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help with snake ID please

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LucyG View Drop Down
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    Posted: 07 Jun 2016 at 9:28pm
Hello
 
This may well be a question nobody can give me a definitive answer to as I just don't have enough information. However I'd appeciate any advice on what people think its most likely that I saw. Thank you in advance.
 
I saw a snake briefly and I don't know if it was a grass snake or a smooth snake. It was in the very edge of some deciduous woodland next to the dry, sandy Southern half of Thursley Common in Surrey. It was quite light greyish colour with some very subtle dark markings along the length of it's body and a more prominent dark collar (as seen from above/behind). There was no hint of a pale or yellow collar. I thought it was a good 2ft long.
 
From googling pictures of both, it looked more like a smooth snake than a grass snake, but was it too large? I know smooth snakes are much rarer than grass snakes generally, but how do they compare with abberant grass snakes with no pale in their collars?
 
Thanks for any help.
 
Lucy
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Iowarth View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Iowarth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jun 2016 at 9:40pm
Hi Lucy
While 2 ft is right at the top end of size for a smooth snake the rest of the description does sound about right. Certainly they are found on some of the Surrey heaths and others on this forum might know if Thursley is one of these.  Was the dark collar marking actually well behind the head or was it actually at the back of the head? The latter is common in smoothies. Certainly, however, in some grassies the yellow collar can be so pale as to be almost invisible. Similarly, with grassies the dark markings are largely on the flanks generally speaking whereas with smoothies they are more likely to be on the back as well.
Hopefully, if you can clarify any of the above we could produce a fairly definite (maybe!) answer
All the best
Chris
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will View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2016 at 6:20am
Here's another thing to consider based more on response - did it scoot off like a bat out of hell? if so, grass snake. Did it stay there trying its best not to be seen? if so, smooth snake!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LucyG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2016 at 3:42pm
Hi Chris and Will

Thanks so much for your replies. I think based on both of your replies grass snake is more likely. 2ft is right at the bottom end of how big it might have been, I thought it was pushing 2ft while heavily curved, so would have been longer if it straightened out.

The behavioural difference is a great clue, thanks Will! It started 'scooting off' up the bank before we even got close to it, and kept going when we went closer to have a look. It certainly had a very different response to the adders I've seen, which seem to just stay perfectly still and camouflaged.

Unfortunately I don't think I can be more specific about the markings. It had isolated darkish blocks along it's body, not a full on pattern all over. The collar was a more prominent black feature. I can't honestly remember exactly where they were though. I only saw it briefly mid-scoot and, as is always the trouble with new things, I didn't know which features were important to note at the time!

I feel like based on size and behaviour grass snake is a pretty good bet. Especially if the lack of pale collar is relatively common, that was the main thing that put me off. Thank you both for your help :-)

Lucy




Edited by LucyG - 09 Jun 2016 at 4:12pm
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will View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2016 at 5:21pm
No problem Lucy, happy to help!  grass snake sounds more likely, I agree.  
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