Scientists have identified a new species of grass snake within the UK.
Barred grass snakes, Natrix helvetica, were previously viewed as a subspecies of the common grass snake Natrix natrix (pictured above). They have now been recognised as a species in their own right.
The barred grass snake is grey rather than green and does not display the yellow collar found on the Natrix natrix.
Both species inhabit lowland areas of Southern England and tend to consume amphibians. The snake has also been documented in Italy, France and Switzerland.
The discovery was made by a team of international researchers led by Professor Uwe Fritz from The Senckenberg Research Institute in Germany. The Professor commented: “We now have to pay close attention to which species of grass snake is involved in each case, in order to be able to assess whether one of them may be more threatened than previously thought.”