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discover the creepy crawlies
new forest reptile centre

New Forest Reptiles

The New Forest is a fantastic day out for all the family; the beautiful national park is packed full of things to do when you visit. The vast woodlands, expansive heathlands and beautiful coastlines are also home to some fantastic New Forest wildlife. From the infamous ponies to the deer, birds, and cows to the lesser noticed reptiles.

The New Forest is home to all six native reptile species found in the UK. You may be lucky enough to spot reptiles during a walk through the woodlands or heathlands or if you visit one of the wildlife centres in the New Forest.


You can spot adders by their distinctive zig zag patterns that run the length of the body. The zig zag pattern is typically a dark grey which covers a light brown body.

The best place to find an adder is any area of open heath, along the pathways and tracks throughout the forest on a sunny day where they will be basking in the sunshine, but not too far from cover.

Although poisonous if bitten, most incidents only arise when they are provoked so please don’t touch them and get medical (or veterinary) advice if you are bitten.

Grass Snake

The most common snake in Britain is the grass snake which is also the longest. Grass snakes can be identified by its yellow collar and olive body and black spots/lines space across the back.

They can usually be found by water sources as the grass snake is just as good in water as it is on land, and they enjoy hiding in dense undergrowth. Look for them in boggy areas, streams and around the larger ponds, such as Hatchet and Eyeworth Ponds.

They are non-venomous and will likely play dead or release an odour if under threat.

Smooth Snakes

Smooth snakes can be identified by its grey/brown colouring and are often confused with adders.

The smooth snake is very elusive and will rarely be seen. The New Forest’s sandy heathland is one of the few places you can find the smooth snake in the UK. The secretive snake will spend a large proportion of its time hidden away in shallow sandy burrows.

Sand Lizard

The sand lizard was once almost extinct in Britain, however due to successful breeding programmes and legal protection they are again on the increase.

There are few places that they live, with the New Forest heathlands being one of them, along with sand dunes. You can spot a sand lizard by its broad appearance, its mottled brown bodies and vibrant green flanks which can be found on the male lizards.

Slow Worms

Slow-worms do not bask in the sun as they are found throughout the damper and more heathy areas of the New Forest. They have bronze, brown or grey shiny skin with a metallic appearance. Slow-worms are often mistaken for snakes but they are actually legless lizards.

Common Lizard

Common lizards are smaller than sand lizards and are the most popular seen reptile in the New Forest. They are usually grey-brown to dark brown with some spots and blotches and found in open heath and grassland.