1. What are the common species of snake in the UK?
The species that are found in Britain are:
- the Adder or Viper (Vipera berus);
- the Grass Snake (Natrix natrix);
- the Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca) and
- the Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis).
2. How can I identify these snakes?
The Adder is a rather squat snake which grows up to a length of 47cm (19 inches) and can be readily identified by the wide zigzag dark or black stripe along its back.
The Grass Snake is our largest snake growing up to 200cm (66 inches) in length. It is green or brown on its back, the belly is a checkering of black and white scales and it has rows of black spots on its back and sides. It also has bright yellow spots on its head where its "ears" would be.
The Smooth Snake is a small, (up to 60cm, 24 inches) slender snake, usually grey or brownish with rows of small black spots.
The Slow-worm, although it looks like a snake, is in fact a legless lizard. It differs from a snake in that its jaws cannot un-hinge like a snake's to swallow large prey and if caught by a predator a slow-worm can shed its tail like a lizard. Slow-worms grow up to 40cm (16 inches) in length. The skin is very smooth and has few markings apart from a dark stripe along its back. The body is brown or golden on top, the belly and sides being black or dark grey.
3. Does Harlow Council treat for snakes?
No. All these reptiles are protected species and it is an offence to kill them