Surveying Amphibians and Reptiles

Natterjack toad photo by Karl Charters 1/3
Adder photo by Lawrie Webb 2/3
Common frog photo by Neville Yardy 3/3
Amphibians and reptiles are enigmatic groups of animals. But, due to their secretive nature, they can be hard to spot. There are four species of native reptile and six species of native amphibian resident in Norfolk. Some of these are widespread but others such as the natterjack toad and palmate newt are much less common and are known to inhabit just a few sites. Surveying greatly assists in mapping the fortunes of these species so that new colonies can be discovered and the health of existing populations monitored. What a great excuse to get out during the spring and summer for a walk around some of Norfolk’s wonderful countryside searching for these elusive and enigmatic animals!

What can my survey results be used for?

  • Identify sites of local conservation value.
  • Help us to protect sensitive sites from damage or unsympathetic development.
  • Inform local land management plans.
  • Help to track population trends.
  • Raise awareness of the natural history of these wonderful creatures.
  • Help to map the distribution of these animals in Norfolk.

Why not start a simple survey today?

There are no specialist skills or equipment necessary for surveying amphibians and reptiles, although familiarity with the key features of each species will be required.       

For full species profiles and images of all resident Norfolk reptiles and amphibians visit the species explorer.

For a list of Norfolk amphibians and reptiles on the Biodiversity Action Plan click here.


Reptiles, amphibians and the law

All reptiles and amphibians are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, meaning it is illegal to sell or intentionally kill or injure them.

The great crested newt has additional special protection under UK law, making it illegal to catch, possess or handle them without a licence or to cause them any harm or damage their habitat in any way.

The natterjack toad is afforded the same protection as the great crested newt. In addition, even photographing natterjacks requires a licence. In view of the vulnerability of natterjack toads and their habitat it is not recommended that you actively survey this species.

If you do accidentally discover natterjack toads or great crested newts when surveying for other species do not attempt to handle them but make a record of your find and report it to:

Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service
Environment, Transport and Development
County Hall
Martineau Lane

Website: NBIS


When should we survey?

Amphibians and reptiles generally emerge from hibernation in early spring and are then very active with the business of seeking mates and breeding.
  • March to June is the optimum time to conduct surveys for breeding amphibians.
  • March to July is the best time to find the eggs and larvae of amphibians in ponds.
  • March and April is the best time to find basking reptiles fresh from hibernation.
  • August and September is the best time to look for young reptiles.
All species will begin to seek hibernation sites during October with hibernation generally taking place between November and February when they should not be looked for or disturbed.

Unlikely encounters?

Norfolk does have small populations of pool frog, marsh frog and edible frog. There are also likely to be small populations of terrapins and exotic amphibians which have escaped or been deliberately introduced into the wild.

Whilst the distribution of these amphibians is very limited, if you believe you have found one take a photograph and send it to us  at for identification.

Download reptile and amphibian survey forms here.

Reptile and Amphibian Survey Form (Survey Form F)

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
Microsoft Word document

Garden Reptile and Amphibian Tick-list (Survey Form G)

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
Microsoft Word document

Please remember to send your completed survey forms to Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS) – make your records count!

Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS)
Environment Transport and Development
County Hall
Martineau Lane

Website: NBIS
Email :

Snap away…

A digital camera can be quite useful during surveying either to record habitats, or to take a photograph of a reptile or amphibian that needs to be identified.

Need help identifying that mystery amphibian or reptile?

Upload your photograph here or email the photograph to


Take part in a wildlife workshop

To get details of amphibian or reptile workshops in Norfolk check out our event section.


For all your amphibian and reptile surveying needs…

Please visit the National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) website, where you can find guidance on how to survey, how to sumit records and more a wealth of other information on these fasinating species.