As the weather hots up (ever hopeful!) we see more and more reports of snakes being seen in UK Gardens. Whilst this is shocking for those who find them (some of them can move pretty fast!), the likelihood of them actually hurting you is remote.
We thought that it might be a good time to share some information about the 3 types of native snakes that we have in the UK to put your mind at rest.
Slow worms – aren’t actually snakes at all, they are a legless lizard. They are shiny in texture and coppery brown in colour. They love to hide in compost heaps and under slabs . If you have a cat, you’re unlikely to have slow worms in your garden, as cats hunt them.
They are generally 30-40cms in length and can live up to 20 years (if pesky cats don’t eat them first!) Slow worms hibernate – usually from October to March (depending on the weather) and the males can sometimes have blue spots along their backs.
Slow worms do not bite humans, but they love to eat slugs and snails – so if you have them in your garden, look after them – they are natural slug control!
Grass Snakes – the largest species of UK snake – these regularly grow over 1m in length. They love to bask in the sunshine and they like to take a dip in garden ponds too!
These do look like snakes – they’re a dark greeny/brown in colour with a lighter yellow “collar”. They also have black markings on their skins and they like to lay their eggs in rotting vegetation -so your compost heap is ideal.
Grass snakes are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act – so please don’t kill them or destroy their nest sites.
Grass snakes do not bite – they are not venomous. They feast on frogs and toads, and occasionally small birds or fish.
When grass snakes feel threatened by predators, they either play dead or emit a foul smelling substance from their anal gland – it’s best to leave them alone!
Adders – are the only venomous snake in the UK – but they don’t really like to live in gardens, they’re much more secretive than that. You may however, see one if you are out walking, especially in open woodland and sea cliffs.
Adders will bite when they feel threatened, but their bites are rarely fatal.
Adders feed on small mammals and lizards.
Adders are usually around 60-80cms long and have a very distinctive zig-zag pattern on their backs. They are grey (males) or light brown (females) in colour. Sometimes, they can be almost completely black, but the zig zag pattern is still visible.
If your dog is bitten by a snake (much more likely for a dog to disturb them in their natural habitat) then you should seek veterinary attention quickly as snake bites can be much more serious in dogs than humans.
If you see a snake in the garden, marvel at the lovely nature – don’t be afraid of them- if you’re not keen on them, just keep your distance.
The Grassman team can identify native snakes for you if you’re lucky enough to see one.