Identifying Snakes In England: Are They Dangerous For People And Pets?

Joan Agie
Feb 29, 2024 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Nov 18, 2021
Common eastern Garter snake
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.5 Min

Snakes have an elongated body and a tail.

These wild animals move by crawling on the ground. As one of the most dangerous creatures, these reptiles have venom which can injure and possibly kill someone.

Their entire body is covered by scales that overlap each other and is very smooth. They are ectothermic and amniote vertebrates. Snakes like anacondas are known to eat an entire prey in one gulp. This can happen because these animals have small heads with many joints thus enabling them to swallow food bigger than their body. Snakes are found in almost all countries except in the extreme cold regions of Antarctica.

These wild animals are mostly found in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Till now more or less 20 families of snakes have been discovered so far. Snakes can be of various sizes ranging from a few centimeters to a few feet like a python. These species are said to have evolved from aquatic lizards. The lizard is one of the oldest known reptiles. While many snakes have venom there are more who don't have venom. When they face the danger of threats these reptiles make a hissing sound attempting to strike the source of the disturbance. Snakes have been mentioned so far in various religious texts too and often are a part of Bible and Hindu mythology too.

In some cultures, they are worshipped while in other places these wild animals are seen as deadly creatures. The species of snake have certain characteristics. For example, the species of snake use their length and crawl in a zig-zag pattern which allows them to move. This zig-zag pattern also protects them from their predators. A snake eats everything from small mammals to full-grown deer. After reading about different grass snakes and smooth snakes native to Britain, also check out that can snakes hear and are corn snakes poisonous?

Are there poisonous snakes in England?

As mentioned before, snakes are creatures that are found almost in almost every part of the world except in extremely cold climatic conditions. There are various snake species that are native to Britain.

During the summer, the number of reports of snake bites increases as these creatures come out of their winter sleep. In England, there are mostly four species of snakes that are widely found amongst which there are non-poisonous and their bites are not deadly while the fourth species, the native snake of Britain called Vipera Berus is quite dangerous and is venomous.

Even though nowadays people don't generally die from the bite of a snake, you might develop some severe symptoms. The snakes inhabiting England are mostly shy creatures and these wild animals tend to crawl away or flee when they see humans. Snakes like adders can be found in woodland and often explorers are the ones who come in contact with them. They hide under various metallic objects that conduct heat in order to keep their body warm so that they can stay active.

Adders are called European Vipers and are native to Britain. They have a zigzag pattern on their back and have either an X or a V mark on their head. Males are light gray or silver in color with a black zig-zag pattern on the back whereas females are light brown in color with a dark-brown zig-zag pattern on the back. This helps to even differentiate between the males and the females. It takes the males and the females to mate to produce an egg to produce the young one. One of the common snake species found in the UK is the grass snake (Natrix natrix).

The grass snake (Natrix natrix) is a type of nonvenomous snake species. They are dark brown or grey and have a certain dark pattern on them. Another species of snake found is the legless lizard. For example, the slow worm named lizards. The slow worm is not a snake, but rather the slow worm belongs to the family of lizards. The slow worm is a small genus (Anguis) of snake-like legless lizards in the family Anguidae. Anguidae refers to a large and diverse family of the lizard native to the Northern Hemisphere. Even this lizard-like species of snake are brown and have a certain dark grey pattern on its body.

What are common snakes in England?

England has a few varieties of snakes some of which are deadly while others are harmless. A snake bite is sometimes fatal depending upon the snake which has bitten you but mostly snake bites are curable and don't lead to death.

There are three species of snakes that are native to England. These are:

Adder snake: Also known as Vipera Berus, they are spread all throughout the English subcontinent. However, they are decreasing and are the only species that are venomous and deadly. Adder snakes have a zigzag pattern all over the surface of their body. They have red eyes with a vertical pupil and are extremely venomous. They have a Z or X on their head.

