Garden Dragon Watch is ARC’s new online garden reptile and amphibian survey. Our gardens can be oases for reptiles and amphibians and that’s important when so many places that were once good for wildlife have disappeared. But just how many people are lucky enough to see frogs, toads, newts, lizards or snakes in their gardens? And how many gardens have habitat features that help amphibians and reptiles survive? ARC needs your help to find out!

Why get involved?

Many of us are worried about how wildlife is faring as we know that many species are in trouble. Gardens can provide important habitats for reptiles, amphibians and other wildlife. By doing Garden Dragon Watch you will learn what your own garden supports, and you might get ideas about changes you can make to help backyard wildlife thrive. Being outside in nature makes us feel good and our survey is a great opportunity to feel more connected to the nature on your doorstep, especially this year when we are spending so much time indoors.

By taking part, you can help ARC form a national picture of the gardens where the most and fewest amphibians and reptiles are found. We can use this information to provide better conservation advice and benefit wildlife.

What are we trying to find out?

Are some gardens or some parts of the UK especially rich in amphibians and reptiles?
Are many of us missing out on the hop and rustle of these fascinating species?

How do I take part?

Whether you’re 8 or 80, become a garden herpetologist (person who studies amphibians or reptiles). Take time outside exploring your own garden to find out whether amphibians and reptiles live on your patch and then tell us what you find.

Spend around 10 to 15 minutes looking in places where reptiles or amphibians are likely to be spotted such as in or around a pond, compost heaps, at the bottom of a hedge or garden borders, near logs, slates or rock piles. Tell us what you find (or if you don’t!). Fill in the Garden Dragon Watch online form with your results and answer a few questions about the habitats inside your garden and nearby.

You can do the survey once or many times. Ideally repeat the survey regularly, perhaps once a week  – these species can be shy and hard to find. By going out repeatedly you are more likely to find one and you will also learn how what you see changes through the season. You can adjust the amount of time to suit your own garden and the time you have available – Try to spend roughly the same time looking each time you do the survey.

What happens to my observations?

We will show the results on our website and report back on what people are finding. The species records you send in will be plotted on a national map and you can check the website to see how the picture (what has been found) changes throughout the year. If you encourage your friends and neighbours to take part, you’ll be able to get a feel for how what you find in your own garden compares with what others in your area find! We will use your observations to improve understanding of which reptiles and amphibians live in gardens and what garden features they like best. This will help us to protect them.

Help and resources

If you’re new to amphibians and reptiles, why not do our free Bitesize course? This will show you how to recognise the species you are most likely to see in the garden and how to find them. Find out more about reptiles and amphibians in gardens and how to help them by downloading our Dragons in your Garden leaflet. Check out our reptile and amphibian identification guides and other training resources and educational activities

Take part in the Garden Dragon Watch!