Würfelnatter (Natrix tessellata) CC BY-SA 3.0 Orchi (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Würfelnatter#/media/Datei:Natrix_tessellata_Rheinland-Pfalz_01.jpg)

Dice snake


Dice snakes are snakes of slender, laterally somewhat flattened shape and with a narrow, pointed head. Females grow larger than males, sometimes reaching a total length of 130 cm in southeastern Europe; a maximum of 102 cm has been recorded in Germany. Males, on the other hand, rarely grow longer than 80 cm. The coloration of the upperpart varies - also regionally different - between different shades of gray, brown and olive and can appear very light to very dark. As a drawing pattern, there are usually four to five rows of mostly square spots, after which the snake species is named. These are either alternately arranged or can merge into longitudinal bands or transverse bands. The underpart of the animals is colored white to yellow and has a pattern of (blue)black, square, contrasting spots.

Juveniles have a lighter ground color and exhibit a bold v-spot on the nape of the neck. Otherwise they are more or less vividly spotted like the adults.

The eyes of the dice snake have round pupils and an inwardly yellow, unspotted iris; outwardly this darkens with brown or black coloration. The tongue, which ends in two narrow, long tips, is flesh-colored. The dorsal scales are strongly keeled. There is a very high degree of variation in the scale characteristics. Usually the head area has two to three preocularia (anterior eye shields), two to five postocularia (posterior eye shields), seven to eight supralabialia (upper lip shields), and eight to ten sublabialia (lower lip shields). The number of blackish caudal subshields varies from 54 to 78, with males having longer tails and correspondingly more caudal shields.

One of the ways the dice snake differs from the closely related European grass snake is the lack of moon-shaped light spots on the back of the head.


This snake inhabits climatically favored river courses and lakes in floodplains with high fish populations. The riparian zones should be structured close to nature and should have herbaceous vegetation as well as open rinsing margins and banks of gravel or gravel stones. Furthermore, shallow, current-calmed zones with high solar radiation are important, as well as slopes near the banks with dry grassland and rocks, dry stone walls or similar rich in shelters.

The dice snake is the snake with the strongest connection to the water habitat in Central Europe. It can swim and dive excellently and often spends many hours in shallow water. Only for sunbathing, reproduction and hibernation it leaves the water. But it also sometimes goes to the river bank to devour bulky prey, which consists almost exclusively of small to medium-sized fish. If disturbed, it regurgitates the prey and escapes into the water.

Dice snakes are diurnal with a focus on the morning and afternoon hours. While the morning is used for sunbathing, foraging takes place in the afternoon. Thereby the available species spectrum of fish is used. 

The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Würfelnatter). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 26 May 2021