Grass Snake

Grass Snake

Ringed snake, Water snake

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Natrix natrix
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
15-25 yrs
WEIGHT
240 g
LENGTH
90-150 cm

The Grass snake is a Eurasian non-venomous snake. It is often found near water and feeds almost exclusively on amphibians. The Grass snake is typically dark green or brown in color with a characteristic yellow collar behind the head, which explains the alternative name Ringed snake. The color may also range from grey to black, with darker colours being more prevalent in colder regions, presumably owing to the thermal benefits of being dark in color. The underside is whitish with irregular blocks of black, which are useful in recognizing individuals.

Di

Diurnal

Ca

Carnivore

Te

Terrestrial

Pr

Precocial

Bu

Burrowing

Ov

Oviparous

Pr

Predator

No

Non-venomous

So

Solitary

Mi

Migrating

Hi

Hibernating

G

starts with

Distribution

Geography

Grass snakes are widely distributed in mainland Europe, ranging from mid-Scandinavia to southern Italy. They are also found in the Middle East and northwestern Africa. These snakes are strong swimmers and may be found close to fresh water. They prefer to live in open woodland and "edge" habitat, such as field margins and woodland borders. They also favor areas near ponds, streams, and lakes. Grass snakes can also live in heavily-modified landscapes if suitable water sources are present and can be found in gardens and urban parks.

Grass Snake habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Grass snakes are solitary creatures. They are active during the day and search actively for prey, often on the edges of the water, using sight and sense of smell. These snakes typically hibernate during the winter underground. After breeding in summer, Green snakes tend to hunt actively and may range widely during this time, moving up to several hundred meters in a day. Snakes that have recently eaten rarely move any significant distance and will stay in one location, basking to optimize their body temperature until the prey item has been digested. Individual snakes may only need two or three significant prey items throughout an entire season. As Green snakes are not venoumous their main defense strategy is to produce a garlic-smelling fluid from the anal glands or to "play dead" by becoming completely limp. They may also perform an aggressive display in defense, hissing and striking without opening the mouth. They rarely bite in defence. They may also secrete blood from the mouth and nose whilst playing dead. When caught they often regurgitate the contents of their stomachs. Grass snakes are may also display a rare but known defensive behavior involving raising the front of the body and flattening the head and neck so that it resembles a cobra's hood.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Grass snakes are carnivores. They prey mainly on amphibians, especially the Common toad and the Common frog, although they may also occasionally eat ants and larvae.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
spring
INCUBATION PERIOD
10 weeks
INDEPENDENT AGE
at birth
FEMALE NAME
female
MALE NAME
male
BABY NAME
snakelet
BABY CARRYING
8-40 eggs

As spring approaches, the males emerge first from hibernation and spend much of the day basking in an effort to raise body temperature and thereby metabolism. The mating season starts up to two weeks later in April, or earlier if environmental temperatures are favorable. Females lay 8-40 leathery-skinned eggs from June to July which are incubated about 10 weeks. To survive and hatch, the eggs require a temperature of at least 21 °C (70 °F), but preferably 28 °C (82 °F), with high humidity. Areas of rotting vegetation, such as compost heaps, are preferred locations. The young are about 18 cm (7 in) long when they hatch and are immediately independent.

Population

Population threats

The main threat to these snakes is the loss of grassland and wetland habitats through human activity. They have various predators, including corvids, storks, owls and perhaps other birds of prey, foxes, and the domestic cat. In England, Grass snakes are protected and cannot be harmed or traded without a license, although they may legally be captured and kept in captivity.

References

1. Grass Snake on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grass_snake
2. Grass Snake on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/14368/4436775

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