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Grass Snake

Grass Snake
Photo Information
Copyright: NICHOLAS GLEN (nglen) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-06-14
Categories: Reptiles
Camera: Canon 40D, Sigma EF 180mm F3.5L Macro USM
Exposure: f/7.1, 1/250 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2009-06-18 10:59
Viewed: 5150
Points: 58
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
At the nature reserve there is a tree which has fallen into the lake it has been like this for a few years. It must still have its roots because it still grows leaves. I was walking along the path when i saw this Grass Snake asleep on the tree trunk . The green is a leaf growing. This was taken about 5 meters away with my macro lens as this was the only one i had with me.

Grass snakes are one of the few animals that play dead as a defence against predators.

There are nine subspecies of grass snake: N.n.helvetica is the largest, and is the subspecies that occurs in Britain.

Length: 70-120 cm. Females are larger than the males, and can occasionally reach 200cm in length.

Physical description
Grass snakes are typically grey-green in colour, often with black spots and a yellow/cream/orange collar. Their colour varies according to distribution, and completely black or partial albino individuals sometimes occur. Black lines run down from their large golden eyes to their top lips. Their underside is usually white or pale yellow with a checkering of blue-black and white markings. Their forked tongues are blue-black.

Grass snakes are distributed over much of Europe except for the far north, parts of North Africa and central Asia. Although absent from Scotland and Ireland, they are widespread in England and Wales, but have become increasingly scarce in recent years.

They prefer damp habitats, including river banks, ponds and ditches, but they also inhabit hedgerows, woodland margins, farmland and meadows.

Grass snakes feed on tadpoles, frogs and toads, as well as fish, newts, and occasionally mice and small birds. Most hunting is done underwater, and prey is typically swallowed alive.

Grass snakes are active during the day and spend time basking in the sun to warm up. They hibernate from October to March, often communally in old rabbit burrows, wall crevices, in piles of manure or under tree roots. They are good swimmers - their generic name means water snake. They swim with their heads out of the water, but if disturbed, grass snakes will dive underneath and hide amongst water weeds. They can remain underwater for up to an hour. When threatened, grass snakes puff up their bodies and hiss loudly in an attempt to frighten the predator away. If contact is made, they emit a foul-smelling liquid from their anal glands (a mixture of asafoetida and faecal matter). If this fails to put off an attacker, they roll over on to their backs and play dead. They remain very still with their mouth open and their tongue hanging out for up to 15 minutes, or until the attacker loses interest. Since many carnivores will eat carrion, this seems like a strange method of defence, but it seems to work.

Grass snakes mate in April-May. The male follows the female about until they twist the lower parts of their bodies together and copulate. The female lays 8-40 eggs, depending on her size, in July-August. A clutch usually contains about 10 eggs held together by mucous, secreted by the glands of the oviduct, which then dries to hold the eggs together. Female grass snakes choose a warm site to lay their eggs, such as a compost heap or under rotting logs, and will often use the same egg-laying sites as other females. A communal site may contain over a thousand eggs. The females stay near the nest site for a few days. The young grass snakes have an egg tooth to help them hatch out of the leathery eggs in late August-September.

Conservation status
Grass snakes are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 from being killed, injured or sold. The Sardinian subspecies N.n. cetti is classified as Critically Endangered by the 2000 IUCN Red List.

Although grass snakes produce a venomous secretion that is toxic to small animals, they are harmless to humans.

siggi, eqshannon, xTauruSx, haraprasan, caspian, oldferret, maurydv, Argus, jconceicao, boreocypriensis, goldyrs, Alex99, Dis. Ac., KOMSIS, Noisette, jaycee, Royaldevon, anel, amanengone has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2009-06-18 11:07]

Hello Nicholas,
This is a fabulous image of this snake. The quality of the image is superb .Great composition with lovely BG.I really like the detail of the skin and that eye contact.
Best regards Siggi

Bravo Nick
netteté et précision sont vraiment bien.
Merci pour ce portrait

When a snake is lying it the sun, it already looks dead..I wonder how it could look any "deader":-) Most snakes look menacing to me and this one is no exception, so he will not have to worry about me being his predator...althogh I did shoot a very small grouse with a .22 once..

Hello Nicholas, wonderful shot of a beauty from a frontal point of view. Wonderful composition.
TFS and greetings, Deniz

Hi Nick,
A nice capture of this beautiful grass snake. Sharp details and a lovely composition. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Very cool encounter, wish I had that luck.

good shot, good focus

Hi Nicholas,

Very successful with a grass snake pictures we've shared. Also not very satisfying in terms of information. Meanwhile, the grass snake out of the trees have been able to learn (: Thank you very much for the sharing of information and satisfying.

Regards. Mehmet

  • Great 
  • demeve Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 586 W: 12 N: 1682] (6165)
  • [2009-06-18 12:25]

Hello Nick,
Very nice shot, this snake appears to be in strike position.
Very well composed and framed.. Well done


Hi Nick

A very good capture, a good spot. Well focused and a good dof shows all the snake. Good colours, and this is a dark coloured grass-snake. Well done Nick and thanks for showing and sharing.

Regards Bill

Hello Nick,
a great view of the Grass Snake, no easy to take a picture of this Natrix with a pecfect focus from the head to the tail, you have captured a wonderful posture with outstanding texture of the skin, splendid colours, very nice composition.
Best regards

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2009-06-18 13:10]

Hello Nick,
This grass snake was nicely curled ready for you to photograph him and it turned out pretty well despite you having to use a macro lens on him. Great position on the fallen tree trunk and an opportunity well taken.
Thanks and best wishes,

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2009-06-18 14:44]

Hi Nick,
An good shot of this Grass Snake!
It must have been very exciting to see :-)
Very good composition.
Great pose.
Superb POV.

Well done,


Hello Nhicolas,

Excellent capture of this interesting snake.
Lighting and composition are fantastic.
Good notes.

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2009-06-18 16:02]

Hi Nico,unusual animal in your gallery.you was brave to take this pic..ehehe..and you must be proud,it's a very interesting specie in a top quality shot.My best compliments,have a nice day,LUCIANO

Hi Nick, a stunningly awesome close-up of this grass beauty from frontal POV with neat details and fine composition.
TFS and cheers,

Ciao Nick, great capture of splendid snake, wonderful sharpness and superb details, very well done, ciao Silvio

An awesome shot of this snake!
Your chosen POV is very nice!
Superb timing, too!

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2009-06-18 19:28]

Hi Nick.
Yes, this species is well known for me. In childhood we even brought them home. Excellent shot. I like great DOF and superb details of all shake and wonderful surrounding. :Lights and colours are very natural and pleasant. Well done. My kind regards and TFS.

Hi Nick,

So with your macro and upon 5 mtr. away an good sharp shot.
This are an real crop of the picture?
Good details and beautiful pose of the snake.


  • Great 
  • zetu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 967 W: 26 N: 3888] (16941)
  • [2009-06-19 2:22]

Hello Nicholas
good work with this snake, good details, perfect focus and natural colors.

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2009-06-19 8:42]

Hello Nick,
Excellent photo of this Grass Snake, taken from a perfect frontal POV. Beautiful natural colours and very sharp. Great DOF and composition.

  • Great 
  • Marx44 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 172 W: 97 N: 926] (3891)
  • [2009-06-19 10:23]

Very good photo of the snake. Perfect composition, POV, sharpness and colors too.

  • Great 
  • KOMSIS Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 820 W: 0 N: 2419] (10674)
  • [2009-06-19 10:53]

Hi Nick,
Do you feel lucky ...
A wonderful of Grass Snake with glorious lighting and accurate sharpnes.
Best regards,

Hello Nicholas
Excellent shot of this Grass Snake , i like the way where it is coiled up on this tree
wonderful details on the scales and great natural colors
Have a great WE

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2009-06-19 17:16]

Hi Nick,

Unusual to see you posting a picture of a snake. Great shot of this Grass Snake in the coiled position. You captured his face and skin perfectly with wonderful colors and excellent details.


Hello Nick,

What a surprise and what a shot!
I have only seen a wild grass snake once in my entire life and that was when I was a teenager!
This is a fine shot showing excellent colours and textures of the snake.
How good that it is looking towards the camera.

Kind regards,
Bev :-)

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2009-06-20 4:27]

Hello Nicholas,
Nice surprise to see from you a snake and a harmless one. I almost have the feeling that it looks afraid. Beautifully curved pose of the snake which you caught very well with your macro-lens. To me it happens often that just when I have only the macro-lens there is a bigger animal in view. But it works anyway too :-)
Thanks and I wish you a nice weekend

Hi Nicholas,
Nice composition well defined and sharp image.Great shot and TFS.

Hello Nicholas.

Thank you for that picture of this snake. This is a lovely terrific picture.

The composition of the picture is interesting. We see very well a snake on a defensive attitude ready to escape or to attack you.
The sharpness is very good all along the body of the snake.
The depth of Field is correct, giving us many details. The colors and the contrast are realistics.

Fascinating picture of a snake, full of life and movement.

Thank you for that capture.

Very useful comments.

Hope to see another time on treknature.

All the best.


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