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Natrix tessellata

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Title: Natrix tessellata  
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Subject: Natrix, List of reptiles of Europe, List of reptiles of Lebanon, Mureş Floodplain Natural Park, Kamchia (biosphere reserve)
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Natrix tessellata

dice snake
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Natricinae
Genus: Natrix
Species: N. tessellata
Binomial name
Natrix tessellata
(Laurenti, 1768)

Coronella tessellata Laurenti, 1768
Coluber tessellatus Bonnaterre, 1790
Tropidonotus tessellatus, part., Wagler, 1830
Natrix tessellata Bonaparte, 1834
Tropidonotus tessellatus Boulenger, 1893[1]

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

Brief description

Females are bigger than males. Maximum size is 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.


Living mainly near river streams or lakes, it frequently feeds 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, meaning 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.

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


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,[2] Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, China.

Research projects

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. For example, a joint Romanian-Swedish-Czech research program, is focused on population biology studies and parasitic threats of this unique costal population. An overview on Biology, Distribution and Conservation is given in [3]


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