Head of a coiled female grass snake

Grass snake

Reaching nearly two metres, grass snakes are the UK's largest reptile and our only snake to lay eggs. A grass snake's speed and wariness makes it incredibly difficult to spot, but once cornered it is one of the few animals that play dead as a defence against predators. If this ploy fails, a foul-smelling substance from the anus and repeated head strikes are employed to aid the escape. Grass snakes are active predators themselves of frogs and toads. Even fish, small mammals and birds aren't safe - those are grabbed and swallowed whole. Common and widespread in Europe, grass snakes are usually to be found near water where there is plenty of shelter and warm morning sunshine for basking in. They hibernate during the cooler winter months.

How to identify UK reptiles.

Scientific name: Natrix natrix

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Ringed snake,
  • Water snake

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Map showing the distribution of the Grass snake taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Grass snake can be found in a number of locations including: Asia, Europe, Mediterranean, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales, Ynys-hir nature reserve. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Grass snake distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 1996

Classified by: IUCN 2.3

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