dcsimg

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

provided by AnAge articles
Maximum longevity: 20 years (captivity) Observations: These animals show gradual senescence (Patnaik 1994).
license
cc-by-3.0
copyright
Joao Pedro de Magalhaes
editor
de Magalhaes, J. P.
partner site
AnAge articles

Biology

provided by Arkive
Grass snakes are difficult to observe as they are fast-moving and wary (2). Because they derive their body warmth from the environment, this snake has to bask in the sun after emerging in the morning in order to reach high enough body temperatures to be able to function efficiently and digest their prey (3). During winter, temperatures are too low, and grass snakes find frost-free places such as deep leaf litter or rock piles in which to hibernate between October and March or April (2). Courtship and mating take place from March to June. When a male finds a receptive female, he curves his body around the female, whilst rubbing her with his head. He wraps his tail closely around the female and copulation takes place, the female then departs and searches for a nesting site (2). The grass snake is Britain's only egg laying snake (3); eggs are laid in compost or manure heaps, where the rotting vegetation creates warm conditions (2). Development of the leathery white eggs depends on the temperature, but hatching usually occurs 6-8 weeks after egg-laying. The hatchling snakes escape from the eggs by chipping at the shell with an egg tooth, which is lost shortly after hatching. Males become mature at 3 years of age, but females do not begin to breed until they reach their fourth or fifth year. After reaching maturity, males shed their skin twice a year, whereas females slough their skin once a year just before egg-laying. Grass snakes can live for up to 15 years (2). The grass snake is an active predator of frogs, toads and newts, although fish, small mammals and young birds may also be taken. Prey is grabbed, then swallowed alive. This snake is a good swimmer, and is able to stay submerged for over half an hour (2). This species is predated upon by badgers, foxes, domestic cats, hedgehogs and a number of birds; the snakes rely on their wariness for protection but often 'play dead' when threatened, which may dissuade certain predators from killing them. When caught, they hiss loudly, release pungent and foul-smelling substances from the anal gland, and frequently strike with the head, although they do not bite (2).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Conservation

provided by Arkive
This species is fully protected against being sold, injured or killed in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (3). One main aim of the conservation strategy for this species is to educate people about the grass snake, and to encourage them to tolerate its presence (6).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Description

provided by Arkive
The grass snake is Britain's largest terrestrial reptile. This snake is typically olive-green, brown or greyish in colour, with a variable row of black bars along the sides, occasionally with smaller round markings along the back in double rows. The underside is off-white or yellowish with dark triangular or rectangular markings. A characteristic black and yellow collar is present behind the head, which has earned the species the alternative name of 'ringed snake' (2). Totally black (melanistic) forms and albinos occasionally arise. Males and females are generally similar in appearance, although females are often larger; males can be identified by the presence of a swelling at the base of the tail and by the fact that they have longer tails relative to females (2).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Habitat

provided by Arkive
Like all members of the genus Natrix, the grass snake is an aquatic species that is usually closely associated with water (4). They are found in habitats featuring ponds, lakes, streams, marshes and ditches, which provide access to sunshine for basking and plenty of shelter. They may be found in open woodland, rough grassland, wet heathlands, gardens, parks and hedgerows (2).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Range

provided by Arkive
This snake is found in lowland areas of Britain. It is widespread and common in some areas of the south and south east of England, is absent from Scotland and becomes rare in central Wales (2). It is absent from Ireland, where it is said to have been expelled by Saint Patrick (4). Elsewhere it has a wide distribution in continental Europe, from southern Scandinavia to southern Italy, reaching as far east as Lake Baikal. It also occurs in northwestern Africa. Experts currently disagree as to the number of subspecies of the grass snake; British grass snakes belong to the western subspecies Natrix natrix helvetica (2).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Status

provided by Arkive
Protected in the UK by Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 (3). Listed under Appendix III of the Berne Convention (5).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Threats

provided by Arkive
The grass snake is a much maligned species, and is often an unwelcome visitor to gardens. In some habitats, basking and egg-laying sites have been reduced in numbers (5).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Brief Summary

provided by Ecomare
There is no Wadden Island where you run the risk of stepping on a live snake. In the ditches and swamps in dunes on the mainland, you could find grass snakes. The dryer, yet not dessiccated dunes are actually very suitable as habitat for vipers, however they are not found on the islands.
license
cc-by-nc
copyright
Copyright Ecomare
provider
Ecomare
original
visit source
partner site
Ecomare

