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Protected species - amphibians and reptiles

What are they?

Collectively amphibians and reptiles are also referred to as herptiles.  There are six species of amphibian found naturally in Scotland; the common toad, the natterjack toad, the common frog, the smooth newt, the palmate newt, and the great crested newt.

There are three common species of reptile found naturally on land in Scotland; the adder, the slow worm, and the common lizard.  Additionally there is a colony of sand lizards on the Island of Coll which were introduced some time ago.  Several species of marine turtle have been recorded around our coast as well.

Find out more about amphibians and reptiles...

How are they protected?

Great crested newts, natterjack toads and all marine turtles are  European protected species and are fully protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended). This lists a number of offences in relation to these species and the places in which they live.

All of the other species found naturally in Scotland are given limited protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).

Offences in relation to great crested newts, natterjack toads and marine turtles

The following provides a summary of the offences in the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended) in relation to great crested newts, natterjack toads and marine turtles

It is an offence to deliberately or recklessly:

  • capture, injure or kill a wild animal of these species;
  • disturb such animals whilst using any structure or place it uses for shelter or protection (e.g. a breeding pond, a hibernation site); 
  • obstruct access to a breeding site or resting place of such an animal or to otherwise deny the animal use of that site;
  • disturb such an animal in a manner that is, or in circumstances which are, likely to significantly affect the local distribution or abundance of that species;
  • disturb such an animal in a manner that is, or in circumstances which are, likely to impair its ability to survive, breed or reproduce, or rear or otherwise care for its young.

It is also an offence to:

  • damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal (note that this does not need to be deliberate or reckless to constitute an offence);
  • keep, transport, sell or exchange or offer for sale or exchange any of these species or any part or derivative of one (if obtained after May 1994).

Note:  The sand lizard is not found naturally in Scotland and so is not given EPS status here.  However, since it is listed on Annex IVa of the Habitats Directive, it is illegal to possess, control, transport, sell or offer for sale or exchange wild specimens.

Other offences

The common lizard, slow-worm, and adder are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) against intentional or reckless killing and injuring and against trade (i.e. sale, barter, exchange, transporting for sale, and advertising to sell or to buy).  It is not an offence to possess these animals.

The four widespread species of amphibian, the smooth and palmate newts, the common frog and common toad, are also protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), but only against sale, barter, exchange, transporting for sale and advertising to sell or to buy.  It is not an offence to collect or possess these species. 

Licensing

Licences are available to allow specified people to carry out actions that could otherwise constitute an offence.  As with any protected species, licences can only be issued for specific purposes that are set out in the legislation.

If you are planning any activities that could affect protected amphibians or reptiles, you should make sure that you stay within the law.

Amphibian and reptile licensing

 

 

*Please Note* The summary of legislation and list of offences on this page are not comprehensive, and is intended for use as a guide only. For a definitive list of offences you should consult the actual legislation, both European and national. It is also important to note that this is the law in Scotland, elsewhere in the UK the legislation may differ.



Last updated on Monday 29th August 2016 at 09:52 AM. Click here to comment on this page