How big can garden snakes get

Native species of snakes

The adder (Vipera berus)

Adders are poisonous. Even if their bite is rarely fatal for us humans, one should avoid touching an adder. They belong to the viper family and, like all vipers, produce a poison that is similar to digestive enzymes. It damages organs and tissues and causes the victim's blood to clot.

Adders are viviparous, which means that their young hatch out of the egg during the birth process and are then left to their own devices. They become 50 to 80 centimeters long.

The venomous snakes are widespread in large parts of southern Germany, but are also found in northern Germany. You can easily recognize them by the black or brown zigzag pattern on the back, but in damp biotopes there are also completely black specimens.

The aspis viper (Vipera aspis)

The aspic viper's venom is somewhat stronger than that of the adder, but its bite is also not fatal to a healthy person. The aspis viper is extremely warmth-loving and is only found sporadically in Germany in the southern Black Forest.

Like all other snakes, it relies on sunny clearings to warm its body. Finding a suitable habitat is becoming more and more difficult because the organically managed forests, from which only a few trees are removed, are not a suitable habitat for snakes.

The endangered reptiles can live for more than 20 years and reach a body length of around 70 centimeters. They are easy to recognize by their triangular head and the characteristic upturned snout. The aspic viper is also viviparous. Each year in late summer, she gives birth to up to 18 young.

The Aesculapian Snake (Elaphe longissima)

The non-poisonous Aesculapian snake is the heraldic animal of doctors and pharmacists. The ancient Greek god of healing, Asclepius, held a staff in his left hand with a snake wrapped around its shaft. The Aesculapian staff was a symbol of prosperity, prosperity and fertility.

The Greek gods were later Romanized, and in the 3rd century BC Asclepius became the Roman god Asclepius, who had come as a crowned serpent to put an end to the plague epidemics in Rome.

Male Aesculapian snakes are up to 1.6 meters long, the females stay a little smaller. In the hunt for prey, the greenish or iridescent strangler snake even climbs trees.

The female lays five to eight eggs in June or July, from which the young adders hatch after 60 days. Aesculapian snakes can live up to 30 years.

The dice snake (Natrix tessellata)

Cube snakes are water snakes. Due to the increasing pollution of rivers and lakes, they are threatened with extinction in Germany. In Rhineland-Palatinate there are only three remaining populations on the Moselle, Nahe and Lahn.

In order to lay their eggs, the nontoxic snakes are dependent on debris and an intact bank embankment - habitats that are becoming increasingly rare on straightened rivers. Dice snakes are nimble swimmers and good divers. They usually hunt their prey, fish and amphibians, under water.

But even on land you won't miss a frog, a toad or a salamander. The grayish or brownish-black snake owes its name to the characteristic cube pattern on its back.

The grass snake (Natrix natrix)

Grass snakes are semi-aquatic, which means they live both in water and on land. In case of danger, the shy reptiles usually flee into the water and submerge. If the non-poisonous snake fails to flee from the enemy, it sprays a foul-smelling liquid or plays dead by rolling on its back and letting its tongue hang out of its mouth.

But the good swimmers mostly crawl ashore to hunt. If a grass snake has captured a toad, a salamander, a newt or a fish, it eats the defenseless animal alive without suffocating it first.

Female grass snakes are larger than their male counterparts, in rare cases they can grow up to two meters long. Although the grass snake is still one of the most common native species of snake, its population has also declined seriously.

The smooth snake or smooth snake (Coronella austriaca)

The smooth snake is much rarer and more endangered than the grass snake. It rarely becomes more than 70 centimeters long, making it the smallest native species of snake. With their spotted gray back, the females in particular could be confused with the adder by laypeople. However, the round pupils are a unique feature of the non-toxic adder.

In contrast to the other native species of adder, the smooth snake is viviparous and gives birth to up to 15 young each year, which are self-sufficient from day one. Smooth snakes feed on lizards and blindworms, and sometimes they also eat other young snakes. They kill their prey by strangling them before they are eaten.

Author: Pia Prasch