Snake’s battle with magpie

Shock for a couple.
Shock for a couple.

A Sussex couple were taken by surprise recently when they saw a four-foot snake in the back garden.

Helen and Bryan Davies who live in Tower Hill, near Horsham, spotted the reptile in their garden, which backs onto a field.

Mrs Davies said: “It was just in the middle of the lawn basking in the sun. It was being attacked by a magpie and we heard the noise. We thought the magpie was attacking our cat.

“My husband went out with the camera, but I was more unsure. I don’t mind spiders, but not snakes.

“It was over three-foot long. I looked it up online to make sure it wasn’t an adder.

“After I got the information that it wasn’t an adder, I felt more brave. My husband ushered it off into the field.”

Sussex Wildlife Trust conservation officer Jess Price confirmed it was a grass snake.

She said: “People often think they have seen an adder when it is actually a grass snake because grass snakes grow fairly big - an average of three to four feet.

“People who are not used to seeing snakes assume that a big snake must be an adder.

“In reality adders tend to be much smaller than grass snakes - a maximum of three feet. Although they look big, grass snakes are completely harmless as they are non-venomous.

“They do not often come into gardens as they are also sensitive to disturbance, but the chances are increased if you live in a semi-rural area or your garden backs onto a wild area.

“If you see a snake please do not worry. The snake will likely be more scared of you and will quickly slither away.

“We are always interested to hear about snake sightings as all of our British snakes are declining. This is mostly due to loss of habitat and illegal persecution.”

People can contact the trust’s WildCall information service on 01273 494777 or email wildcall@sussexwt.org.uk