22/07/2016 15:56 BST

Hampstead Heath Grass Snake Population Spikes Around Bird Sanctuary Pond

Increase is a 'good indicator of a flourishing aquatic habitat'.

It seems Londoners aren’t the only ones who enjoy lazing in the long grass at Hampstead Health. 

According to wildlife experts, there has been a marked increase in sighting of grass snakes around the bird sanctuary pond since a monitoring programme began in 2009.

According to the City of London Corporation, which monitors the reptiles, said the health is the closest green space to central London with a breeding programme for the non-venomous snake. 

Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters
Grass snakes are thriving on north London's Hampstead Heath 

Adrian Brooker, ecologist for the corporation, told the Evening Standard that the increase in snakes is a “good indicator of a flourishing aquatic habitat because they need a healthy population of amphibians like frogs, toads and newts on which to survive”.

He said small ponds and winter refuges were being created to “encourage growth in their population”.

The grass snake, which is Britain’s largest terrestrial reptile, eats frogs, toads and newts, although they sometimes go for small mammals and young birds.