||This page has been prepared for the "UK
Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the
needs of the following species: Coronella
austriaca - Smooth snake, Natrix
natrix - Grass snake, Vipera
berus - Common viper, Anguis
fragilis - Slow worm, Lacerta
agilis - Sand lizard, Lacerta
vivipara - Viviparous lizard.
are from the families Colubridae,
(Sea turtles are not commonly presented as wildlife casualties in the UK and their
requirements have not been included in this module. If a live turtle requires rescue
and rehabilitation, expert assistance should be sought from an organisation with
appropriate expertise and facilities: Sea
Life Centres, zoos (which may be contacted via the Federation
of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland) and large aquaria.))
Accommodation for casualty reptiles must be escape-proof: a tight-fitting lid is
berus - Common viper)
- These snakes are poisonous.
- It is important to use a container which doe not have any gaps through which the snake
- May be transported within a plastic dustbin (V.w31,
or a bucket with a lid (V.w32).
- The lid should be close fitting to prevent escape and well-secured from the outside, but
should not be difficult to remove or there is a risk of getting bitten while removing the
- A dustbin lid may be secured on the outside with e.g. bungee cords.
- Bins are available about 2ft to 2ft 6 inches deep (60-75cm deep) designed with catches
so that the lid locks into place when twisted but is easy to remove by turning back in the
- A cloth bag such as a pillowcase tied closed at the top may be used as an alternative.
- Great care must be taken if transporting inside a cloth bag that this is handled in a
manner which does not allow the snake to bite anyone through the bag, i.e. the body of the
bag is not touched or held near to anyone.
austriaca - Smooth snake, Natrix
natrix - Grass snake
- May be transported within a plastic dustbin, a bucket with a lid, or a cloth bag such as
a pillowcase tied closed at the top. (V.w31,
- Small plastic aquaria with a trapdoor opening and ventilation holes in the lid.(B151)
- Remember that snakes are escapologists and will escape rapidly from any non-secure
- Small plastic aquaria with a trapdoor opening and ventilation holes in the lid.
- Container needs to include no gaps which might allow escape.
Short term (Immediate/Emergency) Accommodation:
- Any solid container (e.g. plastic, glass or laminated wood) with a tight-fitting lid but
which provides sufficient ventilation.
- Provide bark or a box to allow seclusion.
berus - Common viper) should be left within a secure container such as a plastic
dustbin and transferred to the care of a person or organisation with appropriate
experience and facilities.
Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation:
- Plastic or glass vivarium, or a laminated wood vivarium with a glass or perspex front.
- Lid must be escape-proof but allow sufficient ventilation through small holes.
- Newspaper is a suitable substrate, being easy to replace for maintenance of hygienic
- A full spectrum light including ultraviolet light should be provided (e.g.
"Trulight" - Durotest Laboratories).
- It is important to replace full spectrum light bulbs at intervals as indicated in the
- A combined thermal/light source is preferable for basking:
- e.g. incandescent incubator bulb;
- at a distance and/or with wire mesh shielding sufficient to prevent direct contact
between the reptile and the bulb, which would risk burns;
- at one end of the vivarium, to provide a temperature gradient between the two ends of
- Check the temperature where the reptile will be under the light (i.e. at the
correct height under the light), both with a thermometer and by checking that a hand held
at the basking spot is warm but comfortable.
- Native reptile species are normally maintained at temperatures similar to ambient
outside temperatures, being maintained no higher than the low 20°C's and with heat
sources turned off at night to provide a "normal" night-time drop in
- Provision of a temperature slightly higher than normal may be useful for casualty
animals, however too high a temperature is likely to result in abnormally high activity
- Temperature for slow worms of 20-25°C has been suggested (B151).
- Provide a temperature gradient:
- Reptiles have a preferred body temperature (PBT) which varies with factors such as
species, age, time of year and metabolic processes (e.g. reproduction, healing).
- Reptiles maintain their body temperature at the required level by behavioural means
- Provide a refuge, natural if possible, under which the animal may hide.
- Provide water, sufficient for submerging, in a shallow dish.
- Humidity within the accommodation may be increased by spraying with a mist nozzle (e.g.
- Provide a moisture gradient.
- Appropriate-sized rocks or logs to aid skin shedding are required.
|Appropriate Use (?)
Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation is designed for the
short-term care of individual animals or groups of animals, particularly during treatment
- Short-term (Immediate / Emergency) Accommodation is designed to be used
for a short period of time only, e.g. prior to examination, to allow basic first-aid to be
carried out, while an animal requires intensive care, or while specialist accommodation is
- The most important requirements are warmth, quiet and dark or dim lighting.
Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation facilities for
wildlife are generally larger and more complex than accommodation designed only for
- Hospital accommodation is commonly constructed with hygiene and easy cleaning as the
main considerations, but the specific needs of the patients, including behavioural needs,
should also be considered.
- In general this type of accommodation is not suitable for animals which require daily
- A period in rehabilitation accommodation may be particularly important when an animal
has been hospitalised for some time.