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Grass Snake Identification & Sightings

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Herpetofauna Native to the UK
Forum Name: Grass Snake
Forum Description: Forum for all issues concerning Natrix natrix
URL: http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=19
Printed Date: 18 Oct 2019 at 2:26pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: Grass Snake Identification & Sightings
Posted By: INFORMATION
Subject: Grass Snake Identification & Sightings
Date Posted: 18 Feb 2003 at 2:38pm

A description and images of the Grass Snake Natrix natrix may be found at:

 

http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/grass_snake.htm - http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/grass_snake.htm

 

« Alan Hyde


 

 

http://www.gjscenics.co.uk/rauk/Images/animals/Natrixnatrix2.jpg -  




Replies:
Posted By: INFORMATION
Date Posted: 05 Apr 2003 at 8:21am

Grass Snake Distribution

Date Species Location Stage Notes Sex Sighting Submitted by
22/03/03 Grass Snake Hartland Moor
Female and Small Male Mating
T. Phelps
27/03/03 Grass Snake Matchams


T. Phelps
28/03/03 Grass Snake Hartland Moor
Female and Four Males in mating ball
T. Phelps
31/03/03 Grass Snake Purbeck Adult 2 Males 1 Female mating
T. Phelps

Please add your Grass Snake sightings below so they may be added to the above table and the RAUK distribution map.

If you are unsure of the forum policies regarding accuracy of site descriptions and sighting reports please review them before posting.

http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/Forum%20policies.htm

 



Posted By: Wolfgang Wuster
Date Posted: 24 Apr 2003 at 10:48am
April 20th, north of Newbury - 1 male, 1 specimen of unknown sex. Photo is of the male.



Cheers,
Wolfgang


Posted By: Alan Hyde
Date Posted: 24 Apr 2003 at 5:05pm

Hi Wolfgang , great pic as always.

One question though , well two actually ... how do you sex natrix in the field? Also , you said you borrowed a dig camera for the pics , do you know wht make it was?

 

Cheers.

Alan



Posted By: Wolfgang Wuster
Date Posted: 25 Apr 2003 at 4:01pm
Camera: Canon EOS DX30 - an SLR. Very expesnive, but slightly dated.

Sexing: in this case, I just looked at the tailbase, which was clearly swollen - this indicates a male in most species, but I am more than willing to be corrected if someone here knows better in the case of N. natrix.

Cheers,

Wolfgang


Posted By: -LAF
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2003 at 8:54am

Wow, never found any of these on the Island. Lots of Adders but never Natrix. I'd heard they occured on one of the RSPB sites there but the only place I ever saw one in N. Wales was on the Llyn peninsula. Arnold's Atlas shows a few sites on Anglesey but, like I said, they always provided me a no-show. Do you know what their status is like on the island? Are they doing as well as the Adders are there?

Cheers, Lee.



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Lee Fairclough


Posted By: Wolfgang Wuster
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2003 at 9:29am
Lee,

This was Newbury, Berkshire, not Newborough, Anglesey ;-)

I have never seen any at all anywhere in N. Wales and certainly not on Anglesey. Apparently, some years back, one used to frequent the disused pond beind the Brambell Bldg. in bangor, though. I have heard that they are reasonably common around Porthmadog, though.

I have to say that I am more than a little skeptical about the various Biological Recording Schemes - too many people tend to confuse things, and the recording bodies themselves screw up as well. I remember sending records of slow worms and common lizards to one county recorder, and when I later went to see some more of his records, I found that the information for the two species had been transposed. Moreover, the supposed adder localities in the county that I checked out all yielded grass snakes (and generally looked likeperfect grass snake habitat), but no adders.

Go figure...

Cheers,

Wolfgang

Cheers,

Wolfgang


Posted By: -LAF
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2003 at 7:43pm

Ooops!, In hindsight I seem to remember something about a Newbury that had a by-pass built neer it on the news now. My brain obviously doesn't function too well at 9am.
Grass snake in Bangor wouldn't totally surprise me. Slow worm and common lizard both do well there and local kids all seem to have seen grass snake in the same places behind Bangor mountain (one description was perfect - "they're green and their s**t stinks to **** yeah"). After checking them out they did look likely spots.  The one I saw was crossing a road nr Nefyn (was in a car full of shapees who wouldn't have appreciated stopping to take a closer look - and we were after a pub...) The woods around Llanderfel (nr Wrecsam) are apparently a good place too. Anyway, I'm gonna go off and brush up on my geography!

