sites that have suitable reptile habitat, such as (but no restricted to);

  • Rough grassland

  • Woodland edges

  • Field margins

  • Quarries

  • Rocky outcrops

Reptile surveys are usually termed Reptile presence/likely absence surveys. They comprise a series of site visits to look for reptiles. However, in order to provide greater success, artificial reptile refugia or reptile tins are used. These are usually squares of corrugated tin or roofing felt that are laid out around the site, in sunny, or partly sunny areas where reptiles might be. One of our experienced ecologists then make regular checks over the course of a few weeks to see if any reptiles are either basking on top of or seeking refuge beneath these artificial reptile refugia.

Reptile Surveys

Reptile Mitigation

On sites where reptiles re found, a suitable mitigation strategy will need to be devised. SK Environmental Solutions ecologists are experienced in creating pragmatic mitigation strategies and reptile method statements in order to satisfy local planning conditions and to ensure the minimal disturbance to works programs.

Mitigation for reptiles is similar in some ways to great-crested newts, and can involve;

  • Destructive searches (actively looking for reptiles and removing them prior to works;

  • Reptile fencing (fencing off areas of the development site)

  • Reptile trapping (setting traps and removing reptiles from fenced areas)

  • Reptile transloction (moving reptiles to 'receptor' sites)

  • Habitat manipulation (slowly degrading the habitat on site so that reptiles naturally move elsewhere)


SK Environmental Solutions have proven experience in reptile surveys, habitat management, including receptor site identification, reptile translocations and and subsequent habitat creation and management.

Reptile Mitigation
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