Grass Snake (Natrix natrix, Linnaeus 1758)
The Grass Snake is not venomous and does not bite.
The Grass Snake belongs to the
water snakes. In Wuppertal and surroundings the female grass snake is seldomly
longer than 100 cm, some animals grow up to 110 cm. The male snake is
significantly smaller with approx. 80 cm.
A female grass snake measured near Wesel in 1994 was 135 cm long. To the best of my knowledge, this was the largest grass snake found in Northrhine-Westphalia.
After hibernation, approximately from October until April, the grass snakes mate. In June or July the female snake deposits approximately 7 – 55 eggs, usually between 20 and 40 eggs (see photos), in horse dung, compost, cut grass etc. ((fermentation heat !).
In September the young animals cut through the egg shell with a special egg tooth and slide out of the egg after 1 – 2 days (see photos). They usually measure between 13 – 21 cm and have a weight of 2 – 3.5 g (not larger than a pencil). Normally, they remain at the clutch and begin hibernation, sometimes without food intake.
With 3 – 4 years the male snake becomes pubescent, the female snake between 4 –5 years. They can reach more than 20 years of age.
Usually, the grass snake hides in a mousehole or under stones when approached (at a minimum dinstance of approx. 8 m). Only if the grass snake becomes surprised it can occur that they display an aggressive behaviour and utter loud hisses.
The grass snake mostly lives in humid areas near
rivers and ponds, but sometimes the snake can also be found in cities (several
found cases in the inner city of Wuppertal).
Today, allotment gardens with garden ponds and compost heaps also form its habitat.
The grass snake is registered in the RED LIST
of animals in danger with the status "in danger". The grass snake is
protected by the Federal Law for Nature Protection and may not be persecuted.