Grass Snake

Natrix natrix

Last updated: March 19, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit iStock.com/Wildnerdpix

Use acute hearing to hunt

Grass Snake Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Family
Colubridae
Genus
Natrix
Scientific Name
Natrix natrix

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.


Grass Snake Facts

Prey
Various amphibianous creatures
Main Prey
Toads, frogs, other amphibians
Name Of Young
Hatchling
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
Use acute hearing to hunt
Biggest Threat
Loss of habitat and pollution impact on prey
Other Name(s)
Garter snake, water snake, ringed snake
Habitat
Areas near bodies of waters
Predators
Hawks, crows, bears, bullfrogs, snapping turtles, foxes, squirrels and raccoons
Diet
Omnivore
Type
Smooth
Common Name
Garter snake
Special Features
Various patterns, colors, markings
Number Of Species
26
Location
Everywhere

Grass Snake Physical Characteristics

Color
  • White
Lifespan
15 to 25 years
Length
2 to 4 feet

This post may contain affiliate links to our partners like Chewy, Amazon, and others. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to educate about the world's species..

View all of the Grass Snake images!



The common snake is of the non-poisonous variety. It has many names: common snake, ringed snake, common garter snake, garter snake and water snake. This reptile is part of the water snake family (Nerodia).

The common grass snakes’ colors are gray or green with a white or yellow neck collar. They have identification marks of interlinked yellow and black in the neck, forming a ring or band. The face is a mask of slashes and black bars.

Fond of wet habitats, the common snake lurks in gardens and dry grasslands in locations near bodies of water. During warm months, the creature will lie in the sun near ponds and lakes, and sometimes enjoy a nice swim.

25,899 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

Other facts include:

  • The common snake preys on fish, amphibians, birds and small mammals for its diet.
  • The reptiles hibernate between October and April.
  • When threatened, they release a smelly, sticky musk.
  • The predators have a lifespan of 10 years.

4 Amazing Common Snake Facts

Here are four facts about the reptile that is interesting, amazing and informative.

  • Grass snakes are predators, swallowing toads, frogs and other amphibians alive, often in a single swallow for their diet.
  • The reptiles seem to enjoy the day, often found lying in the sun.
  • Threatened snakes have a number of defensive strategies that include releasing horrible odors.
  • During its annual molting, the reptile is extremely fragile and becomes aggressive.

Where to Find Common Grass Snakes

The grass snake inhabits so much of western Asia and Europe (where three species of the reptile almost bombard the United Kingdom). So fruitful are the animals, they’re considered common, hence the name.



The creatures prefer locations near rivers, ponds, lakes and other wetland habitats. They’re exceptional swimmers and spend time leisurely enjoying the waters and sun around their ecosystems.

Types of Grass Snakes

“Gartner snake” is a term used to define any species in the Thamnophis genus. Grass snakes are (wait for it!) common in many parts of the world. Identification traits include slender, small bodies and a dorsal stripe.

The most common species include the following trio.

Eastern Garter Snake

Found in Ontario and the eastern regions of the Mississippi River.

Red-sided Garter Snake

The reptiles keep habitats in central Canada, Nebraska, Missouri and the Dakotas.

Valley Garter Snake

The valley snake calls home northern California and British Columbia.

Common Grass Snake Scientific Name

The common grass snake is classified Natrix natrix. Also known as a water snake or ringed snake, among many monikers, it’s a non-venomous Eurasian colubrid reptile.

Among the various family subspecies are:

Natrix natrix natrix
Natrix natrix algirus
Natrix natrix persa
Natrix natrix fusca
Natrix natrix astreptophora
Natrix natrix cypriaca
Natrix natrix gotlandica
Natrix natrix calabra
Natrix natrix schweizeri
Natrix natrix scutata

8 Different types of Grass Snakes

Here are eight types of common garter snakes.

The common grass snake lives in a broad range of habitats across the globe, the entire family has 26 species. Here is a shortlist of some of them.

Blue-striped Grass Snake

The species has striking blue identification markings. The colors are a typical dark gray base associated with stripes that act as highlighters.

Checkered Garter Snake

Found in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Mexico and New Mexico, the snake’s checkboard pattern is unique to the species.

Albino Garter Snake

The identification marker here is a genetic morph of colors that lightens the skin. This is a rare garter species that is unlikely to live in a garden or yard.

Black-necked Garter Snake

There are the eastern and western subspecies of the black-necked garter. Patterns of colors vary but all tend to have yellow blotches.

Western Terrestrial Grass Snake

The Western Terrestial has subspecies with varying appearances, ranges and common names. Colors are black to gray with patterns of white, yellow, cream, blue or orange.

Plains Garter Snake

Found only in areas of New Mexico, the plains snake adapts to human-modified environments. Here, they take habitats in trash heaps, abandoned buildings and vacant lots where they can locate prey.

Short-headed Grass Snake

No surprise that distinct identification facts about this species is, well, their short head. They also have blunt snouts.

San Franciso Garter Snake

At the top of beautiful snakes lists, the San Fran grass snake is usually a solid red with an electric teal or blue underside.

