Animals

Check Out These Ssseriously Cool Grass Snake Facts

Grass Snake facts are fun to know.
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Are you interested in learning cool facts about a special type of snake? In this article, we shall venture into the iconic grass snake. Grass snakes are mainly found across Europe, from mid-Scandinavia to southern Italy. The grass snake, Natrix natrix, is a Eurasian colubrid snake that is most commonly seen in England and Wales. They are also known as water snakes or ringed snakes. The grass snake habitats are mainly wetlands, however, they can be spotted in grassland areas too. The snakes are carnivores who prey on small mammals and need enough heat and warmth for basking. The grass snake (Natrix natrix) is non-venomous and lives a solitary life, and only comes together in spring, where a large number of males mate with relatively fewer females who lay eggs. Once the baby grass snakes hatch out of the eggs, which are laid in rotting vegetation such as compost heaps, they become independent and do not receive much care. In late summer, after breeding, the snakes devote their time to hunting and move around looking for their prey. Once they have hunted and fed on the prey, the snakes spend the time basking while their food is being digested. Another important fact is that they do not inject venom into their prey to kill them, instead, they swallow their prey.

Read on to learn more about these amazing snakes and if you like this article, then check out the king cobra and the worm snake.

Grass Snake

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Common toad, common frog, ants, and larvae

What do they eat?

Carnivores

Average litter size?

8-40

How much do they weigh?

3.3 oz (94 g)

How long are they?

2-3 ft (o.6-1 m)

How tall are they?

N/A

What do they look like?

Dark green to brown with dark markings

Skin Type

Scales

What are their main threats?

Birds of prey, weasels, badgers, hedgehogs, foxes, domestic cats

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Wetland, grasslands, woodlands, and gardens

Locations

Europe, Middle East, and North West Africa

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Reptilia

Scientific Name

Grass snake - Natrix natrix Barred grass snake - Natrix helvetica

Family

Colubridae

Genus

Natrix

Grass Snake Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a grass snake?

Grass snakes are non-venomous animals that are native to areas near water bodies like ponds and lakes, and also grasslands and woodlands. They are very active during the day and hunt for their food, which mostly includes amphibians. They are seldom known to bite and their defense mechanism mainly ranges from secreting pungent liquids to playing dead, to fool their predators.

What class of animal does a grass snake belong to?

Grass snakes belong to the class Reptilia of the Animalia kingdom.

How many grass snakes are there in the world?

Grass snakes are mainly native to Europe, ranging from mid-Scandinavia to southern Italy. However, it is not possible to ascertain the exact number of grass snakes that exist on the planet.

Where does a grass snake live?

The grass snakes are mainly native to Europe, ranging from mid-Scandinavia to southern Italy (particularly England and Wales), the Middle East, and North Western Africa but are rarely spotted in Scotland and not found in Ireland

What is a grass snake's habitat?

Grass snakes prefer wetland areas i.e. to stay near water bodies like lakes, ponds owing to their strong swimming ability. However, being reptiles, they need enough heat and warmth for thermoregulation through basking, which is why the grass snake is also frequently spotted in grasslands or field margins and woodlands. In winter they move underground to keep themselves warm.

Who do grass snakes live with?

Grass snakes are animals of the wild. They are mostly solitary creatures who live and prey on their own. However, it is only during mating season, that these snakes come together in groups of males and females to lay eggs under favorable temperature conditions.  

How long does a grass snake live?

The grass snakes live on an average of 15 years.

How do they reproduce?

Reproduction in grass snakes is an interesting phenomenon. These solitary animals, who live on their own, come together in groups only during the mating season to give birth to their young ones. It is observed that the males of the species emerge first with the arrival of spring. This is done with the primary objective to bask in the sun. This basking for long hours, helps the snakes to increase their body temperature and also their metabolism. The temperature conditions need to be favorable for the birth of grass snake babies. The females of the species emerge after a few weeks, in April. The snakes lay eggs in June to July, in batches, which range from four to 80 eggs. The grass snake eggs finally hatch after nearly 10 weeks, in early Autumn, with a temperature requirement of 70-82 F, along with high humidity. The young snakes (which are about seven inches long) are mostly born in areas of rotting vegetation, like compost heaps. The young ones soon become independent animals.

What is their conservation status?

The grass snake has been listed as of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN Red List. The snake species are also protected in Denmark and in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, where it is illegal to injure, kill or sell these snakes.

Grass Snake Fun Facts

What do grass snakes look like?

Grass snakes are non-venomous creatures.

Grass snakes have a long, slender body that is covered in scales. Depending on the upper side of their body, which is darker than the lower side, one can mainly spot brown grass snake, black grass snake, or green grass snake.  They have a whitish or yellow collar around their neck. The snake is grey or black in regions that record very low temperatures. The body color of the snake helps it to store heat and maintain body temperature. On the ventral side of the body, there are black marks of different shapes.

How do they communicate?

Like most snakes, they communicate through hissing. Other than that, they can sense vibrations around them to get an idea of their surroundings.

How big is a grass snake?

The average length of a male grass snake is about 23.6 in (60 cm) while the average length of a female grass snake is about 35.4-43.3 in (90-110 cm). The adults are about six or seven times longer than a regular lizard.

How fast can a grass snake move?

The adults move fast using their well-developed hearing and sight to hunt their prey.

How much does a grass snake weigh?

The average weight of the snake can be estimated to be 3.3 oz (94 g), but they can also grow up to be almost 8.5 oz (240 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Grass snakes do not have separate names for the male and female of the species.

What would you call a baby grass snake?

Babies of grass snakes are called hatchlings, neonates, or snakelets.

What do they eat?

The grass snake's diet includes small mammals like toads and frogs, they might also feed on small insects. The grass snake's food, however, will never include dead animals. The adults need two to three meals for an entire season.

Are they aggressive?

Grass snakes are not known to bite. However, these snakes can secrete a foul-smelling liquid from their anal glands to throw off their predators and are also known for playing dead as a part of their defense mechanism. It is only rarely that these snakes become aggressive and try to defend themselves by hissing and striking at their prey without opening their mouth. There are times when the snakes feel threatened by their predators and raise the front of their body and flatten the head and neck to give the illusion of a cobra.

Would they make a good pet?

There are instances where people have kept grass snakes in zoos, in large spaces owing to the absence of grass snake poisonous nature. Although the grass snake's bite is non-poisonous, having a grass snake pet might not be the best idea.

Did you know...

They shed their skin at least once a year during the active season. This is commonly known as snake ecdysis or molting. Around this time they are very fragile and aggressive.

In some mythologies, like the Baltic mythology, grass snakes are considered sacred.

In the UK, the grass snake is referred to as the barred grass snake whereas, in North America, it is referred to as the smooth grass snake and the rough grass snake.

The Yamakagashi or Japanese grass snake, which is native to Japan, is a harmless animal of the Colubridae family. The olive green head of the snake descends to black and orange patterns along its body and tail.

How are grass snakes protected?

The snake is protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Under the act, it is illegal to kill, harm, or sell the snake. Grass snake care is also ensured in Denmark, where it is protected under the law. Even though there are quite a few of these snakes found across the world and the species are listed under the Least Concern, two of the species of this snake are facing challenges of being endangered.

How do grass snakes consume their prey?

One of the three main species of snakes found in the UK, besides adders and smooth snakes, the grass snake is non-venomous by nature. They do not inject venom, instead, they hunt and once they have found the prey, they consume it alive, without constriction.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including the queen snake and the vine snake.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Grass snake coloring pages.

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