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Where is the best place to find wild reptiles, and is it possible to attract them to one's garden?

Sent in by Seb Brixey-Williams, London

The UK has six species of reptiles. Grass snakes and slow worms are the most likely to visit a garden. Grass snakes are usually found near aquatic habitats where they can find their favoured amphibian prey. Therefore, a pond could encourage these snakes and a wide variety of other wildlife into your garden. Grass snakes need cover, but also some clearer areas where they can bask.

Slow worms are legless lizards. They can be found in a variety of habitats but generally avoid very marshy or very arid areas. They prefer habitats with plenty of cover, but small sunny patches to bask in. Slow worms spend a lot of time under ground so areas they can dig into, such as compost piles and loose soil, could encourage them. They are also often found hiding under piles of rubble, stones or metal.

Find out more about attracting reptiles to your garden

The other four species are unlikely to visit gardens. Adders and common lizards are quite widespread through the UK, but prefer open areas such as heathland, moors and woodland rides. Sand lizards are found on lowland heaths and coastal sand dunes in Dorset, Surrey and Merseyside. Smooth snakes are the most restricted of all our reptiles. They have very similar habitat requirements to sand lizards and their strongholds are in Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey.

Reptiles are best looked for in Southern England. They can be difficult to see as they spend a lot of time hidden.

They are best looked for on warm, sunny days when they come out into open areas to bask. Look in small clearings or on top of rocks.

Spring mornings are best as it take them longer to warm themselves up following a cool night than it does in the summer. Warm days following a period of bad weather are also good times to see them. They can be easily disturbed so you need to walk slowly and keep to paths.

Our Arne nature reserve in Dorset provides the opportunity to see all six species at one site.

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