Grass snake: These snakes come in olive green body color. They are characterized by large eyes with round pupils. They can grow to almost a meter long. They can be identified by the presence of a collar behind the heads. They lay eggs to give birth to young ones. These snakes are mostly referred to as garden snakes and can be found in gardens and used the compost in gardens to lay eggs. These snakes have leathery eggs.

Smooth snakes: These snakes are the most common snakes in England. They are mostly found in heathland habitats. While the other snakes found in England are quite large smooth snakes, on the other hand, are quite small and can grow for about 22 in (55.88 cm). You can identify them by their grayish-brown color, having stripes on their face, a pattern that looks like a heart on their head accompanied with spots and bars on the surface of their body.

What part of the UK has snakes?

While snakes are common in almost all parts of the world, normally they choose warm places to live and nest.

In the UK snakes are found in forests, in woodlands and are often discovered by explorers. They are also found in sandy heathlands in sand dunes of Surrey, Dorset, and Hampshire. While during winters they hibernate but in summers from April to October they can be found creeping and crawling around or laying eggs and mating.

Can a UK adder kill you?

Amongst all the native species of snakes found in the UK, an adder snake is quite deadly and is the only venomous species whose bite can affect a person.

Adders are mostly found to inhabit the countryside and therefore most people in the countryside get bitten by them. It's common to encounter them while walking on the soft grass and accidentally trespassing their habitat and stepping on them. While an adder snake is venomous but its bite is curable. It has been reported that in some cases it can cause a few reactions which might require hospitalization. However, these local effects can be treated easily provided they are treated immediately.

Green snake coiled around tree branch

Should we be scared of British snakes?

British snakes mostly inhabit grasslands and are common in the countryside. They are often discovered by explorers in woodlands.

It is to be noted that there are mostly four species of snakes found in England. Amongst them, three are non-poisonous and are not deadly with the exception of the only native species of England, an adder snake whose bite can cause serious reactions and requires immediate attention. Therefore, one must be careful of British snakes and should not take their bites lightly.

How to identify an adder?

Snakes are widespread in England and are widespread in most countryside regions of England. While snakes in the UK are not that dangerous and most of them are non-poisonous but snakes like adders are quite harmful.

An adder snake can be identified by the presence of dark zig-zag patterns all over its body. They have a Z or X mark on their head and have red eyes and vertical pupils. These snakes inhabit the grasslands of England and their bites if left untreated can be fatal.

Every year, if you look around London, or even all over the British Kingdom, you tend to find some rare distinctive snakes that cannot be mistaken for something else. One of the reasons that they cannot be mistaken and are so rare and distinctive is the color of their skin. Snakes of various colors can be found in nature and heathland, like yellow or green color.

Heathland is the distinctive name given to wide-open landscapes dominated by low-growing shrubs. The yellow or green colored snakes are Britain's very rare to be seen but they can be found all around Britain's wildlife and woodland. Sand-like colored snakes are quite commonly found in the garden.

How to identify the UK snake species?

While snakes in the UK are widespread over almost all parts of England and therefore they can be identified by their appearance.

Snakes have spots all over their body and different snakes are characterized by the presence of different spots of different colors. While an adder snake has zig-zag patterns on the other hand a grass snack can be identified by the presence of a collar behind their heads. Similarly, the smooth snake has stripes on their faces and spots on their body. Thus, by studying the general appearance closely the snakes can be identified easily.

Avoiding Snakes

Snakes are deadly creatures and are mostly found in warm moist places. Snakes like garden snakes are found in your gardens hiding in heaths or underneath long grasses. So, to avoid them, trim grasses regularly and keep gardens clean.

Also, snakes normally lay eggs on compost so it's necessary to not store things in your garden in order to prevent snake disturbance. Also, snakes nest in metallic objects that conduct heat so before you play along with some of those be cautious and careful. Look on the ground while walking in woodlands. Make sure to keep an anti-venom in hand when the need arises.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for snakes in England then why not take a look at what eats snakes, or adder facts.

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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