Species of the month:
March - Grass snake

Let us know if you've seen one on our form below

Mark Robinson and David Chamberlain Grass snake

Grass snake © (left) Mark Robinson (right) David Chamberlain


Common Name: Grass snake

Latin Name: Natrix natrix

Identification: Grass snakes are the largest of our 3 native snake species in the UK. They can grow between 70-100cm long. They are generally olive green in colour with black bars down its sides although colours can vary! The distinguishing feature which tells them apart from our other snakes is the yellow and black collar at the back of its head and its round pupil.

Behaviour: Grass snakes are non venomous and do not bite. They are very timid animals and will move off quickly if disturbed. They are often seen swimming across ponds and lakes in search of food. 

Eats: Amphibians such as frogs, toads and newts. But will also take small mammals, fish and birds.

Where can they be found? Often found in gardens especially in compost heaps (females like to lay eggs here) and ponds. They also love other wet areas like lakes, streams, marshes and ditches as well as parks, wet heathland (ponds!), hedgerows, open pastures and rough grassland.

  • Grass snakes are the only British snake to lay eggs!

  • Grass snakes can feign death if they feel threatened or cornered.

  • Grass snakes are protected by law in the UK.

Wildife Gardening Tips:

Here’s some top tips on how to make your garden friendly for grass snakes:

  • Provide lots of cover such as long grass and hedgerows.

  • Have a pond!

  • Stone piles, mounds and rubble piles are great places for grass snakes to hibernate in or to bask in the sun.

  • Have a compost bin that the females can lay their eggs in but be careful when you’re forking it over!

Let us know if you've seen a grass snake below...

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Where appropriate we will pass on the details of your sighting to Dorset Environmental Records Centre in order for it to be of use in local and national conservation projects.
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