Reptiles and construction sites


HED Ltd have been involved in a number of different development projects this year, with more on the horizon and a busy summer ahead of us. We are seeing more and more interesting animals appearing across large scale construction projects. Scotland’s reptiles are already making an appearance. Favourable habitats for reptiles are typically grassland, edges of woodland and dry heathland. With construction sites usually clearing an area and laying stone to form site compounds or access roads adjacent to heathland habitats, the cold-blooded reptiles will use this as an opportunity to bask in the sunlight on the warm stone and raise their internal body temperature (ectothermic).

Common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) – photographed on a construction site access track.

There are three common terrestrial species of reptile native to Scotland.

· Adder (Vipera berus) is a snake and Scotland's only venomous reptile;

· Common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) (also known as the viviparous lizard);

· Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) is a legless lizard which can be misidentified as a snake.

Adder (Vipera berus) – photographed on a construction site platform

The adder you can see in the picture above is a scenario where I was walking around a storage yard at a site compound and did not notice an adder under my feet. As I walked behind a pallet of concrete blocks at the edge of the platform, I heard a hissing sound. Just as I looked at my feet, the adder took a swipe at me, narrowly missing my leg. Although the adder in the photograph looks quite large, this one was quite thin and it was only a little over half a metre long and I would have missed it if it wasn’t for its hissing sound. Normally adders will move away quickly when a threat is near, but this individual held its ground. Luckily, I managed to avoid being bitten, as that would have added a real inconvenience to my day.

Both the common lizard and the slow worm as seen above were individuals I also happen to come across on an access track to a site compound. The slow worm (as it sounds) moved very slowly across the stone, towards the adjacent heathland, but did not seem too bothered by my presence. I only noticed the lizard as it started scurrying away very quickly. Luckily it did sit still long enough for me to get a photograph.


If reptiles are encountered on your construction site, HED Ltd have in-house expertise that can provide practical advice for your project.

© 2019 by HED Ltd.