Grass snakes are entirely benign, but it’s fair to state the majority of us are shocked and fearful to see a single swimming round the pond or disappearing into the flower border.
Don’t be fearful — this guide will give you the information you want about marijuana snakes, including what to do if you are fortunate enough to see one.
What Is A Grass Snake?
It’s a harmless snake which could achieve over a metre in length and live for 25 years.
Grass snakes have round pupils and vary in color from green to brown with black stripes on their sides and a white stomach. They have a black and yellow collar the rear of their minds.
They inhabit most of Europe, Central Asia and North Africa, but have not been discovered in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and many of the Channel Islands — which can come as a relief to a few of you!
What Snakes Are There In Britain?
Britain is home to four kinds of native snake, but just one of them is poisonous. That’s the adder and despite its terrifying reputation it’s pretty rare that people are bitten. In reality, the past UK fatality in the adder was in 1975.
Here are our slippery friends:
- Grass snake: Natrix Natrix
- Barred grass snake: Natrix Helvetica
- Smooth snake: Coronella Austriaca — located in the heathlands of Dorset
- Adder: Vipus Berus
It was just in 2017 which the barred bud snake turned into a distinct species in its own right. We’re still learning about these fascinating reptiles.
What’s The Difference Between A Grass Snake And An Adder?
Adders are poisonous and even though their venom is intended for smaller rodents anybody bitten by an adder should visit a doctor straight away.
Adders possess a very distinctive V or Y shape in their minds along with a zigzag running their length. If you get near, which isn’t recommended in any way they have a slit pupil instead of a round one like the harmless grass snake.
Both snakes are solitary animals and do not gather in nests regardless of what you have observed on Facebook viral videos.
Is A Slow Worm A Grass Snake?
No, they are entirely different species.
A slow pig is merely an odd title for a legless lizard. It’s not a snake (or even a pig ) whatsoever.
Slow worms are colored bronze, gray, or brown and just achieve 50cms completely grown. Their scales are smooth rather than overlapped, and they might fall 1/3 of their tail when fearful. It’s an amazing trick which helps them escape from predators.
Slow worms tend to be mistaken for snakes. The best way to tell which is which, if you have not run a mile, is to see and see if it blinks. Snakes do not blink, but slow worms do!
Are Grass Snakes Dangerous?
Not whatsoever. They’re benign reptiles without venom or the ability to constrict, but they might put on a display if you endanger them.
Grass snakes are capable of puffing up, hissing, and striking with a closed mouth. This is generally sufficient to terrify any person but might not place off an intrepid dog or cat.
In this instance the snake will perform dead. He will lie on his back with mouth wide open and tongue hanging out. It’s an Oscar-worthy performance that convinces predators to leave him alone.
If he is triggered even further, like being picked up, he will launch a disgusting fluid that actually stinks.
Grass Snakes Are Protected By Law
All native bees and reptiles in the UK are shielded by the Wildlife and Countryside Act. It’s illegal to kill, injure, or sell them.
Where Do They Live?
Grass snakes prefer moist areas with long grass, lots of prey, and secure hiding places so they have a tendency to favour areas near ponds, rivers, ditches, and canals. They are cozy in drier regions like hedgerows and woodlands too.
Grass snakes love basking in the sunlight to heat up. You might see one lying in a bright place getting up sufficient electricity for hunting — or perhaps he is just enjoying life, who knows!
Throughout the winter, if it’s too chilly for reptiles, all our native bees hibernate. That’s generally from October to March but it’s entirely weather dependent. Grass snakes like to hibernate in older rabbit warrens, holes in walls, or anyplace that’s dry and stuffy.
Do Grass Snakes Lay Eggs?
Grass snakes lay eggs about April shortly after waking from hibernation.
Their eggs are creamy-white leathery ovals rather than the hard-shelled chicken eggs we’re utilised to seeing.
The best location to get a mother to leave her eggs is inside a mulch pile, under rotting leaves, or tucked within a tangle of riverside reeds. It’s because decomposing plant matter generates heat, and warmth assists hatch these eggs effectively.
