National Trust Purbeck Wildlife

Snakes Awake!

Leave a comment

Smooth snake

Smooth snake

Snakes are on the move again after their winter shutdown and, with great stealth and a bit of luck, it’s possible to see all three native British species on National Trust land in Purbeck.
Look for adders in the heathland or the edges of open woodland. Interestingly, they have the widest global distribution of all terrestrial snakes and are the only species to occur within the Arctic Circle.
Grass snakes are sometimes known as water snakes because they are good swimmers and their preferred food is amphibians and fish. Their Latin name, Natrix, means swimmer or water lover. Look for them around the margins of Little Sea.
Smooth snakes are the biggest challenge because they are a very secretive heathland specialist preferring areas of deep mature heather on south facing slopes. Most species of snake have a keel on their scales, a raised ridge like the midrib on a leaf, but smooth snakes are extra-smooth because their scales lack this feature. Their Latin name, Coronella, means ‘small crown’, referring to the dark, heart-shaped mark on the top of the head.

Advertisements

Author: Kevin Rideout

National Trust Visitor Experience Officer based at Studland

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s