THE GRASS SNAKE

APPEARANCE - SPECIAL ABILITIES - TERRITORY
HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR - DIET - MATING - MYTH/LORE

Grass Snakes live throughout the continent of Sarvonia, making their home in grassy fields and heaths. They are fairly harmless creatures and pose no threat to humans in the least bit. The usually eat small rodents, fish, insects, and eggs. There are four different subspecies of Grass Snake, named for the color of their scales: Green, Gold, Bronze, and Black.

The Grass Snake
View picture in full size Image description: A common Green Grass Snake. Picture drawn by Quellion.

Appearance. Grass Snakes can grow up to 2 fores in length, but typically average 1 to 1.5 fores from their nose to the tip of their tail. They tend to be only 2 or 3 nailsbreadths in diameter at the thickest part of their body, but this estimate may depend on if they have just eaten or how healthy they are. They have a long, slender head with a slightly upturned snout. They have two shiny black eyes on either side of their head. It is believed that these snakes, like most, donít have ears, as thus far none can be found, but many believe that they can sense vibrations and feel heat. Though they have small fangs, Grass Snakes are no venomous and are not dangerous at all to humans. However, these snakes will use their fangs to defend themselves if necessary, and more commonly use them to capture and kill prey.

The scales of the Grass Snake are dry and fairly smooth. The skin of this snake, made up of many scales, has an elastic quality, able to stretch and contract rather easily. These snakes typically shed their skin, a process known as molting, about every one or two months. The scales on the back of the snake are shaped like diamonds while the scales on the belly are long rectangles, extending from one side of the back to the other. The color of the Grass Snake depends upon the species. There are four known species: Green, Gold, Bronze, and Black.

Special Abilities. Grass Snakes have a great skill to be able to sense vibrations and heat. Though they donít have poison to kill their pray, they can effectively kill using their sharo fangs. They donít have many defenses against predators like hawks and weasels, but their coloration often helps them to hide in the grassy regions where they reside. Return to the top

Territory. Grass Snakes live in grassy plains and field all over Sarvonia. Each of the different subspecies of Grass Snake lives in a different part of the continent. For more information, refer to the summaries given about each subspecies located in the Appearance section.
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Habitat/Behaviour. Grass Snakes are rather timid and non-aggressive, and are more likely to turn and run then engage themselves in a fight. They stay hidden in the grasses of their habitat most of the time. These snakes are independent creatures, and will not hunt or live with another snake. Grass Snakes are more active in the daytime and retire into shallow holes or hallow logs when the sky grows dark, though some northern species are known to be active until the late evening. Because they are cold-blooded, they sometimes can be spotted sunning themselves on rocks or in the middle of the road, if its not too dusty. However, if they sense the least bit of danger, they are gone in a flash. Most species hibernate during the cold winter months, save those living in Southern Sarvonia, such as the Gold Snake, who will not hibernate at all.
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Diet. Grass Snakes eat small rodents like mice and rats, but also bugs, such as the beetle. They have been known to hunt for small fish on the shores of rivers or lakes. If they are lucky to come across a nest of bird eggs, they will happily gobble them up. However, they do not eat snake eggs or eggs of any reptile, for that mater. When eating its prey, the snake will always eat it head first. This is to keep fur and fish scales from getting caught in the snakeís throat or hindering their swallowing of it. These snakes, like others, also have the ability to unhinge their jaw, and thus are able to swallow food bigger than their head.
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Mating. Grass Snakes, like more snakes, reproduce sexually. Mating season starts in early autumn and lasts until late autumn. During this time, individual snakes will seek each other out. Some believe that snakes produce some sort of scent that humans cannot smell, but not one knows for sure. If two snakes of different gender find each other, they will mate. This process includes the male curling his tail around the femaleís and depositing his sperm into her. Mating occurs in a first come first serve basis, so to speak, and is a non-aggressive process. The female will spend several months developing her eggs before laying them in a shallow hole or rotten log in early to mid spring. She will then leave them to hatch on their own. The eggs are leathery and expand as the snakelings grow. In 8 to 10 weeks, the eggs will hatch. They will mate within the year and may live up to 8 years.
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Myth/Lore. At one time it was believed that Grass Snakes actually reproduced via spontaneous generation; that is, springing as miniature snakelings directly from the grass in which they lived! In fact, there are still old peasants who may be found in the countryside who refuse to cut their borders and verges, alluding to this belief and saying it will "slay the Snakemothers" and that vermin will flourish as a result...

This ancient superstition was doubtless a result of the snake's shyness and sensitivity to vibration which would cause it to flee rather than be observed by a potential predator, so that its mating process was not observed until quite early in this enlightened century, and the fact that three of the four species so closely match the grasses of their habitat in colour that they are almost indistinguishable.

In some areas bowls of milk are set out on barn thresholds in hope of attracting a harmless Grassie or two to clear out the mice population.

Children in the northern areas of Santharia believe that the direction a Grass Snake slithers off in after it is caught and released will answer a question they ask of it, or give a prophecy. The rhyme chanted at such a time is shown below in two of its many forms:

"Grassie, grassie, wriggle free,
Here's the boon I beg of thee.
South for aye and north for nay,
East now, west another day."

"Grassie, grassie, wriggle for me,
Hear my question, hear my plea.
Wriggle south, the answer's aye,
Wriggle north, for nay I'll cry.
Wriggle east and joy I'll know,
Wriggle westward brings me woe."
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Information provided by Rayne Avalotus View Profile