Britain's wildlife has a troubled past, how can we help protect wildlife for the future?

The Smooth Snake

Smooth SnakeThe smooth snake is one of Britain’s rarest animals, found only on some lowland heaths in southern England. It is a shy reptile, slim in shape and greyish-brown in colour, growing up to 60cm in length. Lizards are the smooth snake’s favourite prey, especially the sand lizard which is also an endangered reptile. It will also eat other snakes, small mammals and invertebrates. Non-poisonous, the smooth snake holds its victim in its coiled body while it gets into position to swallow the prey head first.

Reasons for decline - lowland heaths have been under increasing pressure from housing development, farmers, foresters, walkers and fires. As these endangered habitats have decreased in size, the smooth snake has decreased in numbers.

The future - the survival of the smooth snake in Britain depends entirely on whether or not the lowland heaths can be preserved. A few areas have been designated as special nature reserves but these must be carefully managed i.e. young trees removed (a heath will turn into woodland if left entirely alone) and walkers restricted to paths etc.  Reintroduction of the species has occured in several parts of the south.  Smooth snakes can now be found in Dorset, Devon, Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

Read More: The Great Crested Newt

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