Snake board

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Snake board in the Recker Moor

As a snake boards in potential are reptiles habitats designed artificial hiding places which, at the detection of reptiles serve and under feldherpetologischer studies (mapping) are used. In addition to laying out snake boards, which have been specially prepared for the most efficient possible detection of reptiles, especially snakes, other materials are also used. Some mappers, for example, lay out metal sheets, pieces of roofing felt, remnants of carpeting, etc.

In the context of larger field herpetological investigations, the snake board types "Henf" and "Glandt", named after their inventors, have proven themselves.

Working principle

The detection of some reptile species, especially snakes and creeps, is often difficult and depends on favorable weather conditions. The detection of snakes often takes place by chance. Snakes and creeps are most likely to be found in their hiding places, which they visit for thermoregulation or to protect against predators , for example . If there are no natural hiding spots such as stone slabs that can be crawled under, tree trunks, etc., some field herpetologists use snake boards that can be easily checked.

To clarify how it works, the “Henf” snake board is described here as an example. The snake board for "Henf" is a 1.5 m × 0.5 m large formwork board which was provided with a slightly offset from the center of the board, black bars. The function of the black bar is that this area heats up more because of the higher heat absorption. This creates areas of different heat zones, between which the board under the cold-blooded reptiles can switch to regulate their body temperature. According to the results of many years of field herpetological investigations, wood is to be preferred over other materials, as excessive and rapid heating in extreme weather conditions (high heat) is avoided and the wood promotes favorable microclimatic conditions through the possibility of water absorption . Sheet metal and roofing felts get so hot in direct sunlight within a very short time that reptiles can only go to these artificial hiding spots under very specific, favorable weather conditions that are not too sunny.

Reptiles do not specifically seek out the boards, but instead come across the "ideal" hiding place when looking for food. Since there are ideal conditions under the board for some types of reptiles (privacy protection from predators , favorable opportunities for thermoregulation, food sources, etc.), reptiles often move their center of life under a snake board and can be detected there in the course of controls.

Catch spectrum

Snake boards have been successfully used in Central Europe to detect the following reptile species:

  • Slow worm ( Anguis fragilis )
  • Forest lizard ( Zootoca vivipara ) - mostly sunbathing on the boards
  • Sand lizard ( Lacerta agilis ) - mostly sunbathing on the boards
  • Smooth snake ( Coronella austriaca )
  • Grass snake ( Natrix natrix ) - mostly before moulting
  • Adder ( Vipera berus )

Evidence of further reptile species is likely through the use of snake boards. To identify the western green lizard ( Lacerta bilineata ), modified snake boards were used in the Lahn valley, which kept small sunbathing areas open in high vegetation.

Legal basis

In Germany, there are strict legal limits to the targeted use of snake boards. Since the target group of reptiles is "specially protected" or "strictly protected" species according to BNatSchG or BArtSchV, an exemption from the responsible nature conservation authority must be obtained before using snake boards.


  1. Herpetofauna NRW 2000, circular no.10 - September 1996.
  2. Working Group Amphibian and Reptile Protection in Hessen e. V. (AGAR): The green lizard Lacerta bilineata near Runkel an der Lahn. - Unpublished Report 2004, 31 pp.