The 3 Types of Snakes That Live in Latvia! (ID Guide)
Do you want to learn about the types of snakes found in Latvia?
If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the snakes you can expect to see. For each species, you will find out how to identify that snake correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!
You’ll see that the snakes that live in Latvia are very different from each other. In addition, certain snakes are common to find living around people. My guess is that you have seen at least one of the snakes below in your yard. 🙂
Here are the 3 types of snakes that live in Latvia:
#1. Smooth Snake
- Coronella austriaca
- Adults grow between 60 cm – 75 cm (23.5 – 29.5 inches) long.
- On the top of the head is a dark marking which is often in the shape of a crown.
- Usually dark brown or gray in color. Two rows of indistinct dark spots run down its back.
- As the name suggests, the scales of Smooth Snakes are very smooth and flat to the touch.
These small and slender snakes can be hard to find in Latvia because they are secretive.
Even when Smooth Snakes bask in the sun, they intertwine amongst plants to keep camouflaged. They are sometimes found after rain showers when individuals must leave their hiding places to escape the water and bask more openly.
Smooth Snake Range Map
Their primary prey is other reptiles, such as small lizards. But they will eat small mammals and birds occasionally. When threatened, they try to remain motionless and undetected, but Smooth Snakes won’t hesitate to bite when captured.
Interestingly, Smooth Snakes are ovoviviparous. This term means that the eggs are incubated internally, giving birth to live young!
- Vipera berus
Also known as the Common European Adder / Viper.
- Adults average around 55 cm (22 in) long.
- Color varies and can be brown, red, or light grey with a zigzag stripe on the back. But some individuals are entirely black.
- The head is fairly large and distinct and has a distinctive dark V or X on the back.
Despite being venomous, Adders are not considered an incredibly dangerous snake in Latvia.
Luckily, they are not very aggressive and rarely bite unless stepped on, picked up, or provoked. If you are bitten, their venom is quite painful and causes swelling, internal hemorrhaging, and necrosis. While the venom can be lethal, deaths are incredibly rare.
Adder Range Map
Adders are found in many habitats, such as forest clearings, marshlands, heathlands, pastures with hedgerows, and even alpine meadows in the Alps. They mostly eat small mammals, but lizards, birds, and frogs are taken when available.
Because of their large distribution and a broad range of habitats, the population of Adders is currently not threatened. But their numbers are decreasing slightly due to habitat loss for agriculture and collecting them for the pet trade and venom extraction.
#3. Grass Snake
- Natrix natrix
Also commonly called the Ringed Snake or Water Snake.
- Adults can grow up to 150 cm (59 inches) long.
- Coloration is usually olive-green, brown, or greyish.
- Rows of black spots on the back and a row of black bars or spots on the sides.
- They have a characteristic black-bordered yellow collar behind the head.
This species is one of the most common snakes in Latvia!
Being strong swimmers, look for them near wet areas, such as ponds, lakes, streams, ditches, and marshes. But it’s not surprising to find a Grass Snake in drier habitats, such as backyard gardens, open woodlands, and grasslands.
Grass Snake Range Map
They are NOT venomous and rarely bite when captured or threatened. Instead, you can expect them to hiss and spray a smelly substance from their anal glands. If this doesn’t work, they may pretend to be dead, flipping over and letting their tongue hang out of their mouth. Interestingly, Grass Snakes sometimes act like a cobra, where they raise the front of their body and flatten their heads to resemble a hood!
Grass Snakes mostly eat amphibians, such as frogs and toads. They are not ambush predators and actively search for their prey using their keen eyesight and sense of smell. In addition, they eat their prey alive without the use of constriction.
Do you need more help identifying a snake you saw in Latvia?
If so, check out this field guide, which is full of great information!
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Which of these snakes have you seen before in Latvia?
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