Many people are probably familiar with the common grass snake. Meeting with him is not such a rarity, during it, alertness immediately disappears as soon as two bright (usually yellow-orange) spots at the base of the snake’s head catch your eye. Seeing them, it immediately becomes clear that this is a harmless, not at all poisonous snake. Let’s look into all the nuances of his life in more detail, characterize the habits, disposition and external features.
The origin of the species and description
The vast family of already-shaped includes as many as two-thirds of all snakes that inhabit the globe. It is not difficult to guess that the ordinary one is also one of the representatives of this snake clan. This reptile is not poisonous, therefore it is completely safe for humans.
People often mistake the snake for a dangerous viper, but there are a number of significant differences between them:
- bright spots on the back of the head they say that before you already;
- the body of the snake is more graceful – it is slender and has a greater length than the viper;
- snakes differ in the shape of the head, in a snake it resembles an oval, and in a viper it resembles a triangle;
- naturally, snakes do not have poisonous fangs (but you won’t notice it right away);
the pupils of snakes are vertical (like those of cats), while those of a viper look like transverse sticks.
If you go deeper, you can find many more distinguishing features, but all of them will not be noticeable to an ordinary layman and will not play any role when meeting with this or that reptile.
People have been known for a long time, before they were even specially kept as pets, because they cope with annoying mice just like a cat. Since ancient times, Ukrainians have believed that the harm caused to the snake invites failure on the offender, so these snakes were never offended and were not driven from the farmsteads.
Interesting fact: So popular that there is even a Ukrainian city named after him, this is Uzhgorod, located in the west of the country.
Exterior look and feel
The average snake length usually does not go beyond one meter, but there are specimens whose length reaches one and a half meters. Previously, a characteristic dinner feature has already been noted in the form of two symmetrically located spots that are located at the transition of the head to the body.
They are bordered by a black outline and can be:
- slightly yellowish;
- bright lemon;
An interesting fact: There are ordinary snakes in which bright spots in the occipital region are completely absent or very weakly expressed. Among snakes there are both albinos and melanists.
The dorsal part of the snake can be light gray and dark, almost black, sometimes has an olive or brownish tint. If the tone is already gray, then spots of dark shades may be noticeable on it. The belly of the reptile is light and lined with a black stripe, stretching almost to the very chin. The oval head of the snake stands out against the background of the body with a graceful neck interception. The tail of a reptile is 3 to 5 times shorter than the body. Male supper specimens are much smaller than females.
If we go into a more thorough and in-depth description of the common snake, then it is worth noting that rather large rectangular shields cover its head: parietal, preorbital, postorbital, temporal, upper labial and one frontal. The scales located on the ridge of the reptile are ribbed, and on the sides are smooth. Around the middle part of the body (in one row) there can be 19, 18 or 17 of them.
Where does the grass snake live?
Already an ordinary one has chosen almost the whole of Europe, only in the very north you will not meet him, he does not live beyond the Arctic Circle. In the northern latitudes, it is distributed from Karelia to Sweden. In the south, he inhabited the northern part of the African continent, reaching the sultry Sahara. The Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles are the western points of its habitat. From the east, the range reaches the center of Mongolia, the northern part of China and Transbaikalia. In our country, it can be called the most famous of all reptiles.
Common snakes adapt to completely different places, natural areas and landscapes. One of the most important conditions for their carefree existence is the presence near a reservoir, preferably with a weak current or without it at all.
Snakes are found:
- in wetlands;
- on forest edges;
- in forest thickets;
- river floodplains;
- steppe zones;
- in mountain ranges;
- in wet meadows;
- in shrubbery;
- coastal zones of various water bodies;
- mountainous areas.
Ordinary snakes do not shy away from people and can live in city parks, under bridges, near old dams. In rural areas, snakes can settle right in a chicken coop or barn, in a hay barn, cellar, barn, woodshed, where they feel great. Snakes can build their secluded shelters in a hollow, between tree roots, in a hole, in a haystack.
An interesting fact: There are cases when snakes settled in a village courtyard laid their eggs into the empty nests of ducks and chickens.
Now we know where our non-venomous snake lives. Let’s now figure out what the common grass snake eats in nature and how much food it needs for a carefree life.
