Shedding the Myth: Reintroducing the Grass Snake

8 November 2018

Many British wildlife species, such as hedgehogs and watervoles and grass snakes, once a common sight, are now in decline. Suitable habitat is disappearing due to pressures from development, pollution and climate change. Remaining habitats become isolated; animals find it difficult to move around and find shelter and food. 

The wetland habitats grass snakes favour are disappearing as land is drained or ponds filled-in.  These majestic, non-venomous reptiles are particularly vulnerable, finding it difficult to move between suitable habitats if a new housing estate or road is built in their way. Numbers of grass snakes have crashed across County Durham (and the rest of the UK) and there have been no valid records for the past 10 years. 

Durham Wildlife Trust will work with partner organisations to source donor grass snake eggs, which will be incubated and hatched.  It will train and help volunteers to survey wetland sites in south Durham around its flagship nature reserve, Low Barns, a site that would be suitable for grass snakes.

It will also work with local landowners to ensure the young grass snakes are reintroduced into suitable locations. Volunteers and local people will play an important role in surveying, monitoring and raising awareness about the importance of grass snakes. This will help them become established again in the local area and protect them for the future.  

This project will

- raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity and the plight of British wildlife, including the grass snake and other reptiles

- provide tips about what we can do to help wildlife flourish in our local areas, such as leaving areas of dead wood as shelter for small animals or feeding the birds and helping communities to work together to improve communal greenspaces which will provide habitat for grass snakes and other creatures

- if succesful, be repeatable in other areas.