Skip navigation
19323 Views 22 Replies Last post: Aug 24, 2013 10:15 PM by joshscales RSS
Currently Being Moderated

Apr 7, 2011 1:32 PM

Can anyone identify this snake?

IMG00008-20110406-1308.jpg

A colleague and I were walking in Regent's park past the Zoo when he stopped us stepping on this snake. It was about 1 metre long and had a smallish head. By the time I thought to take a picture it had almost escaped! It had been hiding in a blocked drain and was making its way out when we saw it. It moved quite slowly (despite the warm day).

Attachments:
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 7, 2011 1:40 PM (in response to Kresh)
    Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

    Hi,

    I think it's probably a grass snake, which can be olive green to brown. I don't suppose you remember if it had a ring of yellow just below the head, as this is one of the best ways to identify a grass snake? Grass snakes, adders and smooth snakes are the only British snakes and grass snake seems most likely (and more likely than a zoo escapee!)

    If you email me on ias2@nhm.ac.uk, I've got some nice British reptile and amphibian leaflets I can send you.

    Luanne

    • Report Abuse
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 7, 2011 1:53 PM (in response to Kresh)
    Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

    Hi,

    Yes, the colouring on grass snakes is very variable, from green to brown, and the black marks also very from very clear to none at all with a uniform colour.

    I love snakes but just like you, all the people I know who grew up in parts of the world with dangerous snakes also avoid them! Makes sense.

    Luanne

    • Report Abuse
    • Hello,

      I don't know if this helps, but I just want to support Luanne's ID. I have personally handled Grass Snakes, Adders, and Smooth Snakes in Romania, and your photo looks to me exactly like a Grass Snake (Natrix natrix). Adders look very different, and Smooth Snakes kind of mimic Adders, and are also distributed in very few places in England, not in London.

      Luanne explained very well the colour variation of Grass Snakes. You can see in this old ID guide illustration what they can look like.

      In Eastern Europe, most Grass Snakes have bright yellow marks on their head. I understand that here in England they are whitish or even missing.

      Everywhere Grass Snakes are harmless; they don't even try to bite whatever you do to them, they just feign an attack to scare you, or play dead in the hope you will let them go. So never worry about these snakes when you see them again!

      Regards,

      Florin

      • Report Abuse
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 28, 2011 3:51 PM (in response to Kresh)
    Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

    hey guys, the "snake" seems to have very smooth and shiny scales and it also appears to be very long and slender and was described as having a small head,  i feel that this may not be a snake at all but rather a Slow Worm. Is 1 metre too long for a slow worm though?

    • Report Abuse
    • Currently Being Moderated
      Jul 29, 2011 11:00 AM (in response to Eluveitie)
      Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

      Hi Eluveitie,

       

      Yes, 1m is too long for a slow worm.  Slow worms are usually less than 50cm long, whereas grass snakes are usually around 120cm, but can grow up to 200cm.

       

      I agree with Florin and Luanne, I'd be very surprised if this wasn't a grass snake!

       

      Hannah

      (NHM ID Team)

      • Report Abuse
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 23, 2011 8:55 PM (in response to Kresh)
    Re: Can anyone identify this snake?
    I know I've come to this very late... but I think this is an Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus). There's an established colony of this European species in Regent's Park. They are much smoother than grass snakes, and the pictures I've seen of specimens from Regent's Park show a brown colour very similar to this photo.
    • Report Abuse
    • Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 24, 2011 8:05 PM (in response to Beany)
      Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

      Hello Beany,

      Thanks for taking part in this discussion. I can see your point, and I agree that given that the Aesculapian Snake lives in the area, grows to a similar size, and looks a bit like a Grass Snake, it could have been one.

      Despite this, I still think it was rather a Grass Snake. Take a look at the contrast between the dorsal scales and the ventral scales. The contrast is greater in Grass Snakes, and the limit between these areas is clear. In the Aesculapian Snake, the contrast is smaller and the limit is gradual, no so neat as in the Grass Snake. This snake also shows ventral scales delimited by black zones, which are not seen in the Aesculapian Snake. Please compare these images of the Aesculapian Snake with this photo of a Grass Snake to see what I mean. The fourth photo on this page as well.

      Both species vary in colour patterns, but Aesculapian Snakes seem to always have two small white marks at the base of some dorsal scales, which I don't see in this photo.

      There are plenty of clear photos out there to google for and compare, but the main thing for me is that this photo has the jizz of the Grass Snake, of which I have handled many specimens in the past.

      I hope this helps.

      Regards,

      Florin

      • Report Abuse
      • Currently Being Moderated
        Oct 24, 2011 11:42 PM (in response to Florin - Museum ID team)
        Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

        How common are Grass Snakes in the Regents Park Canal compared with Aesculapian Snakes? Do populations of both live beside each other?

