Around Halloween we all have lots of fun dressing up and carving pumpkins, but some animals, including snakes and toads, are shown unfairly as scary or spooky. We’ve pulled together interesting Halloween-themed and myth-busting facts to help show that amphibians and reptiles are fascinating, not frightening

  • Many lizard species can shed their tails if they feel threatened. If a predetor gets too close they drop their tails and the piece left behind keeps moving as if it has a life of its own to cause a distraction while the lizard makes its escape.
  • The adder is the UK’s only venomous snake. They often get bad press but they are very timid and tend hide away from people and pets. If you are lucky enough see one out basking in the sunshine please be sure to admire it from a distance.
  • Lots of people think that snakes are slimy but they actually feel more like soft leather! This is especially true of the smooth snake which doesn't have ridges down the middle of its scales like other UK snakes.
  • There is an old wives’ tale that toads can cause warts. This is not true. The 'wart-like' bumps on a toad’s skin are actually glands that produce and secrete toxins that serve to defend toads from predators and do not contain the virus that causes warts in humans.
  • Our three UK snake species do not create 'nests'. Parents don't hang around and once the babies are born (in the case of smooth snakes and adders) or hatch from their eggs (for grass snakes) they quickly disappear to find food and shelter.
  • Reptiles are sometimes called ‘cold-blooded’ but this isn’t really accurate. They are actually ectotherms, or ectothermic, using environmental heat sources to regulate their body temperature which varies throughout the day.
  • If threatened, grass snakes sometimes pretend to be dead by going limp, sticking out their tongues and secreting a foul smell. They then seemingly rise from the dead when predetors have moved on.
  • Although they look like snakes slow-worms are actually legless lizards. You can tell because they have eyelids and ear openings whereas snakes don't! They are a great garden visitor and love to eat slugs.
  • Never mind sleeping with one eye open this Halloween, snakes sleep with both open! That’s because they don’t have eyelids, just transparent protective scales over their eyes.

Now you’ve learned more about these fantastic beasts why not make your garden more amphibian and reptile friendly with tips from our ‘Dragons in your Gardens’ leaflet.