Despite its name the slow-worm is actually a legless lizard! (Not a worm or a snake). Slow-worms are usually between 40 and 45cm long when fully grown. Many people initially mistake the slow-worm for a snake.
The slow-worm can be found across Britain but is most common in the south and east of England. They can occupy a range of habitats and tend to take shelter under sheets of iron, stones and planks of wood rather than basking in the sun. Slow-worms feed on slugs and snails and other slow moving insects.
Reptile translocation & habitat creation in Gloucestershire
Site: Lydney, Gloucestershire
Client: MMC Land and Regeneration
UES was commissioned to produce a suite of ecological reports in order to discharge a number of planning conditions at a development site in Lydney, Gloucestershire.
This document was produced to provide site personnel and management with a framework for carrying out the construction, whilst ensuring that environmental impacts are minimised to negligible levels.
UES liaised with the project design team and local planning authority (LPA) to provide a landscape and planting plan which protects and enhances the overall site ecology. This included input into the initial habitat creation works and advice on managing and maintaining those habitats in the future to retain their ecological benefits.
Due to the presence of reptiles on site, certain mitigation and compensation measures were required prior to the commencement of works. This included the capture and translocation of low populations of slow-worms and common lizards . The location where captured reptiles were released, the receptor site, required enhancements to tailor the site for the incoming species. As such, a HMP was produced to detail how suitable habitats would be created and how they should be managed into the long term to benefit reptiles and other wildlife. UES was subsequently commissioned to implement the HMP.
The following enhancements were made to the reptile receptor site in order to maximise the potential for wildlife:
• A mound was reshaped to provide a larger south-facing bank, on which reptiles can bask.
• Common reeds were cut back in some areas and bare earth was seeded to establish a tussocky grassland, which is favoured by common reptile species such as common lizard.
• In other areas, the reedbed was opened up and pond scrapes were excavated and allowed to fill naturally. This will benefit a number of bird species as well as grass snakes.
• Artificial hibernacula were created for reptiles and amphibians using logs, bricks and brash cuttings, which will provide shelter and hibernation opportunities.
• Scrub was cut back in some areas to provide a wetter habitat within the reedbed.
• A suite of bat, bird and invertebrate nest boxes were installed around the site.
Once the initial habitat creation works were complete, the development site was enclosed using HDPE (high-density polyethylene) fencing and reptiles were trapped and relocated to the receptor site by UES ecologists. Low populations of slow-worms and common lizards were translocated.
A period of management and monitoring will ensue at the receptor site, with the objectives of increasing the population sizes of reptiles on site and encouraging other wildlife onto site.
Further bat surveys and a European protected species licence application are scheduled for 2017.