Photo of Grass snake

Grass snake aka whip snake or dark green snake or couleuvre vert et jaune

The grass snake is very common in France, especially in the southern, warmer parts of the country.

Grass snake (couleuvre vert et jaune)

Reputedly the grass snake in France can reach 2metres in length, although 1.3 metres is a more usual maximum. Still large enough to startle those who, not infrequently, come across them. You will most likely come across on in an open clearing on a sunny day, near a region offering some shelter - river bank or edge of woodland for example.

The snake (latin name Coluber viridiflavus) is easily identifiable by the stripes and the often vibrant yellow / green markings.

Although it will bite (painfully) if cornered or feels threatened, the French grass snake is not venomous (unlike the smaller adder which is also found in France).

Sometimes the couleuvre is also seen in trees and bushes, which it climbs easily. Having looked up in a local woodland and found myself eye to eye with a hissing snake, I can confirm this will come as a surprise when it happens!

Coluber viridiflavus hibernates during the winter (October to April) and is most active during the late spring and summer months. For diet, it eats lizards, small mammals, birds and frogs.

The same snake seems to be know by several names, including Wip Snake, Whip Snake, Western Whip Snake, grass snake, and dark green snake. It also seems to go under two latin names - Hierophus viridiflavus and Coluber viridiflavus). As far as I can tell these all refer to the same snake!

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