Spring Ahead

B.bufo amplexus for blog

Common Toads, Bufo bufo, in amplexus with spawn (c) Adam Bland

Spring has officially begun in the North of England, and like many people I have been itching to get out and see some of our native reptiles and amphibians as they emerge from their long hibernation and begin their breeding season. Species that many people are most familiar with seeing this time of year are our Common Frogs, Common Toads and Palmate & Smooth Newts as they migrate to their breeding sites, usually ponds, and fill them with their spawn. In some areas, all of the above species may be found together, newts especially like to feed upon the spawn of frogs and toads so will often be found within their breeding ponds.

Z.viviparia close up blog

Viviparous Lizard, Zootoca vivipara, (c) Adam Bland

Perhaps less easily observed are our native reptiles, which are much more secretive when it comes to reproduction, and usually quickly disappear once disturbed. Although, on a clear day you may be lucky enough to see Viviparous Lizards this time of year basking in the first warm days of Spring, or perhaps even an Adder. Male Adders tend to emerge before females and may be observed sat basking in the sunlight close by to where they spent the winter hibernating, if disturbed they will quickly retreat back into these sheltered areas. Females emerge around April when males then begin to compete with one another for the opportunity to mate, in late Summer females then give birth to a litter of live young which are a miniature version of the adults and totally independent from birth.

V.berus for blog

A male Adder, Vipera berus, (c) Adam Bland

Adders are a species of viper, and the only species of venomous snake native to the UK. It is believed that they may be suffering population declines over much of their distribution in the UK; historically Adders have been heavily persecuted leading to them now being found within relatively limited ranges in England. These days although many people’s attitudes towards Adders have changed, they remain incredibly sensitive to land development meaning that it is very important that their habitat is conserved for their populations to remain stable. It is great to see this species in the wild, and if you are lucky enough to see one yourself remember that it is highly important to leave them undisturbed. Adders are shy snakes that are best observed from a distance, and they will usually quickly retreat at the slightest disturbance.

 

Native Reptiles & Amphibians           Common Toads            ARGUK

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