        Lewis

        • Report Abuse
      • Currently Being Moderated
        Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

        I'd still argue that it's more like an Aesculapian snake. It's very similar to this photo of another individual from Regent's Park: http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/forum/uploads/will/2007-09-01_122050_aesculapian_snake_2.JPG

        (from a discussion on the Regent's Park introduction, which has lots of other good photos: http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/forum/the-camden-creature_topic2068_page1.html )

         

        It's very rare to see grass snakes in the UK without black bars on their sides, and black marks on their backs. They're also rather square in cross-section, and this animal is very rounded, much more like the Aesculapian snake. This snake is also rather more slender than most grass snakes.

         

        The shininess, though, is still the main reason I think it's an Aesculapian, and not an unusually coloured grass snake- grass snakes are just never that shiny, even when freshly shed- their keeled scales give them much more of a matt appearance.

        • Report Abuse
        • Currently Being Moderated
          Oct 25, 2011 8:22 PM (in response to Beany)
          Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

          Dear all,

          I hope I'm not annoying you with my stubbornness. It’s just that I’m used to go wherever the evidence takes me, and in this case it seems to me that the snake was rather Natrix than Zamenis.

          Please go back to the images in the ID guide to see what I meant about the contrast between back and belly. Here is the illustration for Natrix, and here is the one for Zamenis.

          Now, compare this with Beany’s example. Brownish-grey back and yellowish brown belly, without distinct demarcation between ventral and dorsal scales.

          All the snakes on Herpetofauna forum are the same.

          Compare with some Natrix photos here (I made the crops from photos on the Internet).

          1240125159RChKbgb.jpgN_natrix_Scania_Sweden_0005_LB1.jpg110146.jpg

          And here are some of the best examples I could find of Zamenis.

          Zamenis_longissimus_Anif.jpgIMG_4764.jpg_20092820823_IMG_4764.jpg17.5.08 099 Zamenis longissimus.jpg

          Finally, compare with the snake in question.

          IMG00008-20110406-1308.jpgIMG00008-20110406-13082.jpg

          It's not only the contrast between white belly and grey back, but also the 'crenelated' aspect given by black spaces between white scales. Is there one photo of a known Zamenis with the pattern like the one in the photo? The best I could find so far (greatest contrast) has plenty of those small white marks on the back, not present on ‘our’ snake.

          Best wishes,

          Florin

          • Report Abuse
          • Currently Being Moderated
            Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

            I can see what you're saying about the line along the belly, and the white spots, but I think most of your examples are from the front half of the animal. Aesculapian snakes' markings are somewhat different on the rear half of the body, with fewer (or absent) white spots, and a clearer demarcation of colouration between body and belly scales. If you look at this crop from the image I linked to earlier,

            zamenis_crop.JPG

            from the rear portion of a Regent's park Aesculapian snake, I think it looks strikingly similar to your enlarged crops from the original photo (which is unfortunately only the rear half, maybe two thirds of the animal).

             

             


            • Report Abuse
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 27, 2011 5:00 PM (in response to Kresh)
    Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

    Hi

     

    I've just found this thread online - apologies for arriving late!  The snake is an Aesculapian snake, Zamenis longissimus.  There are no populations of grass snake near to Regent's Park, the nearest being on Hampstead Heath, a few miles away.  I've been studying the Aesculapians for four years, and have ID'd around 30 animals, believed descended from an escape/release almost twenty years ago.  The links already provided to the 'rauk' forum above will give you a more detailed picture.  You were lucky to see one in the open, as they're usually found (if at all) in dense undergrowth or in bushes (as per the pair in the photo below).  I'm hoping to do a formal study with agreement from Natural England and ZSL next year, and if anyone has any further sightings I'd be really grateful to receive the details at 'lehartrust@hotmail.com' - thanks!

     

    Will

     

    Will Atkins

    Chair of Trustees

    London Essex and Hertfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Trust


    charity number 1089466

    www.lehart.org

     

    PS If you had been able to get a picture of the head, it might have been possible to ID the individual animal, as they all have different patterns of scales on the head - apart from that, they all look pretty much the same in colour, being brownish on top and cream on the underside.

    couple compressed.jpg

    • Report Abuse
    • Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 28, 2011 8:58 PM (in response to will atkins)
      Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

      grass snacke

      • Report Abuse
      • Currently Being Moderated
        Oct 28, 2011 11:18 PM (in response to imfedup)
        Re: Can anyone identify this snake?
        It's not a Grass Snacke for pitys sake, have you read the thread?
        • Report Abuse
        • Currently Being Moderated
          Aug 24, 2013 10:15 PM (in response to Lewis)
          Re: Can anyone identify this snake?

          haha personally i dont "snacke" on grass at all but back to the snake yep I'd be inclined to go with the aesculapian snake as i recognised instantly this is not a grass snake i see them frequently around where i live and

           

          it was too shiny indicating scales too smooth as the grass snakes are very clearly keeled whereas the aesculpian's are much smoother

           

          too dark though i do know they can be quite dark i've never seen one that dark... suppose living in the city could cause that as im from the countryside in devon

           

          missing some pattern

           

          and marginally too thin for its apparent length though that could be caused by being underfed, unlikely with all the rodents in london though

           

           

          • Report Abuse

More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked by (0)

What the symbols mean

  • "correct" answer available
  • "helpful" answer