Animal homes

Small mammals
Amphibians
Reptiles
Feeding stations

Small mammals

Nooks and crannies in which these animals can hide, rest and hibernate are easily provided in a wildlife garden or habitat creation project. Almost any material which provides cover and shelter will be suitable, and the problem may be on some derelict sites to improve the appearance of the site without clearing away many valuable features for wildlife. Piles of rubble, timber, brushwood, and rubbish can all provide cover, but may not look attractive to the human eye. If you are redesigning a garden, incorporate lots of hole and hollows. Any bricks that can be piled up neatly, as well as brushwood as a "habitat pile" will increase wildlife value of any area.

Sheet material, such as carpet, lino or corrugated metal will attract many small animals to shelter beneath. Typical visitors are Voles and Shrews which feed on the worms and invertebrates also under the door. An anchored trapdoor is very useful for site visits by schools and other groups where you can reveal all the life sheltering under the material.

Amphibians

These guys like damp areas with good shelter from predators exposure from the elements. A good example is to make a brushwood pile in the corner of your garden from fallen branches or scrub. If you have a pond make it near this so when they emerge in the spring they don't have far to go to find their summer habitat.

Reptiles

The snakes that are found in Berkshire are the Adder and Grass snake. The adder is on the Biodiversity action plan for Wokingham district council as a valuable species found in local habitats. 

The Adder is the only venomous snake in Britain. It has a noticeable dark zigzag pattern on the back and the body colour varies between creamy yellow to grey in males to reddish brown in females. Adders usually grow to 60cm in length. It has gained enemies over the years due to being venomous, but infact its very timid. Bites are uncommon, the people who have been bitten have either picked up one or trodden on one.

The Grass snake has an olive body with darkish spots or streaks on the flanks and a distinct yellow and black collar behind the head (not to be confused with the V markings of the Adder). Usually 70-100cms long. Unlike the adder that give birth to live young, grass snake lay eggs. These are laid in piles of vegetation, saw dust and manure heaps, where they are incubated by the heat of decomposition. Grass snakes eat small mammals, amphibians and some fish and consequently found near damper areas or ponds.

Conservation - All reptiles have basic needs in common; they need shelter, warmth and a basic supply of food. These needs are met in many open areas with low, uneven height vegetation, such as heathland, and in adjacent grassland or scrubby areas. The main conservation priority is to ensure that the large areas of suitable habitat remain; this often needs to be managed to prevent the growth of trees that would shade the area. In winter, suitable frost free areas are needed so they survive through hibernation.

All native reptiles are protected in Britain under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or sell any native species (6 in total as well as the above, also smooth snake, slow worm, sand lizard, and common lizard).

Feeding stations

Direct feeding may be helpful, especially in late spring when their are litters of larger animals to be fed. However, the main benefit is possibly feeding stations may allow animals to be observed. Worms, fruit, scraps, and whole meal bread are enjoyed by garden visitors, day or night.