Quantock Reptiles

These are some of the reptiles the rangers have spotted on the Quantocks.

Adders

  • Adder

"Patterns"

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Adders are Britain’s only poisonous snakes, but they are very timid, so you don’t often see them. If you do see them, basking in gentle spring sunshine, their dark zig-zag markings make them easy to recognize. The males can be up to 60cm long. The females are bigger, up to 76 cms, and are browner than the males. Adders like open places like heaths and scrubby hillside, where they live on occasional meals of small animals like mice and voles and sometimes frogs, lizards and toads. They can live up to ten years, and their main enemy is man.

Slow Worms

  • Slow Worm

‘Worm’ is an old name for ‘snake’. However, the slow worm is neither a worm nor a snake, but a completely harmless legless lizard. Slow worms vary in colour from a beautiful coppery brown to a shiny metallic grey and can grow up to 45 cm long. They like to live on sunny hillsides or banks with plenty of hiding places, and feed on slugs. From October to March they hibernate underground. Their main enemies are hedgehogs, adders, kestrels and rats.

Lizards

  • Lizards

Heathland is an ideal habitat for lizards. When they first emerge from hibernation in the spring they bask in the sunshine to warm up, well camouflaged and motionless. They are very nimble, and dart away quickly to hide if they are spotted. In the autumn, they hide in cracks and under stones to hibernate. Lizards eat small creatures like spiders. They are food for larger creatures especially birds of prey who spot them from above. They can shed their tails to escape and grow new ones (but these are never as good as the original!)

Grass Snakes

Grass snakes can be light or dark greeny grey, with a pattern of black patches. The female can be up to 120cm long. They choose warm places like manure heaps to lay their eggs, which hatch in August or September. Grass snakes feed on amphibians like frogs and are good swimmers, so look out for them in damp places near water. Badgers, large birds and hedgehogs will eat grass snakes.

Dragons

  • Dragon

No-one knows for sure how the Quantock Dragon story started but carvings like this pop up in many Quantock churches. They are made to look like reptiles. Perhaps they are a combination of real snakes and lizards, the story of the Serpent in the Bible, and fossilized dinosaur bones found on the beach.