Distribution

provided by ReptileDB
Continent: Asia Europe
Distribution: Soviet Union, S Russia (Caucasus), Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Turkey
Type locality: Pitsunda, Georgia
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Peter Uetz
original
visit source
partner site
ReptileDB

Distribution

provided by ReptileDB
Continent: Africa Near-East Asia Europe
Distribution: Norway, Sweden, Finland, England, France (Corsica), Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia), Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Italy (Sardinia), Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia: Croatia (including some adriatic islands), Slovenia, Bosnia and Hercegowina, Monte Negro, Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece (Limnos, Lesbos, Paros, Antiparos, Despotiko, Chios, Samos, Samothraki, Andros, Corfu), Turkey, Cyprus, Italy (incl. Elba), Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, N Iran, Syria, USSR/Soviet Union, NW China (Xinjiang), Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, NW Mongolia; elevations 0-3000 m. astreptophora: Portugal, Spain, S France cetti: Italy corsa: Corsica cypriaca: Cyprus persa: Bulgaria (etc.), Greece (Lesbos, Rhodos), Turkey, N Iran, Syria. schweizeri: Greece
Type locality: Europe
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Peter Uetz
original
visit source
partner site
ReptileDB

Grass snake

provided by wikipedia EN

The grass snake (Natrix natrix), sometimes called the ringed snake or water snake, is a Eurasian non-venomous snake. It is often found near water and feeds almost exclusively on amphibians. The barred grass snake, Natrix helvetica, was split off as a separate species in 2017.

Subspecies

Many subspecies are recognized, including:[2]

  • Natrix natrix algirus (fide Sochurek, 1979)
  • Natrix natrix astreptophora (Seoane, 1885)
  • Natrix natrix calabra Vanni & Lanza, 1983
  • Natrix natrix cypriaca (Hecht, 1930)
  • Natrix natrix fusca Cattaneo, 1990
  • Natrix natrix gotlandica Nilson & Andrén, 1981
  • Natrix natrix natrix (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Natrix natrix persa (Pallas, 1814)
  • Natrix natrix schweizeri L. Müller 1932
  • Natrix natrix scutata (Pallas, 1771)

Natrix natrix helvetica (Lacépède, 1789) was formerly treated as a subspecies, but following genetic analysis it was recognised in August 2017 as a separate species, Natrix helvetica, the barred grass snake. Four other subspecies were transferred from N. natrix to N. helvetica, becoming N. helvetica cettii, N. helvetica corsa, N. helvetica lanzai and N. helvetica sicula.[3]

Description

 src=
A specimen showing the distinctive yellow collar

The grass snake is typically dark green or brown in colour with a characteristic yellow collar behind the head, which explains the alternative name ringed snake. The colour 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 colour. The underside is whitish with irregular blocks of black, which are useful in recognizing individuals.[4]

Distribution

The grass snake is widely distributed in mainland Europe, ranging from mid Scandinavia to southern Italy. It is also found in the Middle East and northwestern Africa. British grass snakes were thought to belong to the subspecies N. n. helvetica, though this is now recognised as a separate species.[3]

This species was considered to be one of only three snakes to occur in Great Britain, but the grass snakes in Great Britain have now been reidentified as barred grass snake Natrix helvetica, any records of N. natrix in Britain are now considered to have originated from imported specimens.[3]

Ecology

Feeding

Grass snakes prey mainly on amphibians, especially the common toad and the common frog, although they may also occasionally eat ants and larvae. Captive snakes have been observed taking earthworms offered by hand, but dead prey items are never taken.[5] The snake will search actively for prey, often on the edges of water, using sight and sense of smell (using Jacobson's organ). They consume prey live without using constriction.

Habitat

Grass snakes are strong swimmers and may be found close to fresh water, although there is evidence individual snakes often do not need bodies of water throughout the entire season.[5]

The preferred habitat appears to be open woodland and "edge" habitat, such as field margins and woodland borders, as these may offer adequate refuge while still affording ample opportunity for thermoregulation through basking. Pond edges are also favoured and the relatively high chance of observing this secretive species in such areas may account for their perceived association with ponds and water.

Grass snakes, as with most reptiles, are at the mercy of the thermal environment and need to overwinter in areas which are not subject to freezing. Thus, they typically spend the winter underground where the temperature is relatively stable.

