A grass snake is a species of snake that mostly lives near bodies of water. Grass snakes mainly eat amphibians. These include mainly frogs, toads, and similar animals. Grass snakes are harmless to humans. She has no fangs.
Grass snakes live throughout Europe except in the northernmost areas. There are also grass snakes in parts of Asia. The males are mostly around 75 centimeters long, the females reach about one meter. At the back of the snakes’ heads, you can see two crescent-shaped spots that are yellow to orange.
How do grass snakes live?
Grass snakes wake up from hibernation around April. They then lie in the sun for a long time because they cannot warm up their bodies themselves. During this time, they molt, meaning they shed their skin. During the day they hunt: in addition to amphibians, they also like fish, birds, lizards, and small mammals.
Grass snakes want to multiply in spring. Sometimes many males fight over a female. After mating, the female lays 10 to 30 eggs. It looks for a warm place, for example, dung, compost, or reed heap. The mother leaves the eggs to themselves. Depending on the warmth, the young hatch after four to ten weeks. You are then dependent on yourself.
Grass snakes are very shy and will try to flee if disturbed. They can also stand up and puff themselves out to make an impression. They hiss with their mouths or bang their heads. However, they rarely bite and the bites are harmless. They can also expel a liquid that smells very foul. If you hold them, they will try to wriggle out. If all else fails, they play dead.
Around September or October, they look for a place to hibernate. This can be the burrow of a small mammal, a crevice in a rock, or a compost heap. The place should be as dry as possible and not too cold so that the grass snake survives the winter.
Are grass snakes endangered?
Grass snakes have natural enemies: wild cats, rats, badgers, foxes, martens and hedgehogs, storks, herons, and birds of prey or fish such as pike or perch like to eat grass snakes, especially the young ones. But these enemies are not a big danger, because they keep the different animal species in balance.
Worse is the disappearance of grass snakes’ natural habitats: they are finding fewer and fewer places to live. People drain swamps or block streams in such a way that the grass snakes or their food animals can no longer survive. Also, sometimes people kill a grass snake out of fear.
That is why grass snakes in our countries are protected by various laws: they must not be harassed, caught, or killed. Only that is of little use if habitats are destroyed. In many areas, they are therefore extinct or threatened with extinction.