This snake is distinguished from similar
species by its uniformly colored belly. General
body color varies between silvery-grey and a
gingery-brown, with a mottled black pattern
running the entire length of the body. At first
glance, smooth snakes can be confused with adders
because of this, but a smooth snake has a more
slender build. The eye has a round golden iris
and the head is brown with a black crown and eye
stripes The common name 'smooth snake' refers to
the scales, which lack the keel of other snakes.
Smooth snakes average 19-28 inches in length,
with females generally larger than males. Females
also have shorter tails and are usually uniform
silver grey with distinct spots. Males tend
towards browns and reds, the spotting is less
marked, and the throat and forepart of the belly
are often orange-red.
Smooth snakes are found throughout most of
central and eastern Europe. The species is also
present in England, but in a very limited range.
Light, sandy heathlands are the preferred
habitat, but smooth snakes will also readily live
in areas of dense undergrowth.
Breeding occurs when the snakes "wake
up" from hibernation in spring (mid-March
through to May). How mating pairs are formed has
not been determined.
Smooth snakes give birth to live young, after
a gestation period of about a year. Brood size
ranges from 2 to 15, depending on size of the
female, with 10 being the most common. The top of
the head of juveniles is entirely black and the
lateral series of spots on the body is more
Smooth snakes reach sexual maturity at 3-4
years. Average lifespan in the wild is about 18
Lizards and smaller snakes make up the
majority of the smooth snake's diet, but small
rodents will also be taken. Juveniles feed
entirely on reptiles. Prey is killed by
Smooth snakes are extremely
secretive, spending much of their time in a
variety of crevices and holes in the ground,
under stones, in loose sand and soil, and
concealed in litter and vegetation. When basking,
they often wrap themselves around heather in
order to camouflage themselves.
They are active by day, but avoid too much
heat, retreating through the hottest parts of the
day and preferring warm cloudy days and/or the
first and last few hours of sunlight. In hot
weather they can be active at night.
Their home range can be as large as 0.5 to 3
hectares, and they do not move a lot in a day.
They can climb but prefer to dwell on the
If encountered they are quite slow and placid,
but if handled they avoid biting.
genus & species Coronella austriaca
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