Smooth snake

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SMOOTH SNAKE

Coronella austriaca austriaca

Our rarest reptile, the elusive smooth snake is restricted to heathlands in the south of England. Aside from having a very restricted range, these reptiles are incredibly secretive, hardly ever basking out in the open where you might find other snakes. As the name suggests, smooth snakes are…smooth, and don’t have a keel on their scales like other snakes. They also tend to be a matt grey or brown colour and rarely reach more than 70cm.

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Where/when to find them

A heathland specialist, relying on deep mats of moss underneath mature heather to provide them with the cover they need to hunt and hide. Like other reptiles in the UK, smooth snakes can be found from spring to early autumn, escaping the winter by hibernating underground in old mammal burrows or between tree roots.

Adaptations

Alongside their camouflage colouration, smooth snakes have also evolved a nasty smelling liquid which they spray when attacked by a predator, putting birds of prey, cats and other animals off their snake dinner!

Diet

Carnivores. They are specialist reptile hunters, eating lizards, small snakes and even cannibalising other smooth snakes!

Rarity

Due to their low numbers, these snakes are highly protected by law in the UK and require a licence to survey them.

Read more

On our blog: The most secretive snake on the heath

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