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Reptile survey training course

Course summary


The aim of the reptile survey training course is to introduce the knowledge and skills required to deliver commercial surveys in accordance with best practice guidance.


Course content




  1. conservation status;
  2. distribution;
  3. threats to populations, species range and species survival;
  4. ecology, breeding biology and behaviour of reptiles (including differences between species);
  5. known ecological requirements;
  6. legal protection;
  7. licensing and permissions;
  8. appropriate survey seasons;
  9. current relevant guidance on survey methods and standards;
  10. survey methods used to survey for reptiles and the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of these methods;
  11. range of factors that might lead to bias in the survey results, and false negatives;
  12. factors affecting surveying (e.g. current/previous weather, time of day, time of year, habitat characteristics, geographical location);
  13. sources of information on known occurrence and distribution (including NBN Gateway, national surveys, county atlases, local biological/environmental records and local contacts/Amphibian and Reptile Groups);
  14. metadata standards / data sharing; and
  15. health and safety issues commonly associated with surveying for reptiles (e.g. adder bites and ticks).


Skills (as theory)


  1. identifying reptile species and differentiating between similar looking species (i.e. between common lizard and sand lizard, or between slow-worm, smooth snake, grass snake and adder);
  2. identifying reptile field signs (e.g. sloughs, burrows, eggs);
  3. assessing habitat potential for reptiles, spotting ‘foci’ within habitats (e.g. edges/ecotones, ridges, hummocks, sunny slopes, brash heaps);
  4. determining appropriate spatial scoping for fieldwork;
  5. planning and implementing sound scientific surveys, selecting appropriate survey techniques for any particular situation (e.g. visual search, artificial refugia, or both);
  6. selecting appropriate survey conditions instinctively (current/previous weather, time of day, time of year), using knowledge and experience, and know when to cease surveying as a result of changing conditions;
  7. detecting reptiles using visual search (‘spotting’ skills, fieldcraft, identifying and sexing reptiles quickly and remotely, minimising disturbance);
  8. recording reptile sightings, photographing, taking notes, recording weather conditions and visit parameters;
  9. analysing and interpreting survey data;
  10. taking appropriate biosecurity precautions;
  11. taking appropriate health and safety precautions;
  12. making use of existing refugia and manmade basking places for detecting reptiles (discarded metal, wood, brash, litter, paths-edges, fence-posts);
  13. deploying and monitoring refugia effectively (suitable materials and sizes, deployment densities, ‘bedding-in’ period, locations, security, risks);
  14. detecting reptiles using artificial refugia (appropriate timing, safe lifting and replacement, hand capture, welfare).
  15. legally and humanely handling live reptiles;
  16. effectively recording biometric data from live reptiles; and
  17. legally and humanely marking certain reptiles.




First Ecology, Callow Offices, Shipham Road, Cheddar BS27 3DQ.




2018 TBC.










BOOKING ESSENTIAL: We are very sorry but we are unable to issue refunds if you are unable to attend the course for any reason.