Dice Snake

Natrix tessellata tessellata

Dice Snakes are aquatic snakes and live on and in the water. Able swimmers and divers, they can remain under water for several hours at a time. The ongoing destruction of natural riverbanks and other shorelines has robbed this interesting species of the environment it requires to flourish.

Dorsal surface is slate grey to olive with two rows of more or less prominent black spots. These blotches may run into each other and even merge towards the middle of the back. A longitudinal row of dark blotches may be found on the flanks. This species reaches a body length between 60 and 90cm; extremely large individuals may reach 150cm. Scales are strongly keeled. Like other members of the Colubridae family, the Dice Snake has nine prominent shields on the top of its head.

The Dice Snake is highly localized in Lower Austria.

Endangerment and Conservation Status
The Dice Snake is one of the most endangered reptiles in Lower Austria. The continued destruction of natural water habitats will further endanger this species.

Dice Snakes are completely at home in and on the water. In fact, they only hunt in the water, preying on small fish, frogs and newts. They track their victims on the bottom of the river or pond, under stones or branches; or they anchor themselves with their tail and lash out, lightning-fast, at prey swimming by. During the months of June and July, the Dice Snake lays 5 to 25 eggs in loose earth, humus or rotting tree trunks. Approximately two months later, the young animals with a body length of around 20cm hatch. When threatened, the Dice Snake glides noiselessly into the water and dives to safety.

Special Characteristics
Like the Grass Snake, the Dice Snake also empties its scent glands when threatened.