Natrix Natrix
Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 Click here for more information

The non-poisonous British grass snake, sometimes known as the barred grass snake or ringed snake, belongs to the subspecies Natrix natrix helvetica which is found throughout Western Europe.

BibliographyDiscuss this PageHits on this PageLegals

The female grows to a length of one metre (3 feet) while the male is considerably smaller, reaching 60cm (2 feet).

Colouring is similar in both of the sexes with the upper side being an olive-brown with vertical black bars along the flanks and lips. There are two yellow/orange crescent-shaped patches on the nape of the neck behind which are two black triangular areas. These markings lead to the snakes sometimes being called 'ringed snakes' although the ring is sometimes missing in older females. The upper lip is white with a black edge and the belly is chequered with black and white.

The pupil of the grass snake is round unlike that of the adder (Vipera berus) which is slit-shaped.

Grass snakes have been known to live for up to nine years in captivity.

BibliographyDiscuss this PageHits on this PageLegals

In the British Isles, the grass snake is distributed as far north as the Scottish border counties. Its absence from Ireland suggests that its ancestors arrived in the British Isles during the period about 10,000 years ago after the last Ice Age when Britain was still joined to continental Europe by a land bridge but the Irish Sea had already formed.

The snakes' range is governed by climate as the eggs must be incubated at a minimum temperature of 21°C.

BibliographyDiscuss this PageHits on this PageLegals

The snakes are usually seen near ponds, ditches, streams field borders and hedgerows. Sometimes they are seen swimming as they are strong swimmers.

BibliographyDiscuss this PageHits on this PageLegals

Grass snakes often bask near the undergrowth into which they disappear when approched as they are sesitive to vibrations in the ground.

Cornered, they may put on an aggressive display, hissing as they dart their heads around, but they are defenceless. They sometimes protect themselves from enemies by feigning death.

Like all our native British reptiles, Grass snakes hibernate through the winter (from October until March).

BibliographyDiscuss this PageHits on this PageLegals

Grass snakes hunt fish, frogs, toads, newts and slugs. They also take young birds and birds' eggs.

BibliographyDiscuss this PageHits on this PageLegals

The female lays between thrity and fourty eggs in June and July. The eggs have an incubationperiod of between six and ten weeks. As they require a minimum incubation temperature of 21°C, this limits the distribution of the species.

BibliographyDiscuss this PageHits on this PageLegals

Links to Other Pages on this Site

Native British Reptiles

Links to Other Sites

. . . . . the inclusion of these links to other sites is for the interest and convenience of visitors to this site only and does not imply any endorsement of the products or services offered by the individuals or organisations involved nor the accuracy of the information contained therein . . . . .


BibliographyDiscuss this PageHits on this PageLegals

Links to Other Pages on this Site

All six Native British Reptiles may be found on the heathlands of Dorset.


Discuss this PageHits on this PageLegalsLinksLocally

Recommend a Book for this Page


BibliographyDiscuss this PageLegalsLinksLocally
Hits on this Page
Hits on this page since December 6th


current year: previous year:

 Close this Menu Panel
Select ;-

Aa-Az   Ba-Bz   Ca-Cz   Da-Dz   Ea-Ez   Fa-Fz   Ga-Gz   Ha-Hz   Ia-Iz   Ja-Jz   Ka-Kz   La-Lz   Ma-Mz   Na-Nz   Oa-Oz   Pa-Pz   Qa-Qz   Ra-Rz   Sa-Sz   Ta-Tz   Ua-Uz   Va-Vz   Wa-Wz   Ya-Yz   
BibliographyHits on this PageLegalsLinksLocally
Discuss this Page

No messages posted on this page

Only Members of the Site can post messages in this section. Signing in is easy from our Home Page.

BibliographyDiscuss this PageHits on this PageLinks

DISCLAIMER: Whilst we endeavour to ensure the content of this site is correct, we cannot undertake that information you find here, is, or will remain accurate and complete. We do not warrant that any information contained on this site is fit for any purpose. If you wish to place reliance on any such information you must check its accuracy by some other means before doing so.

MEMBERS get aditional features on our pages and will soon be able to interact with the site and add their views and informastion. Sign up, from the Home-Page, is simple and involves typing in your email address and a password of your choice.

If you are in any way connected with any location or interested in the subject mentioned on this page and have an hour or two a month to spare, we would welcome you as a local moderator - please email the webmaster by CLICKING HERE.

Privacy Policy

last updated on
Copyright © 2000-2003
page ref: BAAAGDAP