The adder is the UK's only venomous snake and has received a bad press because of this. Contrary to popular belief, bites from adders are very rare and the vast majority occur when a snake is picked up. Most reactions to adder bites are mild. In the last century, 12 human deaths in Britain have been attributed to adder bites (this compares with several deaths every year due to insect stings). However, any bite should be regarded as potentially serious and immediate medical advice should be sought. If you see an adder in the wild, do not attempt to disturb it or pick it up.
Adders can vary in colour, from brown to black and whitish yellow. Their markings consist of a heavy dark zigzag pattern down the back with dark spots in rows on the flanks. At the back of the head there is a heavy "V" or "X" shaped marking and a dark band running from behind each eye.
Although Adders are rather stocky snakes they are not very big, seldom exceeding 60 cms in length, the males being slightly shorter, with a broad, angular head.
You can see the adders at Wildwood on a warm day (but not too hot!) basking in their enclosure. Look for a brown or black shape, often described as looking similar to dog poo!
Green lizards are native to the channel islands, and have emerald bodies and a distinctive blue head in the males. The British climate is not ideal for the lizard to live wild here.
You can see the green lizards Ours bred successfully in 2000 and have laid eggs every year since, but these have not hatched. Mature males and some females have blue throats, which are especially brilliant in the early summer mating season. Lizards can shed their tails if danger threatens, using muscle contractions to split one of their tail vertebra along a fracture plane designed for just this purpose. This leaves their attacker with a twitching tail to distract them, while the lizard escapes unnoticed to fight another day.
The European Pond Tortoise is sometimes known as the European Pond Turtle, but is more strictly a pond terrapin, as it is happy both in and out of water. They are common throughout Europe, and have been brought to the UK where they have started to naturalize. They are green-brown, with webbed feet and a pointed tail. They increase in size as they get older, reaching the size of a dinner plate! In the wild, they are found near slow moving or still bodies of water. They are omnivores, and often prey on tadpoles and young frogs, fish and other small water creatures, as well as eating vegetation.
They usually live in groups of between 5 and 20, and are active between April and October. They hibernate in the winter, usually buried in the mud.
You can see the pond tortoises on most days when they are not hibernating, balancing on logs across their pools or ranged around the edge.
The Common Lizards have long bodies and short legs. They have coarse scales which range in colour from grey through brown & bronze to green on the back. Males are generally darker than females. They also produce live young, hence their latin name.
Common Lizards are active during the day and spend the morning and afternoon (but not the intense heat of midday) basking in the sun either alone or in groups, going to find food when their body temperature reaches 30 degrees Celsius.
Look for sunny areas in the enclosures like lumps of wood or stones this is where you are most likely to see them.
The American Bullfrog is a large aquatic frog native to North America. The large eardrum helps to distinguish this species from other frogs and it also has a distinct "cow" like call.
The American Bullfrog is a voracious predator and a serious threat to British wildlife. The tadpoles of the American Bullfrog were at one time widely sold in garden centres but imports are now banned due to the risk of this invasive species establishing in the UK.
The marsh frog is not a native species of the United Kingdom, it was introduced to Walland Marsh, Kent in 1934, it is now found in several areas of Kent and East Sussex. Other introductions exist, including colonies in Southwest and West London.
More aquatic in nature than the native common frog, the marsh frog can be difficult to locate, quickly jumping into the water if disturbed. It has a distinctive laughing call and is rarely found very far from water.
The marsh frog is green and brown with black markings, and it has a bright yellow-green stripe running down its back. It's underside is a creamy-white.