The European grass snake is Finland’s largest snake. This snake is differentiated from the adder by its round pupil, which is oval in the adder. Also, the adder’s zigzag pattern is missing from the grass snake. In its natural habitat, the grass snake feeds on frogs, small mammals, birds and fish. Among the habitats of this snake, which grows to around 80 centimetres in length (the Finnish record is 134 cm), are shores, the edges of ditches and other damp areas. The Latin name “Natrix” means water snake.
If the grass snake is startled, it dives away into hiding in vegetation or a stony hollow. If it is caught, it hisses, feigns attacks and may even bite. The grass snake also often squirts at the assailant an extremely foul-smelling secretion from its anal glands, which are next to the cloaca, and the smell does not wash off clothes very easily either. If nothing else works, the snake may play dead: it turns onto its back, opens its mouth and lets its tongue hang from its mouth. It is very clever at pretending to be dead, and it is not even possible to see any movements from its breathing.
When kept in a terrarium, grass snakes have lived to an age of 20 years. The grass snake is completely non-poisonous, and it is protected.
All Maretarium´s European grass snakes are nowadays in Ähtäri Zoo.