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Refuge created for reptiles

A winter woodland ‘hotel’ for lizards, snakes and great crested newts was built in Haywards Heath when electricity workers teamed up with Mid Sussex District Council in Blunts Wood.

From Press releases - 25 June 2018 12:00 AM

Created for reptiles.jpg

UK Power Networks staff spent Friday (June 22) working with the council’s conservation and landscape officers to create a safe refuge for protected species and mini-beasts to move into this winter when they go into hibernation and need shelter during the colder months.

The team excavated a pit in the ground, filled it with logs and covered it in turf, ready for the arrival of the new guests in the late autumn. The group then created a second hotel for stag beetles. The refuges are known as ‘hibernaculums’, named after the act of hibernation.

The company’s legal team took part in the council’s ongoing conservation work through UK Power Networks’ volunteering scheme, Donate a Day, which gives the company’s 6,000 staff two days paid leave each year to volunteer in their local communities.

Robert Cooke, who lives in the local area and organised the challenge, said: “It was really good fun and the team worked really hard. I run through this woodland and walk my dog there so it was nice to support a project in my local community. Ironically I’ve got a fear of snakes and so I’m glad we didn’t meet any on the day and hopefully the new ‘hotels’ mean our paths don’t cross in the future.”

Sorin Caraiman, from the landscapes team at Mid Sussex District Council, said: “The team were brilliant, they worked really hard and managed to build two hibernaculums, one for lizards and another for stag beetles. They were great and they’re keen to come back.

“Hibernaculums are designed as a hotel for lizards, snakes and amphibians because it is warm and dry and they go there to sleep over the winter. They are cold-blooded creatures and they would not survive the winter without it. This will make a big difference over the winter.

“We have lots of great crested newts, because there is a pond near the hiberaculum, but the original concept was to build this for the common lizard following the translocation of over 1,000 lizards to this woodland from a local housing development site over the last two years. We have created these habitats for the translocation sites.

“Mid Sussex District Council cares about the environment and we preserve it as much as we can, including Blunts Wood, which is an oasis in the middle of the local towns and villages. We already have about seven to 10 above ground hibernaculums and this one is the first we have built below ground. Having volunteers helps a lot, so they are always welcome and we have a lot of friends groups that support our conservation work in Blunts Wood.”

Alongside the council’s landscape expert, the volunteers worked with Tim Hills, senior project officer in the South East for the charity, The Conservation Volunteers.