Grass snake

LIVING HABITS

The non-venomous grass snake prefers living by the waters. It prefers terrain with the protection of vegetation and rocks, but likes to bask in the sun also. Grass snakes are strong swimmers. On a hot summer day they may stay floating on the water. Grass snakes prey mainly on amphibians, especially the common toad and the common frog, although the young ones may also eat ants and larvae. Sometimes they climb in trees and bushes in search of food. The grass snake lays its eggs in a damp and warm place. Compost heaps, and rotting vegetation, is ideal for the purpose. The grass snake breeds in south-western parts of Finland, on the southern coastline and by the lakes south from the Parkano-Kitee line. It may be found in the north by great lakes or on river-banks. The northernmost spotting is in Paltamo.

PROTECTION

The grass snake is an endangered species in Finland, and is a protected species by law.

ADAPTING TO THE WINTER

The grass snake hibernates in a hole on the ground.

Grass snake

Natrix natrix

CLASS:

ORDER:

SIZE: Length: 75-90cm, females longer than males (the longest found in Finland: 134cm).

BREEDING: The female lays 6-40 eggs in May-June, incubation period: 5-11 weeks.

LIFESPAN: Max. 20 years.

Did you know that like other reptiles also the grass snake is cold-blooded, meaning that its body temperature changes according to the environment? In the cold it hibernates; its metabolism slows down to a point where it is barely alive. For the winter it searches a place where the temperature remains just above zero. The winter place cannot be too warm either; the metabolism has to slow down well enough; otherwise it will use its reserve nutrition before spring arrives.