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Do you think snakes only live in distant lands? No, you can also encounter a specimen of the native snake species on your hike in Germany. We introduce you to six types.

In a nutshell

  • Snakes are very rare in Germany
  • most species are non-toxic
  • all native snakes are strictly protected
  • The reason for the disappearance is the decrease in habitat
  • 3000 species worldwide, only six species in Germany

Aesculapian snake (Elaphe longissima)

Everyone knows the Aesculapian snake. She is the symbolic animal of the medical profession. The non-venomous snake is one of the largest Central European snake species. Individual specimens reach a length of two meters. Aesculapian snakes can live up to thirty years.

  • Length: 150 to 180 centimeters
  • Head: narrow head, eyes with round pupils
  • Characteristics: Light brown on top, light underneath, darkening from head to tail, scales with fine white stripes, some yellow spots on both sides of the back of the head
  • Mating: May to June, 5 to 8 eggs
  • Offspring: July to August
  • Occurrence: few specimens in the Rheingau, Odenwald, Taunus
  • Habitat: Vineyards, deciduous forests, bushy quarries
  • Food: mice, moles, birds

Notice: The juveniles of the Aesculapian snake are very strikingly colored. They have bright yellow neck rings and dark blotches throughout on the light brown back coloring.

Aspis viper (Vipera aspis)

The asp viper lives in sunny, rocky biotopes. Their poison is stronger than that of the adder.

  • Length: 60 to 70 centimeters
  • Head: broad, triangular head, eyes with vertical slit-shaped pupil, yellowish iris
  • Characteristics: gray to grey-brown, males more contrasting than females, dark transverse bands, flanks with dark, rectangular spots
  • Mating: April to May, frequent comment fights
  • Offspring: October, 4 to 16 young
  • Occurrence: few occurrences in the southern Black Forest
  • Habitat: very warm and sunny biotopes, rocky, with many places to hide
  • Food: lizards, small mammals

Notice: Asp vipers can live up to twenty years.

Adder (Vipera berus)

The adder is one of the very rare snake species in Germany. She is very shy. Adders are poisonous, their bite is rarely fatal.

  • Length: 60 to 80 centimeters
  • Head: Elongated head, eyes with vertical slit-shaped pupil, reddish iris
  • Characteristics: males gray to grey-brown, slender, females yellow-brown to dark brown, longer and clumsier, dark zigzag band on the back, flanks with dark spots
  • Mating: April to May, frequent comment fights
  • Offspring: September to October, 4 to 18 young
  • Occurrence: Southern Germany, Northern Germany
  • Habitat: moist biotopes with many hiding places and sunny places
  • Food: lizards, mice

Grass snake (Natrix natrix)

Grass snakes live in water and on land (semiaquatic). In dangerous situations, grass snakes can play dead.

  • Length: 70 to 85 centimeters
  • Head: Narrow head, eyes with round pupils, nostrils directed upwards
  • Characteristics: blue-grey to greenish, more rarely brown or black, underside white with a checkered pattern, yellow crescent-shaped spots on the back of the head,
  • Mating: April to May, 10 to 40 eggs
  • Offspring: July
  • Occurrence: Mainly in western parts of Germany
  • Habitat: Biotopes with dry, sunny places and small bodies of water
  • Diet: Amphibians and small rodents

Notice: Grass snakes used to be considered a symbol of good luck. It was assumed that they possessed the ability to ward off diseases. Farmers put a bowl of milk in front of them at night to cheer them up. The cats were probably the most happy about it.

Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)

Smooth snakes are also known as smooth snakes or hazel snakes. They are smaller than other snake species and very inconspicuous. This snake species is very rare in Germany and particularly threatened with extinction.

  • Length: 60 centimeters
  • Head: Small, flat head, pointed snout, eyes with round pupils, smooth scales
  • Characteristics: Basic color brown to grey, conspicuous dark spot on the back of the neck, dark stripes on the cheeks
  • Mating: May, viviparous
  • Offspring: August, 10 to 15 young
  • Occurrence: southern Germany
  • Habitat: Southern slopes with dry, sunny places on stone slabs
  • Food: lizards, mice

Notice: The smooth snake is often confused with the adder. However, the little snake is completely non-venomous.

Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata)

The dice snakes native to Germany are water snakes. Due to the increasing pollution of the water bodies, this species is threatened with extinction.

dice snake
  • Length: 70 to 90 centimeters
  • Head: narrower, more elongated head, eyes with round pupils, nostrils directed upwards
  • Characteristics: Ground color grey-brown, distinct cube pattern on top, V-shaped spot on nape
  • Mating: April to June, 5 to 25 eggs
  • Offspring: July to August
  • Occurrence: a few specimens on the Moselle, Lahn and Nahe
  • Habitat: Banks of flowing waters rich in fish
  • Food: fish

frequently asked Questions

What to do if you are bitten by a poisonous snake

If a person is bitten by a poisonous snake like the asp viper, it is important to remain calm. Disinfect the bite wound. Create a tourniquet. Take the person to the doctor. The bitten person should be driven or carried, only allowed to walk in an emergency. The wound must not be sucked out or cut open.

How do you behave when encountering a snake?

If you meet a snake in the forest or in the garden, keep calm. In no case do not try to catch the snake. This is strictly forbidden and not without danger for the poisonous adders and asp vipers.

How can you support the preservation of native snakes?

Avoid chemicals in your garden. Leave some piles of leaves and twigs so snakes can find shelter. If you spot a snake in the garden, be happy about it. Snakes can only be found in habitats with a good ecological structure.

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