Reptiles & Amphibians

Three native species of reptile and five native species of amphibian have been recorded at Hartlebury Common and Hillditch Pool. The most likely encountered reptile is the Common Lizard which can be found basking in south facing aspects during spring through to autumn. They are very wary and easily disturbed and often heard frantically scurrying off through the undergrowth. Grass Snakes may be encountered basking near the edges of the reserve’s pools and the snake-like Slow Worm, which is actually a legless lizard, can also be found on the Common. All 3 British newts: Smooth Newt, Palmate Newt and Great Crested Newt have been recorded at the Common but the status of the latter 2 species on the site is currently unknown due to both The Bog and Rush Pool completely drying out in recent summers. Common Frogs breed at The Bog and Rush Pool whilst Common Toads breed at Hillditch Pool.

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

If you are having a quiet walk on the Common on a warm, sunny day you may hear a scuttling in the leaf litter, or catch a quick movement by the path; this could be a Common Lizard and if you are very still it may re- appear.  These small lizards hibernate during the winter, re- emerging in the spring and, unlike many other reptiles, after mating it incubates its eggs inside its body so the young are ‘born’ rather than hatching from an externally laid clutch of eggs.  They have another clever trick –   if they feel threatened, they can shed their tail, which will detach, still wriggling, so distracting the predator while they escape.

Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)

The grass snake is a non- venomous snake often found in damp or wet places.  It is a very good swimmer and feeds mainly on frogs and toads, with the occasional tadpole, fish or even a small mammal if it has the chance.  They lay their clutch of eggs in holes or rabbit burrows, or under logs or stones.  If they have suitable habitat and can avoid predators, such as buzzards, they can live to around 30 years of age.

Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis)

Slow worms are actually legless lizards, although they may look like a small snake.  They like basking in sunny spots but with plenty of vegetation where they can hunt for insects and other invertebrates.  They belong to a family called the Anguids and their fossil remains have been found dating back to 40 million years ago.