James Borrell is a biodiversity scientist and science communicator researching how people and nature can adapt to environmental change.

Citizen Science #4: Reptiles and Amphibians

Hooray for Herpetology!

April is the month of Reptiles and Amphibians. Spring finally seems to be on it’s way and with it will come some of the UK’s most exotic and exciting species.

I’ve been out on the hunt for critters in my local patch already, but unfortunately returned empty handed (and it started to snow). Nevertheless, I think it’s wonderful that even here in the UK we have wild creatures like Adders and Great crested newts.

So scroll down, get involved and let me know what you find.

Why Amphibians and Reptiles matter?

Here in the UK we have seven native species of amphibian (and a few cheeky non-natives) as well as three lizards and three snakes. Leatherbacks sometimes wander over too, but that’s a different story.

Unfortunately many species are in decline with habitats disappearing. This is a shame, because they have to be some of the most exciting species we have!

Click on the links below to head over to the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation trust species pages…

If you’re not sure you can remember all of those, then they do an App (who doesn’t!) Click here.

How to get involved!

Most reptile and amphibian monitoring schemes depend on volunteers just like you. It’s wonderfully easy to get involved, why not help survey your local area.

Here’s a few great projects:

NAARS: National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme

Having begun in 2007, NAARS has already generated a huge amount of information. They provide free ID guides, with detailed instructions on how to carry out your own survey. There’s special pages for our Adders having been found in just 7% of surveys over the first 3 years. They run training events, and if you’re curious, here’s some of the results so far! The first official report is due in 2014, so get involved.

If you sign up you’ll get allocated a 1km square to survey near where you live; take a picnic and you have the makings of a nice day out!

Toadsize 2013

Getting the measure of toads and traffic; studying road mortality in toad populations.

Add an Adder

Looking out for our declining adder populations. Have you seen one?

Alien Encounters

Looking for cheeky invasive critters like terrapins, African clawed toads, Midwife toads and the North American bullfrog.



Images: Colin Haywood-Gray & Piet Spaas

More Useful Links..

Identifying snakes in the UK: Video

More public surveys from the NHM

The ARC-Trust

UK Chytrid Survey

NAARS Partners

Given it a go?

I’m really interested to hear how you got on. I’d like to hear your success stories to encourage others, so please do leave a comment below!


To set you on your way here’s a scarily big Tree Boa (and a spotty teenage me) from sunny Madagascar.


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