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National wildlife charity prepares to save Scotland’s amphibians and reptiles

Amphibian and reptile conservation banner.

A new project aims to conserve amphibians and reptiles across the UK and save their disappearing habitats.

The ambitious new conservation initiative is led by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), a national wildlife trust, committed to conserving amphibians and reptiles across the UK and saving their endangered habitats. they depend.

Saving Scotland’s Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAAR) aims to address conservation and welfare needs and increase understanding of the country’s six amphibians and four reptiles over three years, engaging Scotland’s communities in monitoring their populations and improving habitats they call home.

Possibly our most recognizable amphibian, the Common Frog is distributed across Great Britain and Ireland, and can be found in almost any habitat where suitable breeding ponds are nearby.
Possibly our most recognizable amphibian, the Common Frog is distributed across Great Britain and Ireland, and can be found in almost any habitat where suitable breeding ponds are nearby.

ARC works in partnership with land managers, government organisations, partner NGOs and local groups to protect species and restore or create habitat features to enable native amphibians and reptiles to thrive in Scotland.

John McKinnell, NatureScot Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians Advisor, said: “NatureScot has worked successfully with ARC on projects for many years. We welcome this project which will continue the momentum of amphibian and reptile conservation in Scotland to which ARC has been a key contributor.”

Natterjack toad which is rare in the UK.
Natterjack toad which is rare in the UK.

Frogs, toads, newts, lizards and snakes, these hardy creatures are increasingly threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, pollution and the spread of disease. They have long been seen in gardens and in the countryside, being found atop Munros and basking in the heather and provide a vital indicator of how healthy the local environment is. However, there appear to be fewer sightings of snakes and toads in Scotland, implying that all native species are facing some sort of population crisis.

Janet Ullman, ARC Education Officer for Scotland, said: “Ten years ago, most primary school children I worked with had seen a frog or toad, many saying how they saw it in their garden, in a park or even on the sidewalk.

Slow worms are lizards, although they are often mistaken for snakes.  Unlike snakes, they have eyelids, a flat forked tongue, and can drop their tails to escape a predator.
Slow worms are lizards, although they are often mistaken for snakes. Unlike snakes, they have eyelids, a flat forked tongue, and can drop their tails to escape a predator.

“Today when I ask a class if they have seen less than half a frog or toad. This is not just an urban problem, but seems to be a problem throughout Scotland. We need people to be aware that a silent spring It’s not just the loss of birdsong, but also the loss of that chorus of croaking from our ponds and lochans.”

Rachael Cooper-Bohannon, ARC’s SSAAR project officer, highlighted the importance of citizen scientists in species monitoring. “ARC is an evidence-based conservation organization and we urgently need more people to record their sightings of amphibian and reptile species, so we can get a better idea of ​​how Scotland’s amphibians and reptiles are faring and what priority actions are needed.” They need to help conserve them.”

Through SSAAR there will be a variety of activities, talks and workshops for community groups and schools to help people appreciate their cold-blooded neighbors and do simple things like provide habitats in their gardens, as well as training and support for volunteers. surveyors

The project builds on ARC’s work in Scotland building on previous Beneficial Adder and Great Crested Newt conservation projects and has its own dedicated funding page at www.justgiving.com/campaign/SSAAR

For more information on volunteer opportunities and news updates visit: www.arc-trust.org/saving-scotlands-amphibians-and-reptiles to register your interest


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