If you’re planning a trip to Norway, you might be wondering what kind of wildlife you can expect to encounter. Norway is home to a variety of wild animals, including polar bears, deer, European moose, elk, brown bears, Eurasian lynxes, and—you guessed it—snakes!
When most people think of Norway, they picture rolling hills, pristine forests, quaint and colorful towns and dramatic fjords. They don’t usually think of snakes. But are there snakes in Norway?
Yes, there are! Let’s take a look at the different native snakes that call Norway home and dispel some of the myths about these often-misunderstood creatures.
So read on if you’re not afraid of a little herpetological adventure!
The 3 Snake Species that Call Norway Home
Norway is home to three different species of snakes: the common viper (Vibera berus), the grass snake or water snake (Natrix natrix), and the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca). Of these three, only the common viper is poisonous. However, all snakes are protected by law in Norway, so it’s important to tread carefully if you encounter one on your travels.
The Common Viper (Vipera berus)
The common European viper, also called the common adder or European adder, is a small to medium-sized poisonous snake that can be found in wooded areas throughout Norway.
It is brown or grey in color with darker patches along its back and can grow up to 65 cm in length and is the only Norwegian snake that is venomous.
While common vipers are venomous and can be dangerous snakes, they are not aggressive and they will only bite if they feel threatened.
This species is found throughout Norway and is particularly fond of damp areas such as woods, bogs, and heaths.
If you’re lucky enough to spot a common viper on your travels, take care not to approach it too closely. The Viper’s venom is not deadly to humans, but viper bites can cause swelling and pain.
If you are bitten by a Viper, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Grass Snake or Water Snake (Natrix natrix)
The grass snake is the largest of the three Norwegian snake species and is a harmless snake. It can grow up to 1.5 meters in length! Grass snakes are green or brown in color with yellow stripes running down their sides.
As its name suggests, the grass snake is commonly found in meadows and near bodies of water such as lakes and streams. They are often mistaken for venomous snakes, but they are actually quite harmless.
Grass snakes mostly eat insects and small rodents.
While they are not venomous, grass snakes should not be handled as they may bite if they feel threatened.
Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)
The smooth snake is a constructor and the smallest of the Norwegian snakes. Adults only grow to be about 50 centimeters long.
Smooth snakes are brown or grey with dark blotches on their backs.
Smooth snakes prefer dry habitats such as heaths, forests, and rocky areas and mostly eat insects.
Smooth snakes are quite shy and rarely seen by humans. Like grass snakes, they are not venomous but may bite if handled inappropriately.
So there you have it—an overview of the three snakes you might encounter on your travels through Norway! Remember: all snakes are protected by law in Norway, so treat them with respect and caution if you come across them on your adventures.
And if you’re ever unsure whether a particular snake is poisonous or not, err on the side of caution and give it a wide berth!