The rarest of the three snakes native to Britain, the smooth snake is now very rarely seen in UK, being mainly restricted to a few sites in the south of England. Loss of heathland habitat is generally believed to be the main factor responsible for the decline in numbers.
Growing to 60 cm (about 2 ft) in length, smooth snakes are grey or brown with two rows of darkish spots on their backs, and they have flat scales (grass snakes and adders have keel-like ridges down the centre of each scale) - hence the common name. Smooth snakes are very slim creatures compared with adders or grass snakes of the same length.
Smooth snakes eat lizards and small rodents, killing their prey by constriction. Like most of the reptiles native to Britain, smooth snakes are viviparous, and they are reported to produce up to 15 young.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act provides very strict protection for this snake, which in Britain is considered to be threatened with extinction. If you come across a smooth snake you are not allowed to handle or even disturb it.
Pictures copyright Bob Osborne