WHILE most are enjoying the April sunshine and soaring temperatures at the beach spare a thought for the cold-blooded reptiles who might be trying to cool off in the undergrowth. Snakes especially are not the most popular creatures on most people’s list of favourite animals. With the warm weather comes the awakening of wildlife including snakes. This specimen (pictured) was found at the side of the road at North Dock today, Sunday (Apr 21).
Geraint (The Snakeman) Hopkins has been involved with the conservation of British reptiles and fauna for over 35 years. There isn’t much Geraint doesn’t know about the common or garden and exotic snake.
He gives the following advice for anyone who might come across the slippery snake while out and about enjoying the Welsh countryside.
“All reptiles and amphibians in the UK are protected under the wildlife and countryside act. The snake in the photograph is a common grass snake.
“We aim to educate people that certain wildlife including reptiles are common in some areas and although some people may be afraid, there’s no need to panic. Grass snakes have an important part to play in our eco system. I’d advise people to keep dogs on leads although grass snakes very rarely bite.
“When walking in the countryside, it’s best to wear sensible footwear. We understand that in the lovely weather we’re having that flip flops etc are more appropriate for beach areas but taking a spare pair of shoes and changing while on the beach would be advisable. Adders are frequently seen around beach areas and they also are protected.
“Grass snakes are a protected species native to the UK. We have asked that councils provide signs or notice boards with information on native species for a number of years. This has been quite effective in Neath and Port Talbot areas. Grass snakes play a large part in our eco system in keeping down mice and rats. I understand people’s fear over reptiles but we aim through conservation to educate and remove fear. Grass snakes typically don’t want to bite. They will feign death and at worse will squirt a musky odour from their anal glands.
“Lambing season is also upon us and we should respect the countryside. As a dog owner and dog lover myself, I would never allow any of my dogs to chase sheep, swans or ducks etc. The countryside is there for us all to enjoy responsibly.”