Barnsley Biodiversity Trust logo Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. DRAFT Last Updated March 2021

Reptiles. A Grass Snake slithering into the water, a Common Lizard basking on a bare patch in the heath; these are welcome sights.


All native reptile species in England have declined in numbers and been lost from many areas, primarily due to habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation; they are all a national conservation priority.

Grass Snake and Common Lizard are present in some numbers in Barnsley. There are a few records of Slow Worm in Barnsley, and previous records of Adder, but not recent.


Reptiles spend their time on land, foraging, sheltering, and hibernating; they require both plenty of cover and, being cold-blooded, warm sites for basking to raise their body temperature. Heath, dry grasslands and indeed brownfield sites often provide these. Reptiles are generally not found in intensively managed farmland and highly built-up areas.


Grass Snake, the largest British snake, differs in its preference for wetlands from other reptiles. Grass Snake are found in undisturbed habitats in the river corridors of the Dove and Dearne. They can be seen around ponds, preying on frogs and toads, and inside a compost heap or beneath rotting leaves and reeds where they seek the warmth for their eggs.


The Common or Viviparous Lizard, so called because it give birth to live young, feeds on invertebrates such as insects, spiders and woodlice. In Barnsley it is found both on upland heath and brownfield sites in the Dearne Valley.

Grass banks, logs, walls, stones with cover near by.


Grass Snakes can forage over fairly large distances while Common Lizards stay close to small landscape features such as grass banks, dry stone walls and basking areas with cover nearby.


For further information on distribution, conservation and actions please follow the following links …

Local Priority Species. The two main priority reptile species are:

Grass snake (Natrix natrix

Common or Viviparous Lizard (Zootoca vivipara).


Grass Snake and Common Lizard are local priority species due to their national status and because there are sites in Barnsley with good populations which deserve conservation management.


The other two priority species of reptile that may be recorded in Barnsley are:

Slow worm (Anguis fragilis)

Adder (Vipera berus)


In Barnsley, sites with a good population (five or more individuals) of a reptile species would be considered for local wildlife site status.


A good population of a reptile (grass snake or lizard) would have 5 or more-individuals. 20 or more grass snakes would be exceptional as would more than ten common lizards.


In our region 17% of suitable sites surveyed had Grass Snake and 14% of sites Common Lizard, whereas this dropped to 10% Slow-worm and 3% Adder.
NARRS Research report 13/01

Grass snake near Dove Valley Trail Common Lizard