"Hissing Sid's Supper of Super-sized Goldfish"
(The Daily Mail, 30 August 2007)
GRASS SNAKE (WATER SNAKE): Being Versatile
Also known as “Water Snake”, Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) is at home both on the land and in the water. This strong swimmer can be seen swimming across a pond in pursuit of a tasty Frog. People often encounter Her in abandoned gravel pits stocked with fish. In fact, one Grass Snake was even found swimming in the Bay of Biscay, unharmed by the salt water.
Grass Snake has multiple ways to defend Herself. When threatened, She will inflate her body and hiss. Resembling the European Adder, who is venomous, Grass Snake looks frightening. (These two Snakes often occur in the same areas.) The intruder is tricked into thinking that She is ready to strike.
If that method does not work, Grass Snake will emit a found-smelling liquid from the glands at the base of her tail. This smell will make it unpleasant for anyone to be near Her. This smell also indicates that She is not good to eat. The smell is disgusting enough to deter humans.
Her most effective ploy is to play dead. With her head flopped to one side, Grass Snake lets her tongue hang out. She rolls on her back and goes limp. This usually discourages the most persistent intruder. Afterwards, Grass Snake will flee.
Being versatile is the lesson that Grass Snake teaches. Not only does She thrive in water, She also lives in the Alps and the Arctic Circle, where it is cold. In addition, Grass Snake has many ways to elude intruders. Her versatile ways helps Her to cope with life’s challenges.
1. Grass Snake belongs to the Natricinae group of the Colubridae (typical harmless and back-fanged snakes). The Natricinae, semi-aquatic snakes, also includes the North American garter snake.