Where to find them
The smooth snake is Britain's
rarest reptile, found only on heathlands in Dorset and Hampshire
and on one or two heaths in Surrey and West Sussex.
Many of the sites on which it occurs are also inhabited by the sand
smooth snake is dependent on well managed heathland where it
occupies mature vegetation that provides good cover. The smooth snake
shares the slow-wormâ€™s habit of hiding under stones, logs and other
debris exposed to the sun.
Smooth snakes are smaller and more slender than other snakes, usually only growing to
60-70cm in length. They are generally grey or a dull brown colour with
black markings arranged in bars or two rows of dots down the back.
Smooth snakes nearly always possess a heart-shaped â€˜crownâ€™, which covers the top of the head
An eye stripe
is usually present that extends from the eyes along the side of the
head. Its name comes from the fact that its scales are flat and
smooth, unlike those of the grass snake and adder which have a ridge (or
'keel') down the middle of each scale.
Smooth snakes are non-venomous and feed mainly
on common lizards, slow-worms and small mammals (especially shrews and
nestling rodents), which are captured and constricted in the coils of
its body. Live young, which look very similar to the adults, are â€˜bornâ€™
in September. The smooth snake is a secretive animal and when it basks
in the sun it does so entwined amongst the stems of heather plants where
it is superbly camouflaged.
Due to its rarity, the smooth snake is
strictly protected by British and European law which makes it an offence
to kill, injure, sell/trade, capture or disturb them or damage or
destroy their habitat.