Severn Trent's Slithering Swimmers

7th September 2016

Severn Trent’s Tittesworth Water offers a whole host of activities for visitors to do, such as a spot of bird watching, enjoying long walks admiring the spectacular views and now, the possibility of spotting a rare grass snake taking a dip.

Tittesworth Water Ranger, Andrew Mayland, says: “At over a metre long, grass snakes are the UK’s largest reptile. They’re completely harmless to humans and don’t have venom, so if you do see one, there’s no need to panic. We’ve spotted grass snakes swimming across the reservoir which is quite rare as over the years they have become scarce. Whilst we discourage our visitors to swim in the reservoir, we can certainly make an exception in this instance.

“At Tittesworth Water, we provide the ideal habitat for the snakes. They like areas such as meadows with water where they can hunt for amphibians and small mammals. However, you can always encourage grass snakes to set up home in your garden, if you can provide a compost heap or a pile of grass cuttings to leave in a sunny place. As it starts to rot, this will create a natural incubator giving snakes the perfect environment in which to lay their eggs. Gardens can also provide all that’s needed to fulfil the snake’s diet of small amphibians such as toads and frogs and even small mammals.”

Grass snakes have their own natural predators that include badgers, cats, foxes, hedgehogs and even some birds. Andrew explains: “When the snakes feel threatened, they have a couple of clever tactics to deter their attackers. One of them is playing dead and the other is to release a strong, foul smelling substance which will make their predators believe they are long dead and not worth bothering with. So if you visit Tittesworth and smell something strong and peculiar, it may well be that there’s a grass snake playing dead nearby!”

Severn Trent is all too familiar with finding our slithery friends in unexpected places. Last month a grass snake found itself in a spot of bother at the Carnfield Sewage Pump Station. The snake was sought out and released safely back into the wild by the engineers at the site.