There have been some interesting headlines over the weekend regarding Aesculapian snakes in London, such as the Daily Mirror’s ‘Colony of killer snakes ‘capable of crushing small children to death’ on loose in London’.
The London Invasive Species Initiative (LISI) has put together some information which we hope will clear up some inaccuracies.
Below is our original statement, in response to a request for information on their population in London. Note that LISI is not calling for the eradication of the species in London, as reported in some media.
‘The species of concern list for the Greater London area has been compiled by a range of industry professionals and land managers within London and is reviewed and updated quarterly. This list does indeed include the Aesculapian snakes that are being referred to, although no action that I am aware of has been taken to remove this population, nor does LISI have any plans to do so at present. This species is listed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 meaning it is illegal to allow the species to spread or escape into the wild. At present there is limited information on what effects the species may have on our local ecosystems and further information would be hugely valuable in developing appropriate management plans for this population’.
LISI would require further information and monitoring of this species before advising on any further action. With so many other invasive non-native species having a detrimental effect on our environment, it is not feasible to spend limited resources on a species that does not at present seem to be having a significant impact on our ecosystems.
As for the concern about people’s safety, when left alone Aesculapian snakes are a docile and non-venomous species. Please rest assured that your children will not risk being crushed by snakes whilst wandering through central London.