Reproduction

As spring approaches, the males emerge first and spend much of the day basking in an effort to raise body temperature and thereby metabolism. This may be a tactic to maximise sperm production, as the males mate with the females as soon as they emerge up to two weeks later in April, or earlier if environmental temperatures are favourable. The leathery-skinned eggs are laid in batches of eight to 40 in June to July and hatch after 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 centimetres (7 in) long when they hatch and are immediately independent.

Migration

After breeding in summer, snakes tend to hunt and may range widely during this time, moving up to several hundred metres in a day.[5] Prey items tend to be large compared to the size of the snake, and this impairs the movement ability of the snake. Snakes which 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.

Ecdysis (moulting)

Ecdysis occurs at least once during the active season. As the outer skin wears and the snake grows, the new skin forms underneath the old, including the eye scales which may turn a milky blue/white colour at this time — referred to as being 'in blue'. The blue white colour comes from an oily secretion between the old and new skins; the snake's coloration will also look dull, as though the animal is dusty. This process affects the eyesight of the snakes and they do not move or hunt during this time; they are also, in common with most other snakes, more aggressive. The outer skin is eventually sloughed in one piece (inside-out) and normal movement activity is resumed.

Defence

Not being venomous, the snake's main defence is to produce a garlic-smelling fluid from the anal glands, or to feign death (thanatosis) by becoming completely limp.[6] They may also perform an aggressive display in defence, hissing and striking without opening the mouth. They rarely bite in defence. They may also secrete blood (autohaemorrhage) from the mouth and nose whilst playing dead.[7] When caught they often regurgitate the contents of their stomachs.

Grass snakes 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, although the geographic ranges of grass snakes and of cobras overlap very little. However, the fossil record shows that the extinct European cobra Naja romani occurs in Miocene-aged strata of France, Germany, Austria, Romania, and Ukraine and thus overlapped with Natrix species including the extinct Natrix longivertebrata, suggesting that the grass snake's behavioral mimicry of cobras is a fossil behavior, although it may avail against predatory birds which migrate to Africa for the winter and encounter cobras there.[8]

Protection and threats

The species has various predator species, including corvids, storks, owls and perhaps other birds of prey, foxes, and the domestic cat. In England, grass snakes are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and cannot be harmed or traded without a licence, although they may legally be captured and kept in captivity. In Denmark, it is also protected,[9] as all five species of reptiles were protected in 1981.

Two of the subspecies are considered critically endangered: N. n. cetti (Sardinian grass snake) and N. n. schweizeri.[1] In 2007, the grass snake was included on the updated UK Biodiversity Action Plan as a species in need of conservation and greater protection.[10]

Mythology

Baltic people

In the mythology of the Baltic people, the grass snake (Lithuanian: žaltys, Latvian: zalktis, zaltis) is seen as a sacred animal. It was frequently kept as a pet, living under a married couple's bed or in a special place near the hearth. Supposedly, snakes ate food given to them by hand.[11]

After the Christianization of Lithuania, the grass snake still retained some mythological significance. In spite of the serpent's symbolic meaning as a symbol of evil in Christianity, in Latvia there were various folk beliefs, dating even to the late 19th century, that killing grass snakes might bring grave misfortune or that an injured snake will take revenge on the offender. The ancient Baltic belief of grass snakes as household spirits transformed into a belief that there is a snake (known or not to the inhabitants) living under every house; if it leaves, the house will burn down.[12] Common Latvian folk sayings include "who kills a grass snake, kills his happiness" and "when the Sun (Saule) sees a dead grass snake, she cries for 9 days".[13]

Well-known literary works based on these traditions include Eglė the Queen of Serpents and the Latvian folk fairytale "The grass snake's bride" (Zalkša līgava). These works include another common theme in Baltic mythology: that grass snakes wear crowns (note grass snake's yellow spots) and that there is a king of snakes who wears a golden crown. In some traditions the king of snakes changes every year; he drops his crown in spring and the other snakes fight for it (possibly based on mating of grass snakes).[14]

Today grass snakes hold a meaning of house blessing among many Latvians. One tradition is to put a bowl of milk near a snake's place of residence, although there is no evidence of a grass snake ever drinking milk.[15][16] Driven by late 19th century and 20th century Romantic nationalism, grass snake motifs in Latvia have gained a meaning of education and wisdom, and are common ornaments in the military, folk dance groups and education logos and insignia. They are also found on the Lielvārde belt.[17]

Roman

Virgil in his 29 BC Georgics (book III, lines 425-439: [1]) describes the grass snake as a large feared snake living in marshes in Calabria, eating frogs and fish.

