The grass snake has been named Animal of the Year for 2015 by the nature protection organisation Pro Natura. The population of the reptile, also known as the ringed snake or water snake, is considered “vulnerable” in Switzerland.
Pro Natura also launched on Monday an appeal for the maintenance or creation of reptile habitats such as ponds.
The grass snake (Natrix natrix) is one of three water snakes in Switzerland – the others being the dice snake and the viperine snake. Females can grow to up to 140cm, males are smaller.
It is not venomous and is harmless for humans, the organisation said. It lives in or near water, where it catches its food: frogs, toads, salamanders and fish. The problem is that these areas are “dwindling drastically”.
Not only the authorities but also private garden owners can do their part to help the snakes, said Sabine Mari from Pro Natura.
“Piles of stones and wood can be used by reptiles – and other small animals – as a shelter. And compost heaps can serve as places to lay eggs,” she said. “It’s also important to not use pesticides.”