RAUK - Archived Forum - No Grass Snakes!!!

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No Grass Snakes!!!:

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Davew
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Joined: 12 Jan 2004
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Posted: 03 Apr 2007
My Grass Snake site appears to have died on me. Regular visits since the End of February have revealed nothing at all so far whereas in previous years I'd be seeing up to six big ones on most visits from the start of March. Amphibian (Common Toad, Common Frog, Palmate and Smooth Newts) and Common Lizard numbers are usual if not slightly up and there has been no habitat change or undue disturbance whatsoever. Badgers have finally colonised and have become regular (I drive through at night and see them every time) This year is the first time I've seen them in this area. Additionally Polecat numbers have boomed according to local farmers - not seen any myself but they are spreading in Cheshire and I do see ca 1 every month or so during night time drives elsewhere. Buzzards have also spread to a ridculous level now with at least 6 pairs around this site whereas there were none five years ago. Is it possible that one or more of these species could be causing the problems? I can't think of anything else at all. Most of the snakes at this site are so large that even if you don't see them you hear them thundering off but so far I've not even heard one - help.
james4
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Joined: 13 Nov 2006
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Posted: 04 Apr 2007
where about are you looking?
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Suzi
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Joined: 06 Apr 2005
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Posted: 04 Apr 2007

I would have thought it unlikely that anything has cleaned up all the grass snakes since their emergence this year.

How big a site is it?

Have you, or anyone else, got any tins or similar covers down? Might be an idea to put a few down if you have permission to see what appears. I know they often take a while to attract reptiles but you might be lucky.

I'd agree with Phil here and ask where do you see your grass snakes?  I see most of mine under tins and very few lying out. It's adders I see most of basking. I just wondered if they are about and you are not seeing them.


Suz
Robert V
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Joined: 06 Aug 2004
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Posted: 04 Apr 2007

dave,

As you have probably gathered, I'm having the same problems in Epping. Hope its not some sort of virus or freak weather pattern thats pushed up mortality rates. i can't explain it either. Like you, I have some hawks (not sure what they are) around, but generally, apart from cattle disrurbance, mush is still the same as in previous years.

Weird eh....

R


RobV
mikebrown
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Joined: 30 Jun 2005
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Posted: 04 Apr 2007

Dave,

If the Grass Snakes have declined, I would not have thought that Badgers or Polecats are to blame, as both those are largely nocturnal. However, Buzzards could be responsible.

Cheers,

Mike


Mike Brown
Merseyside ARG
armata
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Joined: 05 Apr 2006
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Posted: 04 Apr 2007
The explosion of buzzards is a likely cause but over time I would have thought, and not so suddenly as it appears in this case. Buzzards seem to have more success with grass snakes than adders; and once saw a kestrel with a small grass snake in its feet.

Don't forget crows, magpies an darn Pheasants they will take snakes up to 40cm maybe more.

I think also polectas were a significant predator on Borth Bog and on adders at Cors Caron (no grassies at Cors Caron).
'I get my kicks on Route 62'
Davew
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Joined: 12 Jan 2004
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Posted: 04 Apr 2007
The site itself is sort of a mini hotspot amongst a wider population area of several miles. It's basically a medium sized pond with a steep south facing bank and loads of ground honeysuckle, bramble and bracken. Basically I know the area that well I can sneak up on basking individuals and have even had feeding Snakes moving over my boots on several occasions and on memorable occasion up my trouser leg. Failing that a half hour wait will usually reveal at least one swimming around the pond. It was tinned about six or so years ago but with that felty stuff which didn't really work. The main problem is a lot of dog walkers, children etc pass nearby and if they see tins they'll will be removed, played with or dumped in the pond. Even worse they may be stood on as the felt sometimes was. Don't want to blow my own trumpet but I don't think I'm missing them but hopefuly this is the case. I've seen nothing to indicate an illness but then if they were to die Badgers would clean up the bodies as soon as it got dark. I know what you mean re the nocturnal bit but the hibernacula are in a very small area (old rabbit holes and subsidence on a fallen bank) is it possible that Badgers may have raided a couple of months ago whilst the Snakes were torpid. I'll keep looking and hopefully I am missing them but it's not looking so good. I'm going to try my other sites which although several miles apart are all really part of the same population. Corvids can be a problem but there are no significant population changes here and I've never noted any problems. Pheasants are practically unknown but you never know what's going to take a Snake. Last year I saw a Blackbird trying to pick up a three footer!!!
armata
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Joined: 05 Apr 2006
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Posted: 04 Apr 2007
Badgers are busy buggers, and I think you may be on to something. If they took them during excavation, as an opportunistic feed. How much new badger signs are there since last year or so?

