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The New Forest National Park is home to all six of the UK’s native reptile species:

  • Adder
  • Sand lizard
  • Slow-worm
  • Grass snake
  • Common lizard
  • Smooth snake.

Reptiles are cold-blooded vertebrates with dry skins, and they derive their body heat directly from their environment. They like to bask in warm, dry areas with good surrounding cover so that they can escape if a predator approaches. Open areas with sandy soils that heat up quickly are the best habitats for them and this makes the New Forest with its heathlands an ideal area.

Heathland destruction elsewhere means that the New Forest has become an important haven for them. In winter they hibernate underground and emerge again the following spring.

Lizards are carnivorous. They have eyelids and can therefore blink, unlike snakes. They can shed their tails when they are attacked; the tail will re-grow.

Snakes are legless reptiles: as they grow they shed their old skin, which peels away as a papery cast of the animal’s body.

If you want to see a snake or lizard in its natural environment, try looking on south-facing slopes, on logs, along the edge of scrub and in areas with mature heather.

All of the native reptile species can be viewed at the Forestry Commission’s New Forest Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst.


Lead Ranger


'To help ground nesting birds rear their young safely, keep yourself, dogs and ridden horses on the main tracks from the beginning of March to the end of July.'

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