Celebrating Reptile Awareness Day

Celebrating Reptile Diversity: A Closer Look at Reptile Awareness Day

Written by Kennedy Hanczyk, Project Biologist, Environmental SciencePinchin Ltd.

The Crucial Role of Reptiles in Our Ecosystem

Every year, on October 21st, reptile enthusiasts and conservationists around the world come together to celebrate Reptile Awareness Day. From the mesmerizing movements of snakes to the serene nature of turtles and the vibrant personalities of lizards, these often-misunderstood species are an integral part of our planet’s ecosystem. Turtles serve as nutrient recyclers within aquatic environments, snakes assist in controlling prey populations, and lizards contribute to plant pollination. Understanding their importance helps recognize the broader ecological implications of their decline. Despite their ecological significance, they face numerous threats, including habitat loss and degradation, illegal collection, and predation.

Pinchin’s Commitment to Reptile Protection and Conservation

Pinchin’s Environmental Science (ENS) Group collaborates with clients to develop innovative solutions aimed at mitigating the impact of development on reptiles and their habitats. A practical illustration of Pinchin’s commitment to reptile protection and conservation can be found at a site in Windsor, Ontario proposed for residential development. At this site, Pinchin successfully identified suitable Species at Risk habitat for the Butler’s Gartersnake (Thamnophis butleri), an endangered species protected under the Ontario Endangered Species Act 2007. One of Pinchin’s primary methodologies for snake detection involves employing artificial cover objects made of plywood which serve as a refuge within the surrounding habitat. As a result, Pinchin identified numerous Butler’s Gartersnakes inhabiting the nearby area and recommended additional baseline monitoring to gauge population size and distribution accurately. Furthermore, upon the discovery of these endangered snakes, Pinchin collaborated with the client and regulatory agencies through snake salvage, relocation, and exclusion to devise a balanced solution that allows for development without jeopardizing the welfare of these endangered creatures.

Ensuring Reptile-Friendly Development: Pinchin’s Best Practices in Ontario

Another instance of Pinchin’s collaboration with wildlife conservation is in Scotland, Ontario. For this project, Pinchin conducted an exhaustive background review to identify critical natural habitats for reptiles. The site’s natural features include wetlands and watercourses that hold the potential to offer essential habitats for at-risk reptile species, including Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina), Northern Map Turtles (Graptemys geographica), and Blanding Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii). Basking turtle surveys were conducted meticulously to ensure that no critical habitat would be disrupted by development. Confirming the presence or absence of reptiles, through basking turtle surveys, allows Pinchin to provide appropriate recommendations that tailor to the Clients requirements.

Photo 3. Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata)

The rich diversity of Ontario’s landscapes, ranging from forests to wetlands to grasslands, serves as habitat for various reptile species. These reptiles have vital functions in preserving ecological equilibrium, controlling pest populations, and enhancing overall biodiversity. Reptile Awareness Day serves as a reminder that these creatures are not to be feared or dismissed but rather celebrated and protected!

On Reptile Aware Day 2023, Pinchin ENS celebrates the many partnerships for reptile protection and conservation that we are a part of and looks forward to the future of more partnerships. To learn more about how our Environmental Science Group can help you navigate around reptile habitat on your projects, contact our team or local Pinchin office.