RAUK - Archived Forum - Rhys to the Rescue

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Rhys to the Rescue:

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Senior Member
Joined: 26 Jun 2008
No. of posts: 79

View other posts by Mark_b
Posted: 13 Oct 2010
Over the last few weeks a program has been airing on BBC1
Wales called 'Rhys to the Rescue'.

Dr Rhys Jones is a Cardiff University Distinguished
Visiting Fellow and a consultant with Capita Symonds. His
Phd was entitled "British reptile conservation:
phylogeography and translocation studies"

The series involves him rushing around Cardiff and Vale
of Glamorgan saving native herps and escaped
exotic pets with rather dramatic music. Whenever our
native reptiles have been included in my opinion he
doesn't really explain anything very well and I think he
is advocating inappropriate behaviour.

For example in episode 3, a member of the public
contacted him as they had a snake in their garden. It was
a female grass snake sloughing under some wood planking.
He said how unsuitable this garden was for the snake (it
had a large lawn with a river at the bottom of the
garden, not an ideal natrix site but this location had a
habitat feature the snake required and sort out). So he
took her into captivity to make sure she shed her skin
properly (!?) and then afterwards released her into
more suitable habitat. It wasn't mentioned how far
this was
from the garden. In that situation I would have told the
owner not to worry, its harmless, if you don't mind can
we just leave the snake be.

Also in episode 1 he was showing an adder translocation
and how he pit tagged them to monitor their survival at
the new site. Nothing wrong with that, quite interesting
in fact (well apart from the fact they have to be moved
in the first place), but he didn't explain the
conservation issues, herps are declining etc and it was
all quite dramatic.

Anyway here are the iplayer links, episode 2 has gone for
some reason, but he was just trying to catch terrapins
out of a pond so you didn't miss much.

episode 1 - adders - 9 mintues in
              - 17 mintues 20 seconds in
              - 25 mintues 50 seconds in


episode 3 - grass snake - 1 mintues 20 seconds in
                 - 27 mintues 10 seconds in

Admin Group
Joined: 25 Jan 2003
No. of posts: 2090

View other posts by GemmaJF
Posted: 13 Oct 2010
Television dramatics!

Where did he get his licence to handle adder? I want one

Male adder are perfectly easy to intercept in summer
feeding grounds rather than only at the hibernacula and
exceptionally easy to intercept whilst mate searching in
the spring. They even come up to you to check you out!. I
hate to see tongs used on adder too. Strange mitigation,
no fencing, no ACO seemed a bit maverick to me.

Did I get the impression that rather than a 'real'
reptile mitigation we saw the capture of a few adders for
a tagging experiment with the excuse they were about to
go under the diggers Rhys?? I hope not.

We already know adder move anything up to 2km a season at
some sites, releasing animals into a known population is
always a bit of a no no too.GemmaJF40464.7188657407
Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Senior Member
Joined: 26 Jun 2008
No. of posts: 79

View other posts by Mark_b
Posted: 14 Oct 2010
episode 4 - slow-worms- 19 minutes in
           - grass snake eggs - 24 mintues in


I don't have any complaints about this episodes native
herp content. I think he deals with the situations well.

To put a more positive view on this series I can
appreciate to get this sort of program onto TV you do
have to make it a bit dramatic and at least it is raising
awareness somewhat.
Admin Group
Joined: 25 Jan 2003
No. of posts: 2090

View other posts by GemmaJF
Posted: 14 Oct 2010
Yeah you are right Mark I'm being over critical. It's actually quite entertaining.

Having been around a few film crews in the field (fortunately off camera) I know all too well how a simple event becomes a dramatic one.

Totally agree on the awareness issue. I wonder if he actually moved the grassy because he knew the house owner was very uncomfortable with the situation? He did say he would usually leave native animals in place.

I remember though very well  TP and others discussing tongs/pinning of adder. I don't do it but that is a personal choice I guess. I still would like to know more about the circumstances of the tagging exercise. As recapture for weights and measure was involved could photo ID and head scale counts have been used?  Just wondering what the drive was for using chips. Also after being found 250m displaced (I'm not at all suprised by this) was the adder heading back to where it was first caught or on an aimless wander? That is one question I would really like to see answered. For sure I do not think that translocated snakes ever just stay where they are put. One reason why I simply won't translocate snakes but will always release in-situ.

Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Paul Ford
Senior Member
Joined: 06 Sep 2006
No. of posts: 124

View other posts by Paul Ford
Posted: 14 Oct 2010

I've been watching this - very entertaining. Infact I'd recommend it!

I particularly enjoyed the bit where he was trying to catch some terrapins

Did you see it last night when he found the grass snake eggs in the barn?

He popped them into a tub (with no worries about keeping them upright or anything) and claimed with a retrospective voiceover that he could tell at the time they weren't viable - I assumed from this that (unsurprisingly) they just didn't hatch and he didn't want to admit it as this may damage his massive ego.

He also came to the conclusion that a nearby squashed snake in the road must have been the mother..........!?

He seems a nice fellow though and his heart is in the right place but he certainly seems to thinks he's the bees knees and knows everything about everything (which he clearly doesn't).

Like I say - very entertaining!


Admin Group
Joined: 25 Jan 2003
No. of posts: 2090

View other posts by GemmaJF
Posted: 14 Oct 2010
Yep Paul I agree he seems a nice chap and I'm a bit ashamed of having a go earlier to be honest. What I really admire is that he is quite infectious and quickly gets the public on-side so full credit for that. Certainly a case of more good than harm.

I'm sure much of it can be explained away by production team pressures too.

Mentioning no names but if anyone caught the television programme (unrelated to the above) with the 'stranded adder' desperate to find cover before darkness fell. What nonsense, fact was they never found any adders that day (though I did lol) and that female was one out of a bag 'prepared' earlier.

Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Senior Member
Joined: 06 Apr 2005
No. of posts: 860

View other posts by Suzi
Posted: 14 Oct 2010
I think Paul echoes some of my thoughts on this guy - massive ego and bees knees. Whilst things have to be full of drama nowadays to capture public interest I did feel some of it was fairly ludicrous. People like Gemma would be best to judge the realities of it really. Dumbed down also comes to mind. Still I guess it gets herps on TV.

- Rhys to the Rescue

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