Revealing Reptiles – A day in the life

John Grundy News, Revealing Reptiles

John Grundy, Revealing Reptiles Project Officer, shares an insight into a day in the life of the Revealing Reptiles project. Read on and see how you can get involved in this fantastic project.


John Grundy, Revealing Reptiles Project Officer

Towards the end of each month I plan out the survey calendar for the next month. Once I have all the Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays filled out with visits to exotic places across vice county 66 I email the list to all of the volunteers, so they can plan which ones they would like to attend (Click here for a list of upcoming Revealing Reptile Survey & Training Dates).

Blog posts & raising awareness

Each week I research and write a blog post for the Revealing Reptiles blog about something to do with things affecting or benefiting reptiles. These can be local issues or more national themes, as well as facts and observations of reptiles in the field.

Social Media

Using an automated posting system I can queue up a weeks worth of social media posts to be launched on several different platforms each day. I used to tweet on the spot, from the locations I was in across the county, but after several hefty phone bills for data usage I have had to schedule my tweets and social media activity from either home or office. The Reavealing Reptiles Project has a Twitter page, Facebook page and Linkdin page as well as the Revealing Reptiles blog. A good presence online helps to reach as many people as possible.

Surveys & Training

The surveys consist of meeting the volunteers at a predestined point. Giving a briefing to any new members and setting off to have a look round the area for reptiles. The more experienced volunteers are often happy to scout ahead or take newer volunteers with them. This means a wider area can be covered with more eyes on the ground. Surveying itself is a slow process. You can wander for hours scanning the ground intently, staring into dense undergrowth. Lifting timber or stones. Then after what seems like a lifetime, you look up to find you’re still only a couple of hundred meters from the starting point. I vary the locations as much as I can between semi rural, suburban, uplands, coastal and lowland park or agricultural sites. Even woodland can be considered if it isn’t too dense. Wetlands, heathlands, Local Nature Reserves, derelict brownfield sites, SSSI’s the options are huge.

Contacting landowners and getting permission to survey their land opens up even more places to cover. Especially if we can put out refugia – artificial cover objects (ACOs) like corrugated tin or roofing felt squares. These sites can be a real bonus if they are private and not accessible to the public and their dogs. The less disturbance in an area the better, from the reptiles’ point of view.

Having the chance to explore all the DWT reserves before the project began this year (2017) was an excellent opportunity to see the habitats and management practices being used to keep these unique places in good order. Many of the reserves have potential to support reptile populations, indeed some do. We hope that by working with the reserves teams we can help to encourage reptiles into and sustain them on the Trusts’ reserves.

Occasionally I get called upon to deal with reptiles found in unusual places like busy shopping streets or suburban gardens. These are often exotic species which have either escaped or been deliberately abandoned. My three days as Revealing Reptiles Project Officer are varied and busy – join me and help safeguard the future of reptile populations across the region. Get involved: email me on


John Grundy

John has spent more than thirty years honing his skills as a spotter of our region’s elusive and well-camouflaged reptiles. He can often be found wandering the moors of Durham looking for signs of life in the undergrowth. As the Revealing Reptiles Project Officer John frequently delivers reptile survey training to groups and individuals.

Report your reptile sightings here