Why has an animal laid eggs in my compost heap?
Don’t be alarmed if you find eggs in your compost heap! Compost heaps are naturally warm in temperature and provide great protection from predation or destruction. This makes them ideal habitat in which to lay eggs!
What are they from?
In the wild, grass snakes seek out piles of rotting vegetation to lay their eggs, so grass snakes see compost heaps as just a big pile of rotting vegetation!
Grass snakes are the only native snake that lay eggs. If you find eggs in your compost heap it is very unlikely to be from anything other than a grass snake! Their eggs are between 2-3cm in diameter, are pale and leathery.
Grass snakes are not dangerous to humans or domestic pets like cats and dogs, although they are carnivorous so may take the odd frog or fish from your garden pond!
What should I do with them?
If you find eggs in your compost heap it is important that you don't disturb them! Grass snakes and their eggs are protected by law from injury or destruction.
The eggs will hatch out in the late summer months so try to avoid turning your compost heap until October time. By then the hatchlings, which look like tiny adult grass snakes, should have hatched and left the compost heap.
Should I report my findings?
If you want to help local understanding of wildlife you can record your finding as part of Dorset Environmental Record Centre’s initiative Living Record.
Grass snakes are extremely elusive! Entering this information contributes greatly to our local understand of these timid creatures.
If you require any further information visit Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.