From finding my first snake (an adder) at the age of 8, I have always found them fascinating. As I got older this turned to a passion and I can honestly say that our native snakes mean the world to me.
I have been visiting some of my areas for the last 20+ years and although I didn't realise it at the time, I was actually surveying them. As I found more and more areas I started to make notes as to what species, sex and maturity of the snakes, which were there.
One thing I can tell you is that there is not one of my areas which has the same or more snakes today. They all have less!
The biggest decline was in 2010, yep just last year at one of my sites where my best counting day was 18 snakes in a 150 metres stretch, 5 years ago. Last year I counted just 6!
This is a drop of two thirds and it doesn't take a mathematician to work out that if this decline carries on, we could lose our snakes altogether!
My areas have not seen human encroachment, nor have they been disturbed. In fact they are virtually the same as the first time I visited them.
So what is it that is causing our snakes to either die or move away from their typical basking spots?
We have seen some pretty harsh winters over the last few years and this could be the reason for losing a few snakes, but the decline we are seeing is more widespread throughout the country, so I am not convinced that this is the cause.
The female adder and grass snake will not breed in consecutive years and this can give false survey readings unless you take an average over 4 - 6 years. NARRS, National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme have been surveying since 2007 and I have supplied them with data from day one. Their findings are accurate and this evidence confirms that like me, a lot of surveyors throughout the UK are seeing decline in their snake populations.
It is not just the adder and grass snake either.........
Please click below for full story from the BBC.
BBC - Adder in Decline