Halt, major toads ahead in Hitchin - and grass snakes, too!

David Willis with a grass snake.

David Willis with a grass snake. - Credit: Archant

Spring is in the air – and it’s not only humans who are getting excited at the prospect of warmer weather.

North Herts hosts an abundance of amphibians and reptiles who are stirring from their winter slumbers – including toads, frogs, newts and snakes.

David Willis, co-ordinator and founder of the Hertfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Group said this week: “Spring is the time of year which sees toads and frogs, and other reptiles and amphibians emerge from their winter hibernation.

“Toads and frogs and newts will be moving to ponds to begin mating and breeding.

“Toads normally return to the same pond they have used the previous year.

“However, in order to reach previously used sites they often have to cross busy roads to get to where they want to be – which obviously creates a hazardous situation for them in terms of avoiding traffic.

“At the same time frogs will also be on the move to lay their characteristic clumps of spwan – whereas toads lay strings of eggs.

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“These migrations will be occurring all across the country at the moment including North Herts and St Ippolyts.

“Conservation groups are looking to help these amphibians through surveying their numbers because their numbers are falling nationwide and in North Herts. “As the weather warms you can also find other creatures emerging from their winter-long slumber including the UK’s most common snake, the grass snake.

“They move from hibernating to starting to hunt for food. Their diet will include amphibians and fish which are to be found in and around banks of water.

“These snakes are completely harmless and fascinating to watch – but don’t be surprised if you see them in and around ponds in North Herts – including the one near Redcoats!”

Find out more about the work of the group online at www.groups.arguk.org/harg.