6 Different Types of Snakes in the UK

Types of Snakes in the UK
Photo by Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash

Would you like to know what kinds of snakes may be found in the United Kingdom? If so, you’ve arrived at the ideal location. We have included a list of the types of snakes in the UK in the post below. 

You will discover accurate identification methods for each snake species and fascinating facts and images.

You’ll notice that these types of snakes in the UK are different. They include snakes that use constriction to render their prey immobile and venomous

Furthermore, it’s not uncommon to discover some snakes residing close to humans.

I assume you have encountered at least one of the following major types of snakes in the UK in your backyard. 

1. Adder

by Joe Pell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The adders, or Vipera berus, are starting our list of types of snakes in the UK. They are red-eyed, gray-brown snakes with distinctive zigzag patterns down its spine.

The species, only 50–80 cm long and found on heaths, moors, and forests, has drastically decreased over the last 30 years and is now nonexistent in numerous counties in the Midlands.

The adder is the sole venomous snake in Britain, and it employs its poison to control ground-nesting birds, lizards, and small rodents.

They can attract birds closer by wriggling the tips of their tails to make them look like worms or caterpillars. We call this “caudal luring.”

These types of snakes in the UK breed from April to May, and the first young appear in August or September.

Unlike other female adders, females incubate their eggs internally before giving birth to live young.

Adders break out of their hibernation relatively early in the year, and on milder days as early as late January, they can be spotted sunbathing on hedge banks and south-facing hills.

2. Common Grass Snake

Common Grass Snake 
by Chris_Moody is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Even though they are not poisonous and rarely bite, I would advise against handling these common snakes because they have some intriguing defense systems.

First, a fluid expelled through their anus may smell strongly of garlic. 

Alternatively, you might see blood leaking from their nose and mouth. If that’s not enough, the particular snake might vomit everything they have been consuming to you.

Hesitating and hitting without speaking are also typical behaviors.

Until a few years ago, it was believed that the Barred Grass Snake (Natrix helvetica) and the Common Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) belonged to the same species.

However, a more thorough investigation revealed that the two species varied enough to be classified as distinct.

3. Aesculapian Snake

Aesculapian Snake 
by Rob_biodiversity is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Aesculapian Snake is also one of the types of snakes in the UK that can reach a length of two meters (6.5 ft). Its silky scales give it a metallic luster, and its usual color is dark bronze. 

Adults can also be nearly black, brownish-green, or olive-yellow. Many people have white freckles on their bodies.

The United Kingdom is not home to Aesculapian snakes. They originated in continental Europe. 

Although their population in the UK is not very large, they have a breeding population found at Bridgend, South Wales, Colwyn Bay in North Wales, and the Regent’s Canal in London.

These types of snakes in the UK are skilled climbers, easily scaling steep tree trunks without branches, so keep an eye out for them if you visit these places.

They don’t try to avoid people and can occasionally be spotted in gardens, stonewalls, and outbuildings.

Because Aesculapian Snakes are reticent, they are rarely sighted. They spend a lot of time in the canopies of trees and blend quite well with their environment.

Unlike other types of snakes in the UK, they attempt to conceal themselves by slinking away when discovered rather than displaying an aggressive demeanor.

4. Smooth Snake

Smooth Snake
by naturalengland is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca) is similar to an adder, except it has no zigzag pattern. It looks similar to an adder but slightly smaller without the zigzag lines running along the back.

It is a burrowing snake that is reclusive and only found in a few counties, ranging from Surrey to Dorset. 

Populations of these types of snakes in the UK have been reintroduced in Devon and West Sussex.

Hunts and ambushes other reptiles. Its tiny teeth can give people a moderate scratch, yet it poses no threat or poison.

There are just a few locations where this stunning but reticent species can be found in the sandy lowland heaths of southern England.

It is distinguished by the adorable brown dots forming a morse code down its back.

Its term “smooth” comes from the fact that, in contrast to adders and grass snakes, its body is covered in scales that feel soft to the touch because they lack keels.

5. Grass Snake

Grass Snake 
by Aah-Yeah is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The body of a grass snake (Natrix helvetica) is gray-green, with a yellow marking on the head.

It is the longest snake in Britain, growing up to 150 cm. Its body is gray-green, and its head has a small yellow “mask” marking. 

Preferably found in wetlands, the grass snake hunts fish, frogs, newts, and small mammals, occasionally swimming underwater to get its prey.

It’s the most ubiquitous and versatile type of snake in the UK, frequently sighted in gardens, especially in compost piles.

6. Slow Worm

Slow Worm
by pete. #hwcp is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Because of its legless look, the slow worm, technically known as Anguis fragilis, is a fascinating reptile ending our list of types of snakes in the UK.

It is, nevertheless, a member of the lizard family. 

The skin of slow worms is slick and smooth, and their body is long and lean, with colors ranging from pale brown to bronze.

Around the United Kingdom, they are frequently found in various settings, such as gardens, woodlands, meadows, and grasslands.

In addition to being safe for humans, slow worms help manage pest populations. Their main sources of food include insects, snails, and slugs.

To help them hunt for food, these types of snakes in the UK use the flickering tongue to sense chemical cues in their surroundings.

In slow worms, reproduction is viviparous, meaning that females give birth to live young. The female keeps the fertilized eggs inside her body until they hatch after mating. 

From birth, the young slow worms are self-sufficient and eventually reach adulthood.

Even though they are useful, slow worms have several problems, such as habitat degradation, fragmentation, and interactions with domestic cats that could treat them like prey.


The diversity of the types of snakes in the UK population is enhanced by species such as the legless lizard slow worm, the aquatic specialized grass snake, the venomous adder, and the elusive smooth snake.

For their continuing existence and the well-being of their ecosystems, it is crucial to comprehend their distinctive qualities, value their ecological responsibilities, and give the protection of their top priority.

For the sake of present and future generations, we can guarantee a healthy and balanced ecology by cultivating a harmonious connection with these fascinating types of snakes in the UK.

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