Grass snake

Natrix natrix

Grass snake, photo Jussi Helimäki

Grass snake is one of the two snakes living in Estonia. As opposed to a common adder, the grass snake is not poisonous. They have a lot of subspecies, which differ by colour and body build. In most cases, they are different shades of grey. In Estonia, most of them are dark grey or brown. Partly or completely black grass snakes are also sometimes seen. In Estonia, completely black grass snakes can be encountered in Saaremaa. Their most distinctive feature are the light spots on both sides of the neck area. These spots are usually yellow, but may also be orange, greyish, or white. A female grass snake in Estonia can be up to 150 centimetres, but on average, they are 100 cm long. They mostly feed on frogs, toads, and fish. Grass snakes also eat lizards and mice, sometimes even chicks. Like other snakes and unlike lizards, their skull bones are movably connected, which is why they are able to eat animals bigger than their head. They only eat animals that are alive. Young grass snakes eat tadpoles, earthworms, and small fish. They mostly live in humid areas. Grass snakes can also often be found in gardens and even buildings. They hide under tree roots, in piles of rock, in the burrows of rodents, and heap of manure, but they can also make burrows in the forest decay themselves. They are threatened by weasels, martens, and other predators, storks and short-toed snake eagles as well as other birds of prey, hedgehogs, and cats. They are very fearful animals. In the case of danger or disturbance, they quickly and quietly escape to water or a hiding place. If they do not manage to escape, they hiss, hit the predator with their head, or pretend to be dead. They very rarely bite humans. In most cases, they simply hit people with their head. In most cases, they simply hit people with their head. Under protection (protection category III).