Snakes on a Plain – Sarah-Jane Walsh


The University of Essex has a thriving Environmental Sciences department but little is known about the biodiversity of our own campus. This summer, the university initiative ‘Frontrunners’ alongside the Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund (TALIF), funded an in-depth ecological survey which was conducted and organised by staff and students. Weekly surveys covered; bats, birds, butterflies, moths and reptiles within the areas surrounding the lakes and the Quays meadow. The surveys proved a huge success encountering 97 species overall and finding several species considered rare or in severe decline.

One of the most interesting and maybe nerve wracking finds for many of those ophidiophobes out there, was the 33 Natrix natrix individuals spotted, or for those of you not adept in Latin, the European Grass Snake! These were mainly found in artificial basking spots, although one particular feisty individual was chased down in the plain behind ‘The Houses’ accommodation. This was…

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