Nigel Hand, the well-known reptile ecologist, gave a fascinating insight into the reptiles of Herefordshire and Worcestershire when he gave a beautifully illustrated talk to the Malvern local group last week.
Nigel became interested in reptiles as a youngster in Stourbridge where they were common along the canals and local brown field sites. His passion has taken him around the globe to study them. Closer to home he's monitored reptile populations on a number of sites for many years and has built up an impressive photographic database of individuals.
There are four kinds of reptiles in our area: adders, grass snakes, slow-worms and the common lizard; the latter belying its name as it's becoming quite rare. Neither of the two other UK reptiles - the smooth snake and the sand lizard - are found here.
|Adder (c) Peter Preece|
Adder populations tend to be in small isolated pockets, leading to inbreeding. Nigel is involved in a project with the Zoological Society of London to collect adder DNA samples; scientists will then compare the samples to see if the smaller clan groups are genetically impoverished. Adders are born live during August and September and can live for up to 30 years. Pregnant female adders will feed only after giving birth. Their main diet is voles and they consume between 4 and 12 of these a year. Adders are quite small, being only 50-60cm long.
|Grass snakes (c) Rosemary Winnall|
|Slow-worm (c) Nick Button|
Nigel concluded by showing two exotic pet snakes (a corn snake and a milk snake) from his private collection. This was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative talk, emphasising the beauty of reptiles and how they deserve our protection, not our dislike.
Our next indoor meeting will be held on Thursday 1st December when Johnny Birks will give an illustrated talk entitled The Mammals of the Malverns. The meeting starts at 7.30 pm at the Chase Academy Sixth Form Annexe, Geraldine Close, Barnards Green WR14 3PF and we look forward to seeing you there.
Derek, Malvern local group