A female could put 30-40 eggs if it’s a hot spring and her infant snakes hatch out ten weeks afterwards looking like pencils.
In comparison, adders do not lay eggs incubate them internally. If you find eggs in your compost heap, they will be harmless grass snake eggs. Do the kind thing and leave them alone.
What Do They Eat?
Grass snakes search on water and land taking whatever is available.
In spring they capture fish, tadpoles, and also tuck into frogspawn. During the summer frogs and toads are their main victim together with newts. Any amphibians are fair game! Grass snakes will also search voles and mice if the going gets rough.
Because their favourite meal is really a frog a backyard pond is a fantastic way to bring them, especially in spring when snakes wake up from hibernation and feel particularly hungry.
Here’s an interesting piece of research. Wildlife specialists think a grownup grass snake can handle on just ten frogs per year. That creates them incredible animals capable of surviving hot summers and chilly winters.
Do They Have Any Predators?
Yes, quite a few animals prey on grass snakes.
Predators include cats, dogs, foxes, weasels, mink, badgers, big birds like herons, crows, magpies, and domestic chickens. Even the humble hedgehog will bite to a grass snake.
It appears odd to think that a friendly hog could strike and consume a huge snake, however Mrs Tiggy-Winkle is ferocious and a grass snake is too great a meal to pass up.
Alongside predators there are other hazards out there for grass snakes. Our roads claim loads of casualties, but the main supply of injury is netting.
Grass snakes may squeeze their heads via openings in netting, but their milder bodies become stuck quickly. They can not go backward and moving around to attempt to escape only entangles them further.
Netting triggers life-ending constriction injuries. A lifeless grass snake caught in netting is a sad sight indeed.
Always pick up your older netting and assess what is in use daily without fail. If you find a live bud snake in netting, put a towel the snake and then cut it free leaving lots of space. Take it to a wildlife rescue that will understand how to conserve it.
If you eliminate the netting completely it’ll leave cuts which might get infected and result in a slow, painful death. This goes for almost any wildlife you find tangled in backyard or soccer goal netting.
Perhaps you feel a little sorry for grass snakes today? I do!
What Should I Do If There’s A Grass Snake In My Garden?
With numerous predators on their own case, it’s a hard knock life for Miss Hiss to maintain soul and body together.
All our native bees attempt to avoid human contact and who can blame them?
If you are fortunate enough to place a ‘snake’ in your backyard it’s likely to be a slow pig since they are more common, but if you live in a semi-rural place with a pond or extended grass then do not be surprised to find a sizable green-brown snake passing by.
I’ve seen them in the late evening round my pond — grass snakes are proficient swimmers and search in the water. It’s always a shock to see them, however a nice jolt!
If you see you only leave it alone. Remember it’s illegal to damage them and it’s likely only passing through, entirely afraid of you and only looking for something to eat.
But I Want It Gone!
It’s against the legislation to damage UK snakes, but there are techniques to get your lawn less appealing. Keep your grass short, create noise, avoid dirt piles, and do not have a pond.
I think that is a crying shame since they could not hurt you if they tried, and if you have grass snake squatters your outside area has to be a wildlife sanctuary. Not everybody can claim that.
I’ve Found A Weird Snake
Snakes are considered exotic pets and they are able to escape occasion. Harmless corn snakes, which are generally reddish in color, are famously called ‘the escape snake’. Plenty of individuals ditch snakes once they become bored with them also.
If you see an odd snake attempt to receive a photograph and telephone the RSPCA who might retrieve it and scan for a microchip.
Why Not Support Our Native Grass Snake?
I hope this guide has helped you know our native grass snakes a little better. If you see one there’s no demand for hiss-terics (*groan*).
Life is tough enough for our wildlife exactly what with habitats disappearing and water and food resources shirking away.
You’ve got to feel for our snakes — they are maligned, cried, and known names like ‘Stab Noodle’ or ‘Tube of Death’ but there’s no requirement to be impolite!
Grass snakes are only getting on with life like the rest of us. The greatest course of action is to return, admire, and leave them in peace.