What does the grass snake eat?
Photo: Non-venomous snake — already ordinary
The menu of the common grass snake can be called varied. For the most part, it consists of frogs.
Besides them, it can already have a snack:
- fish fry;
- newborn birds that have fallen out of their nests;
- water rat cubs;
- small rodents;
- insects and their larvae.
Plant foods are excluded from the dinner diet, they also do not consume carrion, but they liked milk, snakes living in captivity love it very much. Sometimes wild reptiles crawl to the smell of fresh milk, which the villagers leave in the barn for cats after milking the cow.
When fishing, snakes patiently wait for their prey, making a swift throw as soon as a small fish swims into its reach. The pursuit of frogs is carried out on the ground. A fish snack is swallowed by a snake instantly, but with a frog, he has to sweat, because. she resists and tries to slip away. The snake’s mouth has the ability to stretch greatly, so even heavy frogs and toads are successfully absorbed.
Interesting fact: One naturalist from Germany, as an experiment, did not feed the experimental snake for 10 months as an experiment. When he ate for the first time after a long hunger strike, both he and his stomach felt, surprisingly, just fine.
After a sickly meal, there comes an approximately five-day break, which is spent on digesting everything eaten. During one hunt, it can already absorb several frogs at once, and even tadpoles in addition, therefore, having eaten, it becomes clumsy and clumsy. If at this moment any enemy appears on the horizon, the already eaten food has to be regurgitated in order to become dexterous and mobile again.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
It is active during the daytime hours, and at night it prefers its secluded shelters. Ordinary is already very dexterous and mobile. The speed of its movement on the ground can reach up to eight kilometers per hour. It also moves very well through the trees. The water element for the snake is a favorite path, it acts as the main source of vitality for the reptile. Even the Latin name natrix, given to the snake by scientists, is translated as “swimmer”.
The swimmer from the snake is really excellent. Having dived into the water column, it can already stay there for about 20 minutes, on the surface it swims very impressive distances. He swims, like all snakes, vertically, twisting his flexible body.
Interesting fact: Already loves to swim and absorbs a lot of water. It usually swims along the shore of a reservoir, but there have been cases when snakes were found in large lakes and even seas tens of kilometers from the coastline.
He loves, like many other snake-like ones, he will soak up the sun, climbing on clear, sunny days to some hills. The start of wintering for snakes falls on October-November. Usually snakes hibernate collectively (several individuals), although some prefer complete solitude. Most often, for this harsh period, they settle in deep rodent burrows, or some kind of crevices. Hibernation ends in April, when the reptiles get out for solar heating, although they still feel lethargic and half-asleep, gradually gaining activity.
It is worth noting that snakes do not possess maliciousness and aggressiveness, their disposition is rather meek and friendly. Seeing people, he prefers to slip away in order to avoid meeting. So it, quite, can be called peaceful and harmless in relation to man reptiles. It has been noticed that it is also not difficult to tame a snake, they are not averse to making contact with people if they do not see a threat, but keeping them at home is a very troublesome business.
Social structure and reproduction
Snake snakes become sexually mature at three or four years of age. The wedding season begins with them after the first spring molt, in different regions the time frame may differ, but usually it falls on the end of April-May. In snakes, mating games are also possible in the fall, but then the laying of eggs is transferred to the spring.
Before mating, snakes are intertwined in the form of a ball, consisting of one female and many of her gentlemen. When the fertilization process is over, the female proceeds to the next stage – laying eggs.
The eggs of snakes are leathery, one female can lay from several to 100 pieces. It is necessary that they (the eggs) do not freeze and dry out, so the snake chooses a place that is both warm and humid, for example, dewy foliage, an impressive moss bedding, a rotten stump. The place is chosen very carefully, because. the female does not incubate, leaving her clutch.
Interesting fact: Female snakes can unite their claks if suitable places for individual ones cannot be found. In a forest clearing, people found a nest where they counted 1200 eggs.
After five or eight weeks, the snakes begin to hatch, the length of which is from 11 to 15 cm. Already from birth, they begin to look for a place for a safe wintering. Not all babies manage to accumulate fat before the onset of autumn colds, but even the most undernourished still survive until spring, only they look a little smaller than their well-fed counterparts.
