Pawsome pair of world first newt-sniffing dogs get to work in Hitchin

hitchin newt sniffing dogs

Rocky and Arnie are two world-first, specially trained dogs that can detect great crested newts - Credit: Network Rail

Two newly trained dogs, who are the first scientifically proven newt detection pets in the world, have been out and about sniffing for a protected species in Hitchin.

Rocky and Arnie form part of Network Rail's newest team that has been working in Hitchin to detect great crested newts - a protected species by law.

The innovative method sees the dogs go out on detective duty before essential works on the tracks take place next month.

The dogs were trained for their world first careers after research and trials with Atkins, Wagtail UK and Natural England.

Great crested newts are normally found in ponds, woodlands or grasslands, but the amphibians are able to make it onto Network Rail sites.


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After a good sniff on the railway and around the worksite, neither Rocky nor Arnie found any evidence of great crested newts, meaning the work can be carried out as planned.

Steve Hughes, Programme Director for Network Rail, said: “It’s amazing to see how quickly Rocky and Arnie managed to cover the worksite in Hitchin and check if there were any great crested newts. This method will save valuable time and reduce delays to vital improvements to the railway.

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“As we work to protect the environment and increase biodiversity near the railway, the detection dogs will help us protect great crested newts, so they can then be moved to suitable habitats.”

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