Mammals and reptiles

Reptiles and amphibians

Surrey is one of only three counties in the British Isles which support all of the native heathland reptiles and amphibians, including the rare and specially protected sand lizard Lacerta agilis, smooth snake Coronella austriaca and natterjack toad Bufo calamita. Although the natterjack toad disappeared from Surrey in the late 1960s, it has been re-introduced from a nearby population in Hampshire and successful breeding has taken place. Native populations of the other species have survived in the county, albeit at a very restricted number of sites for the sand lizard and smooth snake, but sympathetic habitat management and re-introduction have established these species at a number of other sites. Despite recent improvements in their status, especially the sand lizard, all three rare heathland species remain vulnerable.

The Surrey heaths therefore, hold a position of paramount importance in the conservation of our indigenous reptiles and amphibians.


The most obvious and locally abundant mammal on heathland in Surrey is the rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus. The commonest rodents are field voles Microtus agrestis and wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus, found in the grassier areas, but two much scarcer members of this group occur on heathland in the county. Rank grass, especially purple moor-grass, can support harvest mice Micromys minutus and, in a few locations where this is close to small streams, there are important populations of water vole Arvicola terrestris which has long gone from the main rivers of the county. Foxes Vulpes vulpes, stoats Mustela erminea and weasels Mustela nivalis prey on smaller mammals. Roe deer Capreolus capreolus favour scrub invaded heath and areas developing into secondary woodland, though they have little effect on scrub control. In recent years, the introduced muntjac deer Muntiacus reevesi has spread into the county and may be encountered on heathland.

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Contact details

Project Manager – Dr Rob McGibbon
Senior Project Officer – Marcus Turley

Surrey Heathland Project, Artington House, Portsmouth Road, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4DZ
Telephone: 01483 579713
Fax: 01483 579740

The Heathland Project is supported by:

Surrey County Council, Guildford Borough Council, Waverley Borough Council, Woking Borough Council, Runnymede Borough Council, Ewhurst Parish Council, Witley Parish Council, Wonersh Parish Council, RSPB, English Nature, MoD and the Herpetological Conservation Trust

Surrey County Council
working in partnership
Surrey Countryside Management