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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. sand lizardR.jpg (5584 bytes)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. These heaths, therefore hold a position of paramount importance in the conservation of our indigenous herptiles and, having due regard to all conservation objectives, management prescriptions and regimes should take particular account of this position.



The most obvious and locally abundant mammal on heathland in Surrey is the rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus. harvestmouseR.jpg (7388 bytes)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 the smaller mammals. Roe deer Capreolus capreolus are favoured by scrub invasion and its development into secondary woodland.