Reptile Spotting Guide

With the sunny weather, temperatures rising and the arrival of spring there have been more and more reptile records coming in through the Facebook pages – Jersey Wildlife and through our online form.

Its surprising on such a small island that you are never too far away from spotting a reptile. If you have never see one before or are a regular lizard spotter the feeling of seeing them close to home is stunning.

Green Lizard and Grass snake under a refuge mat

Green Lizard and Grass snake under a refugee mat

We have four species of reptiles on Jersey – Slow Worms, Grass Snake, Wall Lizards and Green Lizards.
Slow Worms:

Looking very much like a snake these guys are actually legless lizards. Like many lizards they have the ability to shed their tails to escape predators which is called autotomize. They grow up to 50cm and the juveniles of both sexes are gold with brown bellies and sides. Adult males and females look slightly different with a black strip running along the side of body of the females. In Jersey the slow worm distribution is mainly in the west along Les Mielle Nature Reserve, St Brelades and Noirmont. There is also a population in the east along Grouville Golf Course.

Slow worm, photo credit Archive

Slow worm, photo credit Archive

Slow Worm

Slow worm distribution, 2017

 

Grass Snakes:

They are non-venomous snakes that are often sighted near water as they feed almost entirely on amphibians. Spotting them is tricky due to them being camouflaged in long grassland. Typically the species is a dark green or brown colour with a yellow collar behind its neck. The Grass snake is the rarest reptile in Jersey. Historically they were numerous across the island but their numbers have declined dramatically. Now the grass snake has recently undergone a population survey to help see how many are left and where they are found. This survey identified key areas that were used by the remaining population: Noirmont, Ouaisne, Les Mielles Nature Reserve and La Moye Golf Course. The species has also been spotted elsewhere but the largest population is found in the west.

Grass snake: Photo credit: unknown

Grass snake: Photo credit: unknown

Grass snake distribution 2017

Grass snake distribution 2017

 

 

Wall Lizards:

The only reptile in Jersey that is introduced, meaning its been brought to the island by man. Historically they arrived on the island from France. Wall lizards are small and thin, generally a brown to grey colour with sections of green. They are found in the east of the island with the largest population located at Mont Orgueil Castle. There are smaller populations mainly near fortifications: Fort Leicester in Bouley Bay, Rozel Fort, St Aubin’s Fort, Victoria Tower and Coronation Park.

Wall Lizard at Victoria Tower, photo credit: Alan Gucquel April 2017

Wall Lizard at Victoria Tower, photo credit: Alan Gicquel April 2017

Wall Lizard distribution, 2017

Wall Lizard distribution, 2017

 

Green Lizards:

They are probably the most iconic of all Jersey’s reptiles, with the striking green and blue colours they are a perfect model for photographers. They are a large species , growing up to 15cm. Males are bright green with a bright blue throat and females have the same bright green colouration but with a duller blue throat. Found in many coastal areas they prefer long grasses within a sand dune system. They are found across the island with the largest populations located in the west along Le Mielles Nature Reserve and along the east coast Grouville Golf Course.

Green Lizard, photo credit: David Tipping

Green Lizard, photo credit: David Tipping

Green Lizard distribution, 2017

Green Lizard distribution, 2017

All of Jersey’s reptiles are protected under the Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law with prohibits the disturbance of these species and also protects their habitat. This includes looking under refugee mats, unless you have the required licence for monitoring these species. Please don’t lift refugee mats as this impacts on the monitoring of the species as they often get disturbed and move away from the area before recorded by the monitoring staff.

If you have any recent sighting of these species let us know by sending us your sighting: here

 

Written by Sarah Maguire, Education and Outreach Officer, April 2017

 

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