Gallery

References

  1. ^ a b European Reptile & Amphibian Specialist Group (1996). "Natrix natrix". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 1996. Retrieved 16 August 2012.old-form url
  2. ^ Natrix natrix at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 3 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Kindler, Carolin; Chèvre, Maxime; Ursenbacher, Sylvain; Böhme, Wolfgang; Hille, Axel; Jablonski, Daniel; Vamberger, Melita; Fritz, Uwe (2017), "Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species", Scientific Reports, 7 (7378): 7378, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07847-9, PMC 5547120, PMID 28785033 open access
  4. ^ "Grass snake (Natrix natrix)". Wildsgk Arkive. Archived from the original on 2017-04-19. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  5. ^ a b c Brown, Peter (1992). "PhD thesis - Ecology and vagility of the grass snake Natrix natrix helvetica". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Milius, Susan (October 28, 2006). "Why Play Dead?". Science News. 170 (18): 280–1. doi:10.2307/4017568. JSTOR 4017568.
  7. ^ Gregory, Patrick T.; Leigh Anne Isaac; Richard A Griffiths (2007). "Death feigning by grass snakes (Natrix natrix) in response to handling by human "predators."". Journal of Comparative Psychology. 121 (2): 123–129. doi:10.1037/0735-7036.121.2.123. ISSN 0735-7036. PMID 17516791. Retrieved 2011-07-11.
  8. ^ Pokrant, Felix (24 October 2017). "Grass snakes (Natrix natrix, N. astreptophora) mimicking cobras display a 'fossil behavior'". Vertebrate Zoology. 67 (2): 261–269 – via ResearchGate.
  9. ^ "Snog". Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark. Miljø- og Fødevareministeriet. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  10. ^ BBC NEWS, Hedgehogs join 'protection' list
  11. ^ Straižys, Vytautas. The Cosmology of the Ancient Balts.
  12. ^ Britannica encyclopedia of world religions. Doniger, Wendy., Encyclopaedia Britannica, inc. Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. 2006. ISBN 9781593394912. OCLC 319493641.CS1 maint: others (link)
  13. ^ "Folklora Ailab".
  14. ^ "Ticējumi čūskas".
  15. ^ "Article "bringer of blessing"".
  16. ^ "Latvijas Daba".
  17. ^ "Zalkša zīme". Zīmju taka (in Latvian). 2014-01-31. Retrieved 2018-04-24.

 title=
license
cc-by-sa-3.0
copyright
Wikipedia authors and editors
original
visit source
partner site
wikipedia EN

Grass snake: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

The grass snake (Natrix natrix), sometimes called the ringed snake or water snake, is a Eurasian non-venomous snake. It is often found near water and feeds almost exclusively on amphibians. The barred grass snake, Natrix helvetica, was split off as a separate species in 2017.

license
cc-by-sa-3.0
copyright
Wikipedia authors and editors
original
visit source
partner site
wikipedia EN

Large-headed water snake

provided by wikipedia EN

The large-headed water snake (Natrix megalocephala) is a species of snake in the subfamily Natricinae of the family Colubridae.

Geographic range

Natrix megalocephala is native to the Caucasus region and has been recorded in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, and Turkey.[2]

Taxonomy

Natrix megalocephala was added to Annex II of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats in 1996, but as of 2005 taxonomic studies have recommended this taxon for removal as it may not be genetically distinct from Natrix natrix natrix.[3]

References

  1. ^ Tuniyev B, Ananjeva NB, Orlov NL, Tuniyev S (2009). "Natrix megacephala". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2009. Retrieved 2017-05-20.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)old-form url
  2. ^ Tuniyev, Boris; Ananjeva, Natalia; Orlov, Nikolai; Tuniyev, Sako (2009). "Natrix megalocephala: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2009.old-form url
  3. ^ Kasparek, Max (7 October 2005). "Taxonomic status of Natrix megalocephala". Strasbourg: Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Archived from the original on 11 August 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
 title=
license
cc-by-sa-3.0
copyright
Wikipedia authors and editors
original
visit source
partner site
wikipedia EN

Large-headed water snake: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

The large-headed water snake (Natrix megalocephala) is a species of snake in the subfamily Natricinae of the family Colubridae.

license
cc-by-sa-3.0
copyright
Wikipedia authors and editors
original
visit source
partner site
wikipedia EN