During lockdown many people have started to grow their own food for the first time and it is only to be expected that new gardeners want to protect their precious crops. One method traditionally used to do this is garden netting. This has prompted ARC to issue a reminder that garden netting can prove fatal for amphibians and reptiles.

Grass snakes in particular can become entangled in certain types of netting – notably loosely-secured plastic netting with fine strands that is commonly used to protect fruit and vegetables or over ponds.

Almost any type of netting left or stored on the ground poses a risk because it forms an attractive hiding place for snakes.  The close strands can trap them and they may die a slow death from injuries, exposure to the elements or attacks by predators.

Frogs and toads can get caught in such netting too, not to mention other species such as birds and hedgehogs.  Adders, the UK’s only venomous snake, seldom get entangled in netting as they are rarely found in gardens. The main exceptions are gardens next to nature reserves with favoured habitats such as heathland.

The best solution is to avoid the use of such netting when possible.  Where this is impractical, there are safer alternative forms of pond protection like a rigid grille or grating.  Wide-meshed, braided or cord-type netting are other options.

Full details of the issues and the safer alternatives are available in ARC’s leaflet Snakes and garden netting available on our snakes in gardens page. This leaflet also includes useful information about how to free a tangled snake and where to find further advice.