How to Help Amphibians and Reptiles
Amphibians need damp areas and ponds, reptiles require open spots where they can be warmed by the sun. However, both groups need cover and habitats that support their food - in most cases invertebrates. Any feature that includes one of these things is going to be attractive to amphibians and/or reptiles.
Ponds don't necessarily need to be large to attract wildlife, so another way to introduce water into the garden is to create a mini-pond. These may be used by amphibians to cool off in during hot weather. All you need is a container (large tub, old sink, half-barrel) which you can fill with water and aquatic plants. Your mini-pond can be sunk into the ground or, with safety in mind, left standing; if this is the case, make sure there are plenty of pebbles, logs and plants in and around the pond to provide access for wildlife.
- The Million Ponds Project, led by Pond Conservation, is aiming to create an extensive network of new ponds across the UK. To learn more >>>
- Just add water is a national campaign to encourage the public to dig wildlife ponds in urban areas. To learn more >>>
Placed in a sunny, south-facing position, compost heaps or bins make excellent reptile habitats, particularly for slow-worms. They are often found buried within them, feeding on the numerous slugs and ants found there. Amphibians may also forage or hibernate in a compost heap. Make sure there are gaps underneath your compost bin or heap (so it's not completely sealed in) for creatures to get in and out. Piles of old grass or leaves also work well.
If the compost heap is covered with an old carpet or tarpaulin this may encourage the slow-worms to hang around a little longer. Checking under the cover can be a great way to get a closer look at the creatures living in your garden.
To learn more about making your own compost heap >>> pdf
Placing logs in piles around your garden can provide excellent daytime refuges for foraging amphibians. As well as providing cover from the sun, dead wood attracts invertebrates on which amphibians and lizards can feed. Log piles can also provide common lizards with basking spots. Allow vegetation to grow around and through the log pile to provide maximum shelter and encourage more insects.
o Use a mixture of wood and different sized logs with the bark on, such as beech, oak, ash and elm.
o Adding a pile of leaf litter can attract even more creatures, such hibernating toads or hedgehogs.
o You will need to add new logs as the old ones decay over the years.
Hibernaculum refers to a place of abode in which a creature seeks refuge and hibernate to survive the winter. They are permanent below-ground structures that provide shelter for hibernating reptiles. Constructed hibernacula should face south, preferably along a sheltered wooded edge.
To learn more about buiding your own hibernaculum >> RSPB Advice Building a hibernacula.mht (178,8 kB)