Adder, Grass Snake and Slow Worm facts
here are only three types of snakes that currently live in Great Britain. The adder, the grass snake and the smooth snake.
The Adder, (Vipera berus) is the only venomous snake native to Great Britain. Adders are not usually aggressive, but they are known to bite when accidentally stepped on or if someone tries to pick them up.
Like many species of snake, Adders can detect prey using their sensitive tongue, which is why they often poke their tongue out when on the move.
Adders will feed on small mammals, lizards, amphibians, and small birds.
Adders live 5-10 years. Many have zigzagging patterns, which can vary in intensity and size..
The Grass snake (Natrix natrix) is a non-venomous snake. It is often found near water and feeds almost exclusively on amphibians. Grass snakes are strong swimmers and may be found close to fresh water.
The snake’s only defence is to feign death by becoming completely limp or to produce a garlic-smelling fluid from the anal glands.
In England, both adders and grass snakes are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and cannot be harmed or traded without a licence.
Slow worms (Anguis fragilis) look like snakes but are actually legless lizards. They have thin eyelids and can blink. Snakes can’t blink as they have no eyelids.
Slow worms eat slugs, snails, spiders and earthworms. If threatened they produce a stinking poo and they can shed their tail to escape predators. It will grow back but not as long as before.
Slow worms are ovoviviparous, meaning the eggs hatch while they’re still in the female’s body. She later gives birth to the hatchlings, which are usually little more than four centimetres long.
Slow worms can live up to 30 years in the wild. Adult slow worms can reach a length of 50 cm.