Bangor University KESS 2 researcher presents details of snake movements at conference

Tom Major tracking snakes

Tom tracking Aesculapian snakes in 2021 (Image credit: Dr Wolfgang Wüster)


Bangor University KESS 2 researcher Tom Major presented preliminary findings from his PhD work at the recent online Herpetofauna Workers Meeting on Saturday the 5th February 2022. The conference focused on non-native reptiles and amphibians in the UK and Tom, whose research is sponsored by the Welsh Mountain Zoo, was given the opportunity to present his early findings to herpetological professionals, academics and enthusiasts from the UK.

Part of Tom’s research investigates the space use and behaviour of an introduced species of snake, the Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus) in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. He spent the summer of 2021 radio-tracking nine snakes in Colwyn Bay, collecting data on their movements and behaviour. The snakes, which hunt rodents and birds and constrict their prey, are harmless to humans and were accidentally introduced to the area in the 1970s.

Nathan Rusli's photo of an Aesculapian snake

The Aesculapian snake (Image credit: Nathan Rusli)


Tom said, “We gained many fascinating insights into the behaviour of these elusive animals during the tracking season in 2021. We learnt that the snakes move distances of up to 500m per day, spend long periods hidden in the walls of buildings, and lay their eggs in garden compost heaps. They also frequently revisit the same safe places to seek refuge”.

Tom and his field team plan to track more snakes beginning in Spring 2022, when the snakes emerge from their winter hibernation.

For more information on Tom’s project, visit

The project is funded by Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2), a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys, and generously supported by the Welsh Mountain Zoo.


Strine, C., Brown, A., Barnes, C., Major, T., Artchawakom, T., Hill III, J., & Suwanwaree, P. (In Press). Arboreal Mating Behaviors of the Big-eyed Green Pit Viper (Trimeresurus macrops) in Northeast Thailand (Reptilia: Viperidae). Current Herpetology, 37(1).

Barnes, C., Strine, C., Suwanwaree, P., & Major, T. (In Press).  Cryptelytrops albolabris (White-lipped Viper). Behavior. Herpetological Review.
Major, T. (2017). Caudal Luring By a Captive Common Boa, Boa sp. Captive and Field Herpetology, 1 (1), 13-15.

Major, T., Knierim, T., Barnes, C., Lonsdale, G., Waengsothorn, S., & Strine, C. (2017). Observations of Arboreality in a Burrowing Frog, the Banded Bullfrog, Kaloula pulchra (Amphibia: Anura: Microhylidae). Current Herpetology36(2), 148-152.