Cheers, Lee.



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Lee Fairclough


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 01 Jun 2003 at 10:16am
Harry, I moved your post to "unwanted grass snakes"


Posted By: penbox
Date Posted: 15 Jul 2003 at 7:35pm
Originally posted by Tony Phelps Tony Phelps wrote:

April 12

Mendips  -  Grass snakes mating - 2 males + female other males nearby

April 15 Chobham Very warm and sunny

2 nice size females, one basking on side of path est 85cm

other moving casually across parh in shade nicely marked est 80cm

also another male I think (ask Gareth M. he was with me)

Frensham stil very warm biggie female moving slowly across path 127cm

very aggressive - got sprayed - don't really mind the smell, get used to it I suppose. The wife thinks differently, had to eat dinner in garden with the dog.

April 16 2 nice size males, 70cm & 75cm at a rescue site in Hampshire Nr Fleet.

Tony

 



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paul D.


Posted By: penbox
Date Posted: 15 Jul 2003 at 7:39pm
I have seen one (possably two) grass snakes in my garden pond in cranbrook kent. it is about 3 feet long and swims in the pond in full view. deffinaitly a grass snake dark olive green (almost black) with a white flash behind the head. the second one hasnt been seen as often and is slightly shorter and lighter in colour. we used to have an abundance of frogs but now there are non. i am just hoping that they dont start eating the fish!!!

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paul D.


Posted By: pauldunf
Date Posted: 19 May 2004 at 7:05pm

Male and female grass snakes seen today, 19/05/54, in my garden in Chaldon, Surrey.  Female something like 1.5 metres and male about 1.0 to 1.2 metres.  Female laying by side of the pond before swimming across into a dense conifer garden adjoining the pond.  Male emerged from the centre of the pond and eventually disappered into the same conifer garden after laying on the outskirts for five minutes or so.  Both snakes olive green/brown.

This is the first spotting I have made for about 2 years.  I'm sure they're always there - just don't get to see them too often.  Lots of tadpoles around right now - must be an abundance of food.  The pond itself is about 20 feet long by 15 feet wide with a natural surround of long grasses and water plants - with the conifer garden adjoining the pond at one end.

The compost heap is about 150 feet or more from the pond.  Is this likely to be used for egg laying or is it more likely they use natural compost from fallen leaves etc in the dense conifer garden?



Posted By: frogworlduk
Date Posted: 27 May 2004 at 7:00pm

hello all.

i think i have read about this before, but i can't remember. i have a grass snake that i keep finding under one of my tins, but it has blue eyes. they are pale blue and look like they completely cover the complete eye. it's  a sub adult i believe, male.

any thoughts on what is wrong with it?

mark jacobs

 



Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 27 May 2004 at 9:49pm

Mark,

It's 'in the blue' coming up to shed it's skin. Grass snake are often found under tin in this state, it's a time when they seem to seek extra heat. As the old skin breaks away the eyes become opaque with a distinct bluish tinge. In a few days it will shed and look like new :0)



Posted By: Wolfgang Wuster
Date Posted: 28 May 2004 at 9:41am
Mark,

You say you keep finding it - how many times have you found it, over what period of time, and were the eyes always blue?

Normally, as Gemma said, blue eyes simply mean the approach of shedding, but that only lasts for ~ 1 week, so if you found it week after week after week, always with blue eues, then there is soemthing pecuiliar going on.

Cheers,

Wolfgang

-------------
Wolfgang W├╝ster

School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor

http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/


Posted By: frogworlduk
Date Posted: 28 May 2004 at 1:30pm

i have only seen it this week, but everyday so far this week. today i found it again and it only had a slight bit of blue left the rest was clear. so i take it from this that the snake was just shedding it's skin.

but it did look rather odd and cool.

mark

 



Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 28 May 2004 at 2:00pm

Mark, the eyes will clear for 1-3 of days before the snake sloughs (usually), they do look lethargic and ill when in this state.

I would guess once it sloughs you won't see the same snake under the tin anymore, let us know if you do though, and if you find the sloughed skin.



