Latest news on downland reptiles

A REPTILE and amphibian expert has been hard at work searching for and looking after the various species that make their home on the Steyning downland.

Herpetologist George McCarthy has put various tins in place and the reptiles are now making use of them.

He is planning to put more out on the upper scrub areas.

George reported that adders were becoming increasingly difficult to find on the Steyning downland as the vegetation was growing rapidly.

Nevertheless he said he had managed to find three of the venomous snakes, two females and one male, as well as several slow worms, three grass snakes and a mating pair of common lizards on the hillside.

George said he was very pleased that more people had been stopping to talk to him, and finding out what he was doing.

He has also noted that the early purple orchids were beginning to show on the orchid bank.

In spring, dogs are prone to snake bites when let off the lead because adders will strike if they are not able to flee.

Dog owners are advised to keep their pets on leads when walking in the area around the rifle range, particularly in early May.

Adders are listed in the England Biodiversity Action Plan as needing conservation action to prevent further population declines.

According to the Steyning Downland Scheme, by taking a few precautions, dog owners can normally avoid encounters with adders at this time.