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Herpetologica Hungarica- Part I.- Dice snake2014-09-01

Our new series will introduce the native snakes species of Hungary. In the first chapter, we are describing the dice snake, Natrix tessellata...

Hungarian native dice snakes (Natrix tessellata) are probably the most common snake species living near bigger lakes, rivers, streams. In constrast with grass snake (Natrix natrix), dice snake is strictly related to freshwater. They are widely spread in both European and Asian countries.

Olive green colored dice snake (Natrix tessellata) photographed at Akali beach, Balaton lake, Hungary.

Dice snakes are closely related to freshwater habitat. They prefer shallow waters, where they could swim perfectly and could endure even 10-15 mins under the water surface. They also like costal reedy areas, often appearing at popular beaches. After a longer diving, they stick out their head above the surface, using it as a periscope to monitor their surroundings. They prey mostly fishes, frogs and other amphibians. They leave the water for a longer period only for one reason: winter hibernation in the underground scoops. After waking up from hibernation in the spring, courthips often takes place in larger groups. They are laying on 10-25 eggs during the summertime. Juveniles hatch usually in September.

Greyish dice snake (Natrix tessellata) near reedy costal region, at Csopak, Balaton lake..

Just like grass snake (Natrix natrix), dice snake can also release smelly secretion from their glands when they are threatened. Sometimes they can also play dead (thanatosis). When they are captured they often hiss loudly, however they very rarely attempt to bite.

As all amphibians and reptiles in Hungary, dice snakes are also protected species.

Botond Ádám

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