Coronelía austriaca Laurenti, 1768. Three subspecies are recognized.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Couleuvre lisse; German: Glattnatter.
Adults reach about 24 in (60 cm) in length. This is a shiny, grayish or reddish brown snake with ill-defined, paired blotches down the back.
Europe (including southern England) and western Asia, from Scandinavia to northern Spain and east to Kazakhstan and northern Iran.
Fairly dry, open, rocky habitats are favored, including stone walls. In England this species favors heathlands, finding shelter under rocks and logs.
The smooth snake forages diurnally. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
This snake feeds primarily on lizards, but other small vertebrates are also taken. The prey is constricted.
This species is viviparous, giving birth to about four to 15 young.
Numbers reportedly have declined greatly in England and elsewhere in its European range. Although not listed by the IUCN, the species is fully protected in Europe, being listed in Appendix II of the Bern Convention of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and on Annex IV of the European Union Habitat and Species Directive.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
The smooth snake is apparently a sensitive indicator of the health of heathlands in southern England. ♦
Was this article helpful?