Grass snake

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GRASS SNAKE

Natrix helvetica

Our largest native snake, these water specialists can occasionally reach around 2m in length. Easily identified by a black and yellow collar around the neck, grass snakes range from grey to light brown to olive green. Some individuals can be marked with tiger stripes and some very rare colour morphs have been found with light zig-zags on the back. Grass snakes are fantastic swimmers and can even be found navigating fast flowing rapids, or gobbling goldfish in garden ponds!

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Where/when to find them

These snakes tend to be associated with water, but can be found in a variety of habitats including more urban environments such as gardens and canals if there is enough prey and undisturbed areas of vegetation. Rivers, wetlands, wet heath and marshes are also good areas. Like other snakes in the UK they hibernate, and can be found active from early spring to mid autumn.

Adaptations

Grass snakes have evolved two excellent defence mechanisms. If disturbed they release a foul smelling liquid, enough to put predators off their dinner. They also death feign, lying their bodies and heads on their side or upside down, oozing a smell of decay.

Diet

Carnivores. An amphibian and fish specialist, these snakes hunt frogs, toads, newts, fish and the occasional water bird chick.

Rarity

Our most common snake, but numbers have seen sharp drops over the years due to habitat loss and disturbance. Urbanisation is a big problem, as well as developments and roads blocking populations from joining up. They are protected from killing or harm by law.

Read more

On our blog: Introducing the Pond Raider!

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