Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SciFri: A quick fieldwork update

As many of you will be aware, I am almost 2 months into my PhD fieldwork. So far it’s had it’s ups and downs which have been mainly in part due to the weather and the somewhat unpredictable nature of the snakes. I’ve had almost 200 captures now which represents just over 100 snakes (although I am still yet to clarify the recapture rate). One of the questions I have been getting is what are the refugia made of. My refugia are made of Onduline (as photographed below) which is a corrugated bitumen composite usually used in roofing applications.

The barred grass snake (Natrix helvetica) is quite common and widespread species throughout Great Britain and western Europe, yet we don’t really know much about them. It’s that classic case of studying the more exotic stuff as it’s ‘more fun’ and neglecting the species that are on our door-step. One of the main things I want to accomplish during the course of my PhD is to fill some holes in the current knowledge by studying my population as intensively as possible.

For example, it is often reported that grass snakes feed mainly on amphibians. As someone who studies amphibians, I know they aren’t around at all times of the year so what could the snakes be eating during the other times? Could they be feasting on small mammals, birds or even each other? I intend to find out my carrying out analysis on grass snake faeces. Interesting eh? Hopefully I should be able to answer a number of questions like this throughout the course of my PhD that will shine a light on the hidden life of grass snakes.

For the next edition of #SciFri I’ll be answering your questions, so please leave comments on this post or get in touch via Twitter!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *