Grass snake in the garden - how to react correctly

Grass snake in the garden - how to react correctly

On land and in water - grass snakes loves garden ponds

Formal, strictly ordered and pesticide-laden gardens are disgusted by grass snakes. The shy snake is picky and prefers to grace natural gardens with a pond. As a semi-aquatic creature, the adder is not only native on land, but also an excellent swimmer. Frogs, newts and unfortunately also fish are on their menu. Therefore, the European water snake species is not a welcome guest, even though your visit signals that you as a gardener have done everything right.

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Non-toxic and shy - characteristic features at a glance

Grass snakes can either be spotted sunbathing in the garden or they swim elegantly through the pond in search of their next meal. They like to hide in the compost heap to set up their kindergarten there. The snake species can be clearly identified by the following characteristics:

  • Slim body shape with a length of 75 cm (males) to 150 cm (females)
  • Unmistakable hallmarks: 2 crescent-shaped, yellow nape patches
  • Body colors: olive green, olive gray, brownish to greenish
  • Upper side: small, black spots in 4 to 6 rows

Between March and May there is a grass snake wedding, so that by this time 20 to 30 pencil-sized young snakes can frolic in your garden and pond.

Hunting prohibited - grass snakes are strictly protected

Grass snakes are critically endangered as their habitats are shrinking dramatically. Therefore, the good-natured snakes have been subject to the strict protection of the Federal Nature Conservation Act for several years. It is illegal to disturb, catch or even kill grass snakes. However, a firm stomp is enough to drive the snakes away from being seen again.

Just take it easy - tips for the right behavior

If you come across the grass snake in your garden, don't panic. Please leave an escape route open for the shy animal, because it will quickly run away. If the adder sees no possibility of escape, it defends itself with pseudo attacks. Even though it hits with its head, the mouth with the pointed teeth remains closed.

Please do not touch the snake, because then it emits a secretion that gives off an infernal stench. In their distress, the harried grass snake could then bite. A bite is not poisonous, though. However, the needle-sharp teeth can cause painful injuries.


Can't you see the characteristics described on a snake in your garden? Then it is not a grass snake, but the very rare smooth snake. These snakes are more inconspicuous and smaller than grass snakes and cannot swim. Since they hunt mice and other pests, the non-toxic smooth snakes also make a valuable contribution to the ecological balance.