Grass Snake Population & Conservation Status

The grass snake thrives in locations throughout the United Kingdom. You can also find them in other parts of the world, basking in the sun in open woodlands, grasslands and gardens. Pretty much any natural ecosystem.

Found mostly to the east and west of the Mississippi, you can also find a large range of habitats for these reptiles in Canada, Nebraska, Missouri and the Dakotas. Some species inhabit regions of Canada as well.

Conservationists do not see any threat of endangerment for the common grass snake. According to the IUCN Red List, the species is listed as being of “Least Concern.” But though the population’s stable, destruction of habitats and pollution pose a risk to the species’ amphibious diet.

How To Identify Common Grass Snakes: Appearance and Description

The common snake typically has green skin but also has colors of tan, olive, gray or black bases, usually with no less than one cream longitudinal stripe.

Their size is larger than most of the family. Grass snakes reach a length anywhere between 22 to 60 inches. Females grow to a size between 22 to 33.7 inches in length.

Water Snake Venom: How Dangerous Are They?

The grass snake is relatively harmless as it avoids conflict. In general, they pose no threat to other animals. But the creature’s bite can lead to severe illness and fatalities.

These snakes don’t tend to bite, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. Curious animals like dogs or cats have been on the wrong end of a grass snake’s teeth. It’s advised if this happens, you get the animal treated ASAP.

Common Grass Snake Behavior and Humans

Garter snakes are wild creatures but humans are known to keep them as pets. You’ll find them in pet stores for sale.

Garter snakes are safe enough animals and seemingly perfect for beginners and children. They’re solitary and do not need reptile companions to be happy. But the creatures don’t like a lot of handling.

Some experts believe keeping a wild snake as a pet is a bad idea. The critters may spread disease to captive populations.

In the wild, these snakes are nomads. They do not hold territories and instead prefer to search for prey. After a meal, they lay in the sun while the meal is digested. After, they turn back into predators.

View all 126 animals that start with G

About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.

Grass Snake FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Areas near bodies of waters

The snake has a slender, long body and smooth scales. The dorsal sides are of darker colors. The ventral parts of the body have lighter colors, typically yellow.

What Are the Colors of a Grass Snake?

While most are some shade of green, there are also tan, olive, black and other base colors.

Are Grass Snakes Poisonous?

No, they have no venom in their bite, so they’re not considered an imminent threat. But they are certainly capable of biting if frightened. There are instances of this snake biting animals. And they don’t like being handled. They may bite then as well.

How Do I Identify a Grass Snake?

Identification of the grass snake includes an interlinked yellow and black collar. It forms a ring or band below the head. The face is a mask of slashes and black bars.

Where Do Grass Snakes Live?

Water snakes have a fondness for wetland habitats. They’ll look for bodies of water, such as rivers, ponds and lakes. The snakes like open woodlands, gardens and grasslands, especially if they can find water.

What Do I Do if I Find a Grass Snake?

Facts are, harmless or not, many people aren’t comfortable with the idea of a snake slithering around. You can call local law enforcement, the fire department or animal control to remove the reptile.
Ultimately, the majority of encounters with garter snakes are incidental and result in no interaction. But if you come across one, leave the animal alone, especially if it’s not indoors.

What Is the Snake's Lifespan?

The garter snake has a lifespan of up to a decade or more.

What is a baby grass snake called?

The baby grass snake is called a snakelet, hatchling or neonates. Mothers leave the future baby eggs in rotting vegetation.

Sources
  1. , Available here: https://www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/reptiles/facts-about-grass-snakes/
  2. , Available here: https://www.everythingreptiles.com/types-of-garter-snakes/
  3. , Available here: https://birdwatchinghq.com/garter-snakes-in-new-mexico/
  4. , Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grass_snake
  5. , Available here: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/reptiles/grass-snake
  6. , Available here: https://www.reptileadvisor.com/are-garter-snakes-good-pets/
  7. , Available here: https://animals.net/grass-snake/#:~:text=Behavior%20of%20the%20Grass%20Snake,digested%2C%20they%20continue%20moving%20about.
  8. , Available here: http://surrey-arg.org.uk/SARGWEB.php?app=SpeciesData&Species=grass_snake
  9. , Available here: https://www.arc-trust.org/grass-snake#:~:text=Grass%20snakes%20are%20Britain's%20only,in%20the%20late%20summer%20months.
  10. , Available here: https://www.softschools.com/facts/animals/grass_snake_facts/549/#:~:text=Grass%20snakes%20are%20carnivores%20(meat,hearing%20when%20it%20searches%20food.
  11. (1970) useum%20of%20Zoology.

Newly Added Animals

A French Lop
French Lop

One of the largest rabbit breeds

A Kangaroo Mouse
Kangaroo Mouse

The Kangaroo Mouse is a tiny mouse that stands and hops around on its hind legs, much like a kangaroo.

A Sand Dollar
Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar skeletons make popular collection items for seashell collectors.

Most Recently Updated Animals

A Water Buffalo
Water Buffalo

Has been domesticated for thousands of years!

A Schneagle
Schneagle

This hybrid dog is a great companion and doesn’t do well being left alone but is suitable for apartments or houses with backyards!

A Raggle
Raggle

Raggles are known for their energy and curiosity.