Table of Contents Hide
- Which Reptiles Do We Have in The UK?
- Why Are Reptiles Important for The UK Eco-System?
- How to Support & Encourage Reptiles in Your Garden
- Are You Ready to Welcome Reptiles Into Your UK Garden?
In the UK there is a bigger range of reptiles native to the country than many people realize. If you’re a fan of all nature, you might want to invite these cute slippery friends into your garden.
Even if you’re not keen on reptiles, the fact is that they are part of our ecosystem here in the UK and it’s important to support them. They also provide vital food to other animals you might enjoy seeing, like birds, in particular birds of prey.
If you would love to help reptiles thrive in your back garden, read on for some helpful tips:
Which Reptiles Do We Have in The UK?
In the UK there are six common species of reptile that are native to the country and they are:
Common European Adder
Vipers are the UK’s only venomous snake, which means they have had a hard time in the past through persecution. The fact is, they want to hide as much as you don’t want them to be around you and do a really great job of staying out of the way of humans.
If you do see one, the chances are they will try to hide again really quickly and have only come out to bask in the sun. They are also very beautiful to see and as they are becoming so rare, you’ll be quite lucky to encounter one of these amazing creatures in your garden.
Grass snakes are extremely well camouflaged and tend to blend really well with natural habitats like woodland and marshes. They can also swim, so they can be seen in ponds both in the wild and in back gardens.
Smooth snakes are a bit like grass snakes, so again you are unlikely to see one in the wild. Their main populations are in Surrey, Hampshire, and Dorset, which means there are the fewest of these kinds of snakes in the UK.
Slow worms look like snakes but they are actually lizards without legs. They have eyelids and ear openings and can be very small, with adults reaching 40cm at the most. They are very shiny and silky when seen and commonly spend time in all kinds of habitats both in the wild and in gardens.
The common lizard is the most common reptile in the UK and the only native to Ireland. They come in a range of colors and can be found in all kinds of habitats. You will most likely see one basking on a fence post or a gate in the summer, especially if you are hiking on the coastline or across the countryside.
Sand lizards are incredibly rare and they tend to only be seen in a few areas in the UK. They are bigger than common lizards and tend to be brown, although in spring the males are easier to spot because they are bright green.
If you’re unsure of the abundance of reptiles in your local area try checking out your local Wildlife Trust website page for information so you can get an idea of what you could see.
Why Are Reptiles Important for The UK Eco-System?
Reptiles eat lots of animals we all want to stay under control in our gardens such as slugs, snails, rats, and mice. They are also food for lots of animals like herons, birds of prey, and even foxes.
Helping them find refuge in the garden is a great way to embrace the local ecosystem as a whole, in the same way, we support birds and hedgehogs by feeding them. This is especially important as various studies have shown that with climate change and other changes, reptiles in the UK are increasingly under threat.
How to Support & Encourage Reptiles in Your Garden
There are many ways you can support reptiles in your local area by making some minor changes to your garden. Here are a few handy tips:
Create A Sunbed
A sunbed for reptiles is a sheet of material (like a corrugated sheet of metal) that gets warmed up by the sun. Reptiles like to use these sunbeds to hide under and sleep, eat or even lay eggs. You can find out how to make one using this RSPB guide.
Get Used to Messy
In the UK we have a bit of an obsession with keeping a pristine garden which might look good for us, but it is terrible for wildlife like reptiles.
Whilst it is a good idea to protect outdoor furniture in cheap self-storage at www.storing.com, or to keep the shed tidy by putting camping gear and other items in Storing.com’s cheap self-storage, there needs to be some mess to benefit the animals.
An overgrown corner is a great idea as it enables plants to grow that will give the reptiles shelter. It will also attract insects which will be eaten by the reptiles and other cute garden friends, like hedgehogs. If you can, add some native wildflowers to your corner, as well as tall grasses and brambles.
Cats are one of the biggest killers of snakes and lizards in the UK, and bells on their collars do not help because lizards do not hear well and snakes don’t hear sounds in the air. Instead, try to deter cats from your garden if you can, or ensure that any hiding spots for the reptiles cannot be accessed by cats easily.
Add A Pile of Wood
A woodpile that won’t be used for firewood can be used as a place for reptiles to hibernate and hide. It should be in a quiet part of the garden and it should be stable too. You could even push some leaves and other debris into some of the cracks to provide even more shelter for animals inside the pile.
Build A Pond
Ponds like to prey on amphibians like frogs so a pond is an excellent way to attract both types of animals, not to mention birds that will use the pond to wash and hunt insects.
Just make sure that there are ramps for easy access in and out (for animals like hedgehogs as well as snakes) as well as some grass around the pond, and no plastic netting covering it. If you do use mesh, try to use a rigid material with holes bigger than 1.5 inches to avoid snakes and other animals getting caught in it.
Provide Compost Heaps
Compost heaps provide you with free compost but they also provide lots of warm and moist material for reptiles to hide in and lay their eggs. If you do suspect that you have reptiles in your garden be careful not to disturb your compost heap during mid-June and September when the eggs will be most likely.
Are You Ready to Welcome Reptiles Into Your UK Garden?
Reptiles in the UK are under threat and it is important for us all to help these misunderstood and often undervalued creatures to remain part of this country’s ecosystem.
With some very small changes to your outdoor space, you could create a haven for slow worms, lizards, and snakes which will only bring excitement, free pest control, and some great memory-making potential to your outdoor space.