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If a grass snake is doing the honors in your yard, there is no cause for concern. The native snake species is completely harmless to humans and pets. Read here what characterizes a grass snake, how to recognize it and how to behave properly if you encounter one.

Don't panic, grass snakes are harmless

On land and on water - grass snakes love garden ponds

Formal, strictly ordered and pesticide-infested gardens leave a grass snake in disgust by the side. The shy snake is choosy and prefers to grace natural gardens with a pond. As a semi-aquatic creature, the adder is not only native to land, but is also an excellent swimmer. Frogs, newts and unfortunately also fish are on their menu. Therefore, the European water snake species is not a welcome guest, although their visit signals that you as a gardener have done everything right.

Non-poisonous and shy - Characteristic features at a glance

Grass snakes can either be spotted sunbathing in the garden or swimming gracefully around the pond in search of their next meal. They like to hide in the compost heap to set up their nursery there. The snake species can be clearly identified by the following characteristics:

  • Slender body shape with a length of 75 cm (males) to 150 cm (females)
  • Distinctive feature: 2 crescent-shaped, yellow nape spots
  • Body colors: olive green, olive gray, brownish to greenish
  • Upper side: small, black spots in 4 to 6 rows

Grass snakes are in high season between March and May, so 20 to 30 pencil-sized juvenile snakes can be romping about in your garden and pond at this time.

No hunting - grass snakes are strictly protected

Grass snakes are in danger of extinction as their habitats shrink dramatically. Therefore, the good-natured snakes have been subject to strict protection under the Federal Nature Conservation Act for several years. It is illegal to disturb, catch or even kill grass snakes. However, a firm stomp is enough to drive the snakes away never to be seen again.

Take it easy - Tips for the right behavior

If you encounter a grass snake in your garden, there is no reason to panic. Please leave an escape route open for the shy animal, because it will quickly run away. If the adder sees no chance of escape, it defends itself with mock attacks. Although she strikes with her head, the mouth with the sharp teeth remains closed.

Please do not touch the snake, as it will emit a secretion that gives off an infernal stench. In its distress, the harassed grass snake could then bite. A bite is not poisonous. However, the needle-sharp teeth can cause painful injuries.


Can't you see the characteristics described in a snake in your garden? Then it is not a grass snake, but the very rare smooth snake. These snakes are less conspicuous and smaller than grass snakes and cannot swim. Since they hunt mice and other pests, the non-poisonous smooth snakes also make a valuable contribution to the ecological balance.

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