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Smooth snake

Smooth snake

Smooth snakes live throughout the heathy areas of the New Forest, but are very seldom seen. In the UK they are extremely rare and are restricted to the heathlands of Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey. Areas of the Forest are so important for them that they have been given international nature conservation protection.

Smooth snakes live on heathlands with mature heather. They will also visit woodland edges and boggy areas in search of food. Your best chance of seeing a smooth snake will be to slowly and quietly search south-facing heathery slopes. Search on a sunny morning when they are likely to be basking. You will need patience and luck!

The smooth snake eats lizards (including the equally rare sand lizard), small rodents and other snakes such as young adders. It is not venomous and uses one or two coils to restrain its prey although it is not a true constrictor like a python. It can live for 20 years.

Photograph supplied by Forestry England

ID Tip

ID Tip

At first glance a smooth snake could be mistaken for an adder, but the markings do not have the diamond or criss-cross pattern. They are our smallest snake, only growing up to 50-70cm long. They are grey / brown with dark spots or bars along the upper body. The head has a dark top and a dark stripe through the eye. The pupils are rounded with a golden iris.

Lead Ranger


'To help ground nesting birds rear their young safely, keep yourself, dogs and ridden horses on the main tracks from the beginning of March to the end of August.'

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