Äskulapnatter (Zamenis longissimus) CC BY-SA 3.0 FelixReimann (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Äskulapnatter#/media/Datei:Zamenis_longissimus.jpg)

Aesculapian snake


The Aesculapian snake reaches an average body length of 1.40 to 1.60 m, but can also grow up to two meters long and is powerfully built. Males generally grow slightly larger than females.

The basic coloration of the snake ranges from a yellowish brown to olive green and grayish brown to grayish black, with a smooth and shiny surface. Many of the scales are outlined in white, creating a light longitudinal striation along the body. In some animals there is an additional dark longitudinal stripe along the sides of the body. The belly is light or greenish yellow to whitish in color. However, in very dark individuals the ventral side of the body may be blue-black in color. While the 23 (rarely 21) rows of dorsal and lateral scales are smooth, the ventral scales have slight keels that facilitate climbing.

The head is only slightly separated from the body and normally has no markings. A dark temporal band may be developed above the eyes, extending backward to the neck. The eyes are medium sized with a round pupil. The head has eight, rarely nine, upper lip shields or supralabialia and a fore-eye shield called a praeoculare in herpetology.

The young animals are clearly more conspicuously marked. They have a bright basic coloration with dark staining on the back as well as a clear dark transverse band over the snout and a v-drawing in the neck directed to the back. In addition, there is a dark temporal band and a light yellow spot behind it on both sides. These spots can lead to confusion with the European grass snake (Natrix natrix), in which these spots are typical.


The Aesculapian snake prefers warm and sunny areas, which should not be too dry. Accordingly, the snakes are found mainly in warm, humid, sun-exposed places in the lowlands and on sunny slopes in the mountains. It is also often found on the banks of water bodies and in riparian forests, as well as in forest clearings or in scree and bushes with ivy and brambles. Also popular are stone walls, old quarries, ruins and the edges of agricultural land, such as scrubby slope meadows. The highest occurrences are at about 1500 to 2000 m, but mostly it lives below 1000 m altitude.

The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia ( (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Äskulapnatter). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 24 June 2021