Within the AONB we have four of the six species of reptile that occur in the UK; The Common or Viviparous Lizard, Slow Worm, Grass Snake and Adder. The two other British species are the Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca) and the Sand Lizard,(Lacerta agilis) both of which are now very rare and have a very restricted distribution within the UK.
Of the four species of reptile in the AONB only the Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis) can be commonly found across the area.
The Common Lizard (Lacerta vipera) is widespread but localised and it remains at highest concentrations on areas of dry grassland and remanant heath such as Coppett Hill.
Similarly the Adder (Vipera berus) favours dry acid grassland and heathland and has become increasingly restricted within the AONB particularly in Herefordshire. Populations of adder on the Woolhope Dome have continued to dwindle despite recent efforts to improve its habitat and the populations may now be too small to be viable. Populations continue to occur on Coppett Hill where a melanistic form has been found (a black adder!) and they occur at various locations in the Monmouthshire and the Gloucestershire parts of the AONB including Staunton Meend, Beacon Hill, Wet Meadow, Whitelye and Tidenham Chase.
The Grass Snake (Natris natris) is reported to have declined, having been abundant in the past it has disappeared from large areas, possiblity as a result of the loss of farm ponds and small wetlands that they like to inhabit and the associated loss of common frog, one of its favourite prey items.
A partnership between the AONB Unit, Ross-on-Wye Town Council and Natural England have started tree management work on the banks of the Wye where it passes through Ross, to benefit biodiversity and create river views.
If you are 14-18 years old and love exploring the countryside of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, then the Wye Valley AONB Youth Ranger programme is looking for you! Come along to our Taster Day on September 30th.