Coppett Hill
Coppett Hill

Natural History: Fauna: Reptiles


Reptiles are part of the family Reptilia -  scaly skinned animals which are cold blooded (ectotherms) – this means they rely on external sources of heat to keep their bodies warm hence their habit of basking in the sun.

Four of the six native reptile species are found within Herefordshire and on Coppet Hill.

The adder and viviparous lizard are particularly localised within Herefordshire both species preferring sandy soils and heathland habitat typically with swardy grassland, gorse, bracken and short scrub.

All reptiles are declining with the adder recognised as being under the most dramatic decline particularly within the Midlands.  This decline is largely due to persecution, habitat loss, agricultural intensification and unsympathetic habitat management.

If you happen to see a reptile on a walk please do not attempt to pick it up or disturb it


Common or viviparous Lizard Zootoca vivipara

Common on heaths and moors.  Their food is mainly insects and spiders – young are born alive from June to August.  They hibernate from October to February and adults may attain 14cm in length. This is the only terrestrial reptile species found in Ireland.

Slow worm Anguis fragilis

This is actually a legless lizard often mistaken for a snake but it is harmless it frequents dry habitats including heaths, commons and hedge banks and hibernates from mid-October to February, size up to 50cm

The Slow worm, sometimes called the blind worm is neither blind nor a worm but a legless lizard and can lose its tail if threatened by a predator.  They produce live young and have been known to live up to 50 years. They are the gardeners’ friend since their favourite food is the slug.  They are not poisonous and have many predators.

Adder Vipera berus

Once common and now threatened by persecution and habitat loss. It is our only venomous snake. Found in dry open country distinguished by the zig-zag stripe down its back, they give birth to live young and hibernate from October to February.  Adult adders feed on rodents such as voles and mice.  Young adders take lizards, frogs and young voles & mice.  The adder grows up to 60cm in length.

Grass snake Natrix natrix

This is the largest snake in Britain and is completely  harmless – it is easily recognised by the pale ring on its neck. Grows up to 1 metre in length.  It hibernates from October to March and lays white leathery eggs in warm places such as manure heaps or compost heaps.  This snake is regularly found near or within water where it hunts its prey of frogs, newts & fish.


All native reptiles receive legal protection in Great Britain, arising from the following main items of legislation:

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)

      Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010

To have four of the six species of reptile within the landscape of Coppet Hill is extremely significant and conservation management plans should take them into consideration.  It is essential populations are able to prosper and maintain connective habitat for healthy genetic populations as reptiles are declining in our fragmented countryside.

Mary Rowberry 04/2013

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© Friends of Coppett Hill, Coppett Hill Trust 2013