Cornwall is an excellent county in which to see all the ‘common’ species of reptiles found in the UK. Cornwall’s terrestrial reptile fauna consists of two snakes and three lizards; the Adder; the Grass Snake; the Slow Worm; the Common Lizard and the Sand Lizard. Cornwall is a UK stronghold for the Adder, but the UK’s rarest reptile, the Sand Lizard, exists at just one re-introduction site. The Isles of Scilly has just two introduced reptiles; the Grass Snake and the Slow Worm.
The Adder (Vipera berus) is particularly associated with heathlands and coastal grasslands. The Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) needs similar habitats but also adjacent wetlands in which to hunt its favoured prey. The Grass Snake is much less frequently recorded than the Adder and this situation gives much cause for concern. The Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis) is a legless lizard and like the Common or Viviparous Lizard, (Zootoca vivipara formerly Lacerta vivipara) they are found in many open habitats. Slow Worms favour gardens and Common Lizards can be seen in Cornish hedges.
Three species of turtle are also part of the area’s reptile fauna; the Leatherback Turtle, The Loggerhead Turtle and the Kemp’s Ridley Turtle. All three are occasional visitors to Cornish waters.
How to identify
Recording Groups and Scehemes
If you are interested in reptiles in Cornwall then the Cornwall Reptile and Amphibian Group (CRAG) based at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, offers advice and training to prospective recorders and is keen to attract active members.
CRAG is affiliated to the Amphibian & Reptile Groups of UK.