IMG_2990It is amazing how close anglers get to nature, and how often we encounter species that are otherwise rarely seen. Kingfishers, water voles, otters and, of course, grass snakes.

The grass snake (Natrix natrix) is never far from water. With a largely amphibian diet, they are able swimmers and are even known to catch small fish. They are non-poisonous, and do not constrict, instead using ambush to grab unsuspecting prey.

The grassie is Britain’s largest native reptile, with females growing in excess of five feet in length. They are absent from most of Scotland (and all of Ireland) and emerge in spring whereafter they mate, slough (shed the skin), and eat, before the females find suitable spots to lay her eggs. Compost heaps are a favourite, along with log-piles or dry mulch. To avoid capture they will sometimes play dead, but almost always squirt a foul smelling liquid from their anal gland. It has an incredible whiff, and tends not to go down well if you take a snake home in your pocket..

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