Interesting fact: It is estimated that one in fifty Uzhonok is born two-headed, this is how nature disposes. Only such “Gorynychi snakes” do not live long.
Already can be considered centenarians, their life span often exceeds the twenty-year mark, on average these reptiles live from 19 to 23 years. The main condition for their longevity is the presence of a life-giving water source near the places of permanent deployment.
Natural enemies of snakes
The already-shaped family has a lot of enemies, because these snakes do not possess poisonousness. A variety of predators are not averse to feasting on the snake, so it can already become a snack for foxes, raccoon dogs, hedgehogs, weasels, badgers, martens, minks. Many birds attack snakes, so it can be eaten by a stork, serpent eagle, kite, heron. Large rodents, such as rats, can also grab a snake, especially a young and inexperienced one, moreover, they often ruin their supper nests by eating snake eggs.
Surprisingly, frogs and toads, which themselves become dinner for snakes, often eat small snakes. The destruction of supper eggs is carried out by insects such as ants and ground beetles. A small snake can also be eaten by large fish, for example, trout. Some other snakes also eat snakes.
Defensively, he is already trying to pretend to be a poisonous reptile: he slightly flattens his neck, emits a hiss, folds in a zigzag, nervously twitching the tip of his tail. So he tries to make a frightening impression on the ill-wisher, but if there is an opportunity to sneak away, then he, of course, does not miss it, preferring this option in the first place.
Interesting fact: The caught one already pretends to be dead or secretes a very fetid secret, thanks to his cloacal glands. With such maneuvers, he tries to divert danger from himself, because in the struggle for life, all means are good.
Snakes often become victims of a person who can kill them just like that, for no particular reason, or by mistaking them for a viper. Since these reptiles do not avoid human settlements, they often live next to a person, they often fall under the wheels of cars. So, snakes have a lot of enemies in natural conditions, especially young animals are at risk, so reptiles have to always be on the alert, and at dusk hide in their secluded shelters.
Population and view status
all continents. In general, the population of these peaceful reptiles does not experience any threats, and does not cause great concern about the reduction. The conservation status of snakes can be attributed to normal. Recently, there has not been a sharp widespread decline in the number of these snakes.
As for our country, ordinary snakes can be called one of the most common reptiles that feel great in a variety of natural areas, including anthropogenic ones. Despite the fact that the situation with the state of the grass snake population is favorable almost everywhere, there are regions where its numbers have significantly decreased and it has been included in the Red Book of individual regions. Such a situation develops, first of all, due to the stormy human activity, which is often selfish and directed for the benefit of only the people themselves, completely ignoring the interests and needs of our smaller brothers.
To no longer need protection and continue to please us with its large number, it is necessary, first of all, not to savagely invade the places of its permanent residence, to preserve secluded and reliable places for wintering and laying, to think in advance of decisions regarding any construction, including the laying of new highways. The main thing is not to lose humanity and take care.
Conservation of snakes
As mentioned earlier, not everywhere the situation for the life and development of snakes is successful, therefore, in some regions, the common one already needs protection. For the purpose of protection, it is listed in the Red Book of some regions: Moscow, Tver, Leningrad. It is also protected in the Republic of Karelia. In all these listed places, the number of reptiles has declined sharply, although earlier snakes were numerous.
The following unfavorable factors can be called the reason for this:
- deterioration of the ecological situation;
- severe pollution of all kinds of water bodies (water is vital for snakes);
- lack of space for successful living and laying eggs;
- displacement of the snake by a person from his permanent residence, as a result of plowing land, construction of roads, cities, etc.
In those regions where the common one is already listed in the Red Book, the status of its species is indicated as vulnerable and declining in numbers. In the regions, programs are being developed to restore the number of snakes in the territories of special, protected, protected areas. On the river banks, people recreate the near-water flora; special permitted places are allocated for mass swimming and recreation in such areas.
In conclusion, I would like to add that you are always surprised at how much you can learn about the seemingly familiar and well-known since childhood, the ordinary has already, about which people have created many legends and beliefs since ancient times, where the ordinary already acts as a symbol of good luck, the keeper of untold riches and treasures, and even the master of other reptiles.