Saturday, 16 June 2012

Grades and a Grass Snake.

Not technically any grades involved, they're not through until August. But I have just sat my AS levels, Which is my main excuse for not posting in over a month. The other is the weather. As soon as the final exam was over torrential rain and force 7 winds set in. So any form of snorkelling/scuba diving was definitely out the question.
   However the rain has it's advantages, persuading a large Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) to seek shelter under one of the many sheets of corrugated iron scattered around my pond. 
This particular individual was approximately 80cm long, so probably a female as males rarely exceed 70cm. The largest Grass Snake ever found in the UK was an impressive 1.8m (5.9ft).
   If you look closely at the rather blurry photo you can see that the scales covering the eyes of the snake are pale blue, A sign that the animal is close to shedding. And at the back of the head there is a  distinctive yellow collar and black false eyes, which are surprisingly convincing when the snake is partially submerged in water (Grass Snakes are amphibious and as well as small rodents, often hunt amphibians and quite large fish).
If you want to attract Grass snakes into your garden a positioning a sheet of scrap metal near a pond or compost heap (As the compost decomposes it heats up, Grass Snakes will hibernate here in winter and use it to incubate their eggs in summer). The metal sheet will heat up quickly in the morning providing the snake with an ideal basking site, It will also provide shelter to prey such as toads and voles.

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