The dice snake (Natrix tessellata) is a European nonvenomous snake belonging to the family Colubridae, subfamily Natricinae.

Brief description Edit

File:Dicesnake umbriaitaly.jpg

Females are bigger than males. Maximum size is between 1.0-1.3 m (39-51 inches) long. The color may vary from greyish green to brownish or almost black, with dark spots on the back. The belly is sometimes vividly coloured in yellow or orange, with black spots, very similar to dice, hence the name.

Biology Edit

Living mainly near river streams or lakes, it frequently on fish. Sometimes it feeds also on amphibians like frogs, toads and tadpoles.

This snake is not venomous. As a defense it spreads a very bad smelling secretion from its cloaca. Another defence mechanism is thanatosis, that meaning the snake is playing dead.

During the mating season (March-April-May) they congregate in large groups. Egg laying is usually in July and one clutch consists of 10-30 eggs. The young snakes hatch in early September.

File:Natrix tessellata frombosnia.jpg

Dice snakes hibernate from October to April in dry holes near the water.

Distribution Edit

The dice snake is found throughout Europe and Asia: Lebanon, Israel, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland[1], Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, China.

Research projects Edit

One of the most numerous population lives in the vicinity of the ruins of Histria, in Dobrogea region, Romania. This population has been recently discovered to be threatened by a parasitic nematode, namely Eustrongylides. Since 2005, the population from Histria has been in researchers' attention. The Tessellata project, a joint Romanian-Swedish-Czech research program, is focused on population biology studies and parasitic threats of this unique costal population.


  1. Vlcek, Petr; Bartlomiej Najbar and Daniel Jablonski. (2010) First records of the Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata) from the North-Eastern part of the Czech Republic and Poland. Herpetology Notes 3:23-26

cs:Užovka podplamatá de:Würfelnatter fr:Natrix tessellata it:Natrix tessellata he:נחש מים משובץ ku:Marê avî hu:Kockás sikló nl:Dobbelsteenslang pl:Zaskroniec rybołów ru:Водяной уж simple:Dice snake sl:Kobranka sr:Речна змија sv:Rutsnok tr:Damalı su yılanı uk:Водяний вуж zh:棋斑水游蛇

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