I was lucky enough to grow up in smooth snake country so have encountered a good number of these shy beasties.
Smooth snakes are Britain`s rarest indigenous reptile occuring at just a few areas of suitable southern heath. Where they do occur however, they can be locally abundant. They are not good at recolonizing however, as they do not traverse unsuitable habitat to do so as grass snakes for example are able to on occasion.
Nice smoothie in you`re image.
Nick Moulton from ARC was catching the ten animals from a well populated Dorset site for release at the Devon site. I have mixed feelings about reintroductions, but there has been an in depth pilot study conducted for E.N. by Tony Braithwaite where all options were thoroughly considered.
Prior to merging with Froglife and becoming ARC, HCT have an impressive record of succeeding with reintroductions. In the case of the sand lizard, this is largely due to Chris Davis and his skill with regard to captive breeding. Smooth snakes however present problems with captive breeding due to the amounts of lizards needed to feed the young snakes. David Bird caught up some smooth snakes from Ringwood quarry a good few years ago which were successfully reintroduced to prime Surrey habitat, which Surrey Amphibian and Reptile group (SARG) are still monitoring. As the action has already been taken in Devon, let`s hope that the initial nucleus of ten animals (no doubt there are plans to add to this next year) will be enough to expand a colony into the Devon heathland.