Look what we saw today at Wiggly Wigglers!

We were very pleased to welcome this guest today. It’s a Grass Snake (Natrix helvetica) and it’s a good sign of a healthy thriving garden eco-system. These non-venomous reptiles are great to see and also offer numerous benefits that contribute to the overall health of your garden.
Habitat and Behaviour
Grass snakes prefer habitats close to water bodies such as ponds, lakes, and streams, but they can also be found in woodlands, meadows, and gardens. They are really good swimmers and are often seen basking in sunny spots during warm weather. Grass snakes are generally shy and non-aggressive towards humans. If threatened, they may hiss or play dead, releasing a foul-smelling substance from their cloaca to deter predators.
Grass snakes are active from late March to October. They hibernate during the colder months, often in compost heaps, log piles, or underground burrows. In late spring, females lay eggs in warm, moist locations such as compost heaps, which provide the necessary heat for incubation. The eggs hatch after about 10 weeks, and the young snakes are immediately independent.
Conservation Status
In the UK, grass snakes are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it illegal to kill, injure, or sell them. Despite this protection, grass snakes face threats from habitat loss, predators and road mortality. Gardeners can play a crucial role in their conservation by creating snake-friendly environments with log piles, compost heaps, and undisturbed grassy areas.
Encouraging Grass Snakes in Your Garden
To attract grass snakes to your garden, consider the following tips:
  1. Create Water Features: Ponds or small water bodies can attract amphibians, which in turn attract grass snakes.
  2. Provide Shelter: Log piles, rockeries, and compost heaps offer safe hiding and hibernation spots.
  3. Avoid Pesticides: Reducing or eliminating pesticide use helps maintain a healthy prey population for grass snakes.
  4. Maintain Vegetation: Allow some areas of your garden to grow wild to provide cover and hunting grounds for snakes.
Grass snakes are a boon to gardeners, providing natural pest control, contributing to biodiversity, and offering educational opportunities. By understanding their habits and creating a welcoming environment, gardeners can enjoy the benefits these fascinating reptiles bring to their green spaces. Encouraging really does help maintain a balanced ecosystem but also supports the conservation of this protected species in the UK.

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