Badgers wiped out part of a grassnake/adder hibernacula a few years ago on a Purbeck site; so its not unknown.
'I get my kicks on Route 62'
Davew
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Joined: 12 Jan 2004
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Posted: 04 Apr 2007
Badgers only seem to arrived in the area over the last few months and I'm not sure where the set is as yet. The hibernacula, or one of them, is in a forever crumbling bank. This has definitely not been turned into a set but could have been raided I suppose although there's no obvious signs.
John Newton
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Joined: 19 May 2005
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Posted: 05 Apr 2007

I would hang-in there and see what happens when/if we get any rain. Humidity this morning (6-00am) is 39%. Here in Derbyshire, we have had north/north easterley drying winds continuously over the past few weeks, and both Chris Monk and myself reckon this may have something to do with the increasing disappearance of local adders - either that or a pre-slough dispersal of males (only one/two females turned up so far).I spent 10 hours on the local moors last Saturday, and only managed to turn up 4 animals in decent weather. Coupled with that, I have noticed a significant decrease in the numbers of local grass snakes observed this Spring (didnt see any last Saturday at a local site), so it would be interesting to hear if other folks are experiencing similar trends.  


John Newton

South Yorkshire ARG
AGILIS
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Joined: 27 Feb 2007
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Posted: 05 Apr 2007
I have had the same prob this year not sighted any or heard one and the site  I go to has always been prolific and often sight two at once or hear them swishing away. I still think the weather has been to cold hope it picks up. specialy over night  and dont forget grass snakes are also nocturnal feeders in good warm weather     KEITH AGILIS39177.0590393519
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID
Davew
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Joined: 12 Jan 2004
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Posted: 05 Apr 2007

Yay - big fuss over nothing, as usual  Saw two mating individuals today with a least one or possibly two others attempting to join in. Oddly the pair appeared stuck together. The largish female was dragging the male all over the place and eventually into the pond where he went under and didn't appear to come up - is it normal for them to become stuck or was I misreading the situation? Only got one poor photo of the female as she entered the water.


Robert V
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Joined: 06 Aug 2004
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Posted: 05 Apr 2007

Dave,

I've seen that several times and yes the males do go through a rough time in heather etc. i even posted a pic on here once, showing a mating pair that I'd picked up and were still at it when I put them back down again, but I wouldn't recommend anyone do that, just in case vital organs get damaged! Eeek.


RobV
Robert V
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Posted: 15 Apr 2007

Tony,

looks like you were right....Or at least partially right. I got skunked by my first small grassie of the year in EF, then saw this. I didnt have the heart to stamp on the nest but I was sorely tempted.

R


RobV
james4
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Joined: 13 Nov 2006
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Posted: 15 Apr 2007
why did you want to stamp on the nest?
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armata
Forum Specialist
Joined: 05 Apr 2006
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Posted: 15 Apr 2007
Because pheasants eat snakes and lizards, and they are reared for sport and are alien.
'I get my kicks on Route 62'
will
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Joined: 27 Feb 2007
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Posted: 15 Apr 2007
I'd echo John Newton's comments re adders getting hard to find - one site of mine has gone down from 25-30 post-emergence to 4-5 adults last week, though I'm still finding grass snakes; I also suspect dry warm weather - reckon some adders have gone from hibernation to aestivation ?!  I'd be interested to see what happens when / if it rains in the south ..

Will


Deano
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Joined: 23 Aug 2005
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Posted: 16 Apr 2007

About this time last year I found a grass snake that appeared to have been bitten by someones dog. 2 holes, about1/4 way down its body. The vet I took it to agreed this must have been what happened. And after the wounds had scarred over I released it back were I found it (a popular place for dog walkers). I wonder how often this kinda thing happens...................

 


Deano
Better to be lucky than good looking.

- No Grass Snakes!!!

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