PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:09 17 October 2016
Copyright: (c) Susan Hall
A glimpse of one of Britain’s reptile species adds a thrill to any walk. Here’s where to find these ancient, mysterious and long-lived animals in Devon
Reptiles are fascinating animals that can sometimes sadly be forgotten about when talking about interesting and exciting UK wildlife.
They have evolved from prehistoric beginnings to the animals you see today and the variety is astonishing. Most lay eggs, but some give birth to live young, they live in an array of habitats and, contrary to general expectations, are often quite shy.
Perhaps you might be lucky enough to come across one basking on a rock to warm themselves, or maybe you’ll need to do a little more searching. However, these creatures are more than worth the wait to see. Sadly, due to loss of habitat, some of these reptiles are very rare, which makes a sighting even more spectacular. It’s so important that we protect important habitats to ensure that we do not lose our native reptiles and The Wildlife Trusts reserves are working hard to do just that.
So would you like to try and meet some of these amazing critters? Head to these sites in Devon for your best chances:
Bovey Heathfield nature reserve is a real reptile haven and is a unique nature reserve as it has been rescued from a trashed site of burned-out cars and fly-tipping to a colourful lowland heathland of heather and gorse, along with great dragonfly ponds and stonechats and green woodpeckers on the woodland fringe.
Visit on a hot day and you have a good chance of seeing slow worms and common lizards basking on the patches of bare earth. Grass snakes and adders also make use of the many corrugated iron ‘reptile shelters’ that have been placed around the reserve – feel free to look in the shelters, but please do not touch!
Stapleton Mire is a Culm grassland site rich in nationally rare plant and insect species. The reserve was acquired by Devon Wildlife Trust from a farmer who had farmed the land in a traditional way for many years, thus maintaining the diverse site we see today.
The Culm grassland communities are very rich and this reserve hosts a variety of wildlife, from roe deer to barn owls to marbled white butterflies.
Adders have been recorded regularly on this site - perhaps you will be able to see one if you visit this diverse reserve!
Rackenford and Knowstone Moor
Rackenford and Knowstone Moors together with the adjacent Hares Down, represents the largest remaining block of Culm grassland in Devon, a habitat that was once widely distributed across the north of the county but, through changes in agricultural practice, has become greatly fragmented and localised. It is designated SAC and SSSI for marsh fritillary butterflies and Culm grassland (purple moor-grass pasture and wet heath).
Adders and Slow-worms can be found here thriving in the rare grassland.
Wherever you live there is a Wildlife Trust that covers your area. You can support their work by joining your local Wildlife Trust today. Visit www.wildlifetrusts.org to choose the Trust you would like to join.