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RAUK - Archived Forum - Smooth snake finding doomed? holiday

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Smooth snake finding doomed? holiday:

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Joined: 06 May 2007
No. of posts: 1

View other posts by jerryd
Posted: 06 May 2007

Hi all,

I just joined this group because I had the idea of going on holiday this summer to see some smooth snakes. I live in Kent and have seen all other UK reptiles except sand lizards and smooth snakes (natterjack toads are rare too I know and also stranglely in the south-west for some reason???). I know they like in the south-west somewhere.

But when I read that there may only be 2000 left it seems it may prove difficult. I didn't know either that smooth snakes eat other reptiles which in a weird way means the more smooth snakes there are the less of everything else there will be, I guess. Don't know what the optimal smooth snake population is to keep everyone (reptiles) happy.

I have an economics background, not science, but aren't there problems with population sizes if there are only 2000 in it. They may not get enough DNA spread around maybe and all die.

Why can't smooth snakes live where other snakes live? In other words why is their (declining) habitat so crucial to their survival and why are they rarer than other reptiles here.

What's the chance there's at least 1 smooth snake in Kent?

Which hotel do I stay in to have the highest probability of seeing a smooth snake nearly if I go looking?

Even though I'm young it seems seeing one could be a lifetimes ambition.

I have seen common lizards, adders, grass snakes, slow worms in Kent but would also be interested in knowing any hotspots that have some of these fellers. Folkestone has some adders I seem to remember.

Hope someone can help.


Senior Member
Joined: 27 Feb 2007
No. of posts: 694

View other posts by AGILIS
Posted: 07 Jun 2008
hi Jerry try looking at Studland bay heaths  you have a chance of seeing a sand lizard or smooth snake but it takes a lot of patience and hard looking or you could just stumble upon some first time. as they do live in these areas keith
Senior Member
Joined: 02 Sep 2004
No. of posts: 1181

View other posts by Vicar
Posted: 07 Jun 2008
Heh...lots of points raised there.

The estimate of 2000 Smooth snakes is wrong. It was an estimate based on a set of assumptions. Some of these assumptions are 'best guesses' and need further research and survey to gain better confidence.

Although rare nationally, Smooth snake numbers can be quite high locally, where they do occur.

If there are any in Kent (which I doubt) your chances of finding it are effectively zero.

Smooth snakes are at the extreme of their native range here in the UK, hence they have very specialised habitat requirements. As a generalisation...heathland is the habitat they need to remain viable in the UK. As heathland has declined drastically over the last 100 have Smooth snakes (probably).

By contrast, the Adder's range extends right up to the Arctic circle, so we are comfortably within this range in the UK, hence it is not so dependent upon specialised habitat.

As always, the best source of advice is the ARG network. Definitely get in touch with KRAG for local hot spots. For Smooth snakes, I would recommend SARG (Surrey) or DARN (Dorset).

I'm on local heathland most weekends locally here in West Surrey, and normally have an interested party along with me. Drop me a line on the email link in my signature.

Steve Langham - Chairman    
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group (SARG).
Senior Member
Joined: 15 Mar 2006
No. of posts: 445

View other posts by arvensis
Posted: 07 Jun 2008
        Are you out next saturday afternoon?

Hampshire Amphibian and Reptile Group.
Forum Specialist
Joined: 05 Apr 2006
No. of posts: 928

View other posts by armata
Posted: 08 Jun 2008
Smooth snakes are not rare in S.Dorset, just localised. The numbers equal that of adders on some sites in Purbeck and Wareham area.
'I get my kicks on Route 62'
David Bird
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515

View other posts by David Bird
Posted: 08 Jun 2008
Numbers of Smooth Snakes exceed the numbers of Adders and Grass Snakes combined in some areas near Wareham.
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
Forum Specialist
Joined: 05 Apr 2006
No. of posts: 928

View other posts by armata
Posted: 09 Jun 2008
True David.
Also strange that in some areas they are syntopic with adders and grass snakes, but in other areas appear to be segregated. (e.g. Chris Reading's Wareham F. sites).
Also the population structure differs from adders. Males outnumber females and there are a high proportion of immature. This is also true for grass snakes.
Adders mostly have just a slight male bias with a low proportion of immature.

I realise that this will vary from different areas; but the above based on my findings from Wareham and Purbeck.
'I get my kicks on Route 62'

- Smooth snake finding doomed? holiday

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