Posted By: frogworlduk
Date Posted: 09 Jun 2004 at 6:11pm

hello,

i've been surveying a site at merrist wood college for around a month now, but i've seen up to now no juvenilles of any species ( or what i know of). until about two days ago. yesterday and today inclusive i have now seen around 16 grass snakes, 5 juvenile slow worms and 4 juv. adders.

now the question i ask are these from last year or really early newbies?

all species were VERY small with the grass snakes being about as thin as big as a pencil!!

mark



Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 09 Jun 2004 at 7:37pm

last years, grass snakes will only just begin laying eggs about now with the bulk hatching in September, adder usually give birth only weeks before they go into hibernation. I've just surveyed a site in Essex, all but one of the grass snakes were either sub-adult or juveniles from last year and these were tiny too.



Posted By: frogworlduk
Date Posted: 10 Jun 2004 at 7:05pm

although it's good to tell what age they are, why do you think they have suddenly started appearing now?

is it because they hibernate for much longer or...?

mark

 



Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 10 Jun 2004 at 11:35pm

Hi Mark,

I wouldn't have thought it had anything to do with hibernation this late into the season, maybe they just took longer to use the refugia.

Strange though, as most of my records show juveniles and sub-adults using refugia first, they are usually far more abundant at a given site than adults.



Posted By: sian
Date Posted: 03 Apr 2005 at 7:46pm
 Was walking this mild evening at the edge of a small undisturbed wood near Stansted. Wonderful grass snake about 18 inches - 2 feet long, very green with a surprisingly bright acid-yellow collar, sitting exposed in the middle of this wide dirt track. Quite relaxed about moving into the wood. Have no experience or particular interest in snakes, but thought you'd like a report of a very pleasant sighting. Would love to know its likely age and/or likely sex.

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Sian


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 04 Apr 2005 at 7:42am

Sian,

thanks for letting us know. Very difficult to tell the sex without close inspection, but, at that length (depending on if it were a male or female haha) it would probably be about three to four years old. They can grow over six feet in length but they are not quite so relaxed about getting seen when they get to that age.

If you have a water body close by, its probably worth another look as you may see more of them. Yesterday morning I saw three, all in the water, which I felt and it was freezing cold to the touch. Happy hunting.

Robert V



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RobV


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 05 Apr 2005 at 11:06pm

Ok all, get this. Last saturday morning at 9.45am, sun up but still only about 11 degrees cent and water so cold i could hardly hold my hand in it, who should be in for a swim?........ You'll note that it was 2nd April, not the 1st!!

RobV



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RobV


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 05 Apr 2005 at 11:16pm

Ps,

i've thought for a while now that many male Grass snakes migrate to the water instead of mating while others stay behind on the plains with the females until much later, say end of april. If, like adders, Grassies only mated every other year, it might explain things?  



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RobV


Posted By: Ruth
Date Posted: 06 Apr 2005 at 5:29pm

Spotted this one in our pond on 03 April 05, it's much bigger than the one we found in our garden in August 04

Ruth



Posted By: Alan Hyde
Date Posted: 07 Apr 2005 at 11:01am
Excellent Stuff Ruth ! Thank you for sharing the pictures .
Wish I had Grass Snakes visiting my pond .

All the best,
Al


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 07 Apr 2005 at 5:20pm

Good one Ruth!

Have you got frogs/toads in your pond? If NOT, how about buying a few small common carp to keep the snake ineterested! (lol, I know I'll get shouted at for that one)



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RobV


Posted By: Ruth
Date Posted: 07 Apr 2005 at 9:17pm

Originally posted by Robert V Robert V wrote:

Have you got frogs/toads in your pond?

Yep, we have frogs (not many though), this one was resting very near to the grass snake, not sure if it would have been too large for the snake or not.  In fact it was only due to the fact that the snake had a frog by its leg that drew my husbands attention to the pond, BTW, that particular frog got away

We very much hope to have see more sightings of it and perhaps see a few youngsters later in the year.

LOL, as for the carp comment, let's just say, there's plenty of choice in the pond!!!

Ruth

Edited to post photo



Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 07 Apr 2005 at 11:06pm
Ruth, glad the frog got away. Much rather a few carp became lunch....especially because of the amount of carp ponds around now and the fact that they devour all the frog and toad spawn!

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RobV


Posted By: asterix
Date Posted: 23 May 2005 at 10:37am

Hi

I have used the information on your web page and particularly Ruth's pictures to help me identify a grass snake in our garden pond in Rutland.  It is about 1 inch across and I guess 18 to 24 inches long.  The pond contains newts and frogs.  Although we did have some frogspawn this this year there was less than usual and there seem to be fewer frogs as well.  Can I expect to see more than one snake?  Is there anything I should do about it?

David



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Asterix, Rutland


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 23 May 2005 at 12:49pm

David,

I think most of the members would agree with me when I say, there seems to be a reduction in frog spawn everywhere this year, not only your pond......Come to that there seems to be a reduction in Grass snake numbers as well, so i think you're very lucky to have one visiting on a regular basis. like I said to ruth, you could get some small carp to stock the pond if you want to keep the grassie interested. If i were you, I'd invest in one of those small hides/tents, set it up one night so that you can see the pond clearly and wait for a sunny morning. You have the ideal opprotunity to grab a photo of a grass snake swallowing a small fish.....It would be great if you could log it on here afterwards so that we can all see!

Cheers Robert



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RobV


Posted By: cressy
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2005 at 2:57pm
hi, I'm totally new to this forum, but hope you dont mind me adding in a grass snake sighting!  it was in our kitchen garden, 'sunbathing' on a vertical old stone wall, and I've identified it from the pictures on your site.  I went in to get the children to come and see it, but unfortunately they were a bit loud as we went back out, and it had disappeared...
we are in Kent, very close to the sea, and this is the first grass snake I have seen here in about 5 years, although I have seen several slow worms too.  do we not see them because they are rare, or because they hide themselves away?  I was thrilled to see it.


Posted By: Alan Hyde
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2005 at 4:21pm
Hi Cressy
Welcome to the forums .

I'm glad you managed to see a grassy in your garden, that's excellent news

I've been into reptiles since I was very young , and now at age 41 I can honestly say I still get very excited when I see a snake.

To answer your question, Our reptiles are becoming rarer and they're definitely not as easy to see as when I was young .
Also, you may not often see snakes because you're not that familiar with them . Once you start looking in the right places you'll find that your eye becomes trained to spotting them .

Thanks for telling us about your grass snake , hope to speak to you again here
Alan


Posted By: cressy
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2005 at 6:04pm
thanks for the reply  and the welcome - can you recommend a quick and easy way to find out more about  reptiles in the UK?  we also get lizards (unfortunately brought in by the cats, but very often still alive) and also lots of  frogs here.  trouble is, if you google reptiles you get so much info that its hard to sift through - I'd like to be able to identify things and know about their habitat, lifestyle, how we can encourage more, etc etc. - a good book recommendation would be great!


Posted By: Peter Vaughan
Date Posted: 18 Nov 2005 at 8:00pm

Great to see the Forum back .

It seemed easier to observe the Grass Snakes at my local reserve during September and October - perhaps because the vegetation had thinned out a bit and temperatures were that bit cooler.  My last sighting was on 16 October, but here is a photograph of one on a log pile taken on 10 September.

 

thinned



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Peter Vaughan


Posted By: Mick
Date Posted: 19 Nov 2005 at 10:16am
Peter. That's a lovely photo' of a Grass snake in the some Bramble.


Posted By: arvensis
Date Posted: 01 Jun 2006 at 5:44pm
Here's a Juvenile from yesterday.

Mark


Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 02 Jun 2006 at 8:37am
Nice one Mark. Did you get 'slimed' ? :P, although it looks settled(ish).

-------------
Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: arvensis
Date Posted: 02 Jun 2006 at 1:51pm
Steve,
          I didn't get skunked because I wasn't the one holding it!   There was another one underneath a tin which would've made a nice piccy if someone else lifted the tin.   I was on my own at the time and its a bit tricky with a DSLR. 

 I should be out next week if the weather isn't too hot and hopefully will find more.

Did you get my reply to your PM regarding CA?  Should be out looking for those too.

Cheers, Mark


Posted By: matchless
Date Posted: 04 Jun 2006 at 10:22am

I've been keeping watch on several good local sites for Grass Snakes over the spring and haven't been lucky. Yesterday I return from a search and take a look at my garden pond only to disturb this fine looking lady (?). She has Newts and Goldfishfish for company, at the moment.

She has been out on the logs and rocks and seems quite at home. The pond is rather small-two x four and she seems to fill it. I estimate her size to be about 24-30 inches.

 

Tony



Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2006 at 8:54am

Tony,

great pic, and by the look of your grassie, shes either gravid or has been making the most of your goldfish and newts!

Rob



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RobV


Posted By: yellowhammer
Date Posted: 13 Jun 2006 at 6:30am
Hi guys, I'm a new user as I only found the site yesterday. just found this lovely girl 4 feet up a hornbeam overhanging a foot path. photo by Lily, age 6!


Posted By: yellowhammer
Date Posted: 13 Jun 2006 at 6:37am

Another picture by Lily, who is angry because I left her age off the last post - she is 6



Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 13 Jun 2006 at 7:14am

Hi Yellowhammer,

Was the observation in the evening? I would be interested to know if the grassie was foraging in the hornbeam or trying to catch the last rays of the sun.

Excellent piccies from Lily by the way! 



Posted By: yellowhammer
Date Posted: 13 Jun 2006 at 9:17am

Spot on, we found her at 18.30, after a particuarly hot day. air temperature at the time was about 20 degrees with no breeze so I don't think the snake was basking. This is the second grassie I've found up a tree, and both of them were next to water bodies containing large populations of marsh frogs (north Kent marshes) so food supplies aren't short.

Has anybody else come across this before?



Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 13 Jun 2006 at 2:18pm
I've only seen grass snake enter low bushes a handful of times, each time they were foraging, clearly examining different aspects of the bushes - this also was near to ponds, perhaps a diet of frogs gets tedious after a while! I would be interested to hear from anyone else who has seen grass snakes in trees and bushes and the behavior observed also Yellowhammer.


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 13 Jun 2006 at 5:20pm

Gemma/Lily/yellowhammer,

you'll be pleased to know that Grass snakes do frequent trees and Ive seen it on several occasions and maybe thats another reason why they are missed by people searching. In the pics Ive sent you for the post, this adult was barely visible 15ft up in a rotten trunk. There was an old nest in the top so maybe it was after baby birds. I only spotted it by sheer fluke, but now I know to always look up! Sorry the quality is not great but no tripod that day. Cheers

Rob 



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RobV


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 13 Jun 2006 at 6:06pm

Robs piccy,

excellent stuff! Hope you don't mind me adding another arrow to show where he was in the first image Rob.

I remember falling asleep at Hindhead commons, when I awoke apart from being surrounded by adders there were two grassies foraging in low bushes.. glad I'm not the only one to see them in trees and bushes



Posted By: yellowhammer
Date Posted: 17 Jun 2006 at 7:50am
yeah, lovely stuff. how on earth you spotted that I'll never know. I have enough trouble finding them on the ground! 'My' grassie didn't seem to be hunting but I didn't really watch for too long.


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 21 Aug 2006 at 3:31am

For amatuers info really: here are typical examples of head shape. The wider one being a typical female, the more slender one being the male. I stress that this is a general rule only to give people some idea as to what sex they have seen. BUT, in about the second, third years ie young adults, it can be hard to distinguish and you can only really be sure by the Snout to vent / tail length calculation. Sexing with probes should NEVER be carried out/attempted by amateurs as it can damage the sexual reproductive organs, so if you find one and want to report your findings then by all means use this "rough" guide.

Cheers

robert



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RobV


Posted By: jpr1981
Date Posted: 12 Sep 2007 at 9:46am

A couple of nice closeups taken of a grassie in Yeovil - see garden sightings for full post!

A nice macro shot of the head!

A preys eye view!



Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 02 Oct 2007 at 12:11pm

 

Hey Jpr,

Your Grassie appears to have 4 post ocular scales - very unusual. I've not seen 4 before.

Rob



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RobV


Posted By: Peter
Date Posted: 03 Jun 2008 at 1:58pm
I saw two grass snakes today, one in particular was a prolonged view.  Both were assumed female as they were large with broad heads.   It was at a site that I had never before visited, I was there to survey Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies), the two grassies were a bonus.    They were both at the west end of a square shaped fishing lake in Neath, West Glamorgan.  Grid reference available to the right people.


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 04 Aug 2009 at 6:31am
see two nats at 8am Sunday after heavy rain both stretched out on a concrete sluice river wall drying out keith

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   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID



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