You are here » home advanced search search results Natrix helvetica

Natrix helvetica (LACÉPÈDE, 1789)

Can you confirm these amateur observations of Natrix helvetica?

Add your own observation of
Natrix helvetica »

Find more photos by Google images search: Google images

Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesNatrix helvetica helvetica (LACÉPÈDE 1789)
Natrix helvetica cetti GENÉ 1839
Natrix helvetica corsa (HECHT 1930)
Natrix helvetica sicula (CUVIER 1829) 
Common NamesE: Banded Grass Snake
G: Barren-Ringelnatter
Italian: natrice barrata 
SynonymColuber helveticus LACÉPÈDE 1789 (nomen protectum)
Coluber vulgaris RAZOUMOWSKY 1789 (invalid name)
Coluber Helvetus DONNDORFF 1798 (in error)
Coluber scopolianus DAUDIN 1803 (nomen oblitum)
Coluber Jenisonii GISTEL 1848
Tropidonotus natrix britannicus HECHT 1930
Natrix natrix helvetica — THORPE 1975
Natrix natrix helvetica — HENLE 1980
Natrix natrix helvetica — VANNI & LANZA 1983: 174
Natrix helvetica — TREPTE 1993
Natrix natrix helvetica — PAWLOWSKI & KRÄMER 2009
Natrix natrix helvetica — FRITZ et al. 2012
Natrix helvetica (lineage E) — KINDLER et al. 2017
Natrix helvetica — KINDLER et al. 2017
Natrix helvetica — SPEYBROECK et al. 2020
Natrix natrix helvetica — FRITZ & SCHMIDTLER 2020: 656
Natrix helvetica01151

Natrix helvetica cetti GENÉ 1839
Natrix cetti GENÉ 1839: 272
Tropidonotus natrix cetti — HECHT 1930: 307
Natrix natrix cetti — VANNI & LANZA 1983: 176
Natrix cetti cetti — VANNI & CIMMARUTA 2010
Natrix natrix cetti — SCHMID 2013
Natrix natrix cetti — LUNGHI et al. 2016
Natrix helvetica cetti — KINDLER et al. 2017
Natrix natrix cetti — LUNGHI et al. 2018
Natrix natrix cetti — LUNGHI et al. 2019
Natrix natrix cetti — FRITZ & SCHMIDTLER 2020: 656
Natrix helvetica cetti — DI NICOLA et al. 2023

Natrix helvetica corsa (HECHT 1930)
Tropidonotus natrix corsus HECHT 1930: 308
Natrix natrix corsa — DELAGUERRE & CHEYLAN 1992: 82
Natrix cetti corsa — VANNI & CIMMARUTA 2010
Natrix helvetica corsa — KINDLER et al. 2017
Natrix natrix corsa — FRITZ & SCHMIDTLER 2020: 656

Natrix helvetica sicula (CUVIER 1829)
Coluber bipes GMELIN 1789 (nomen oblitum)
Coluber tyrolensis GMELIN 1789 (nomen oblitum)
Coluber bipedalis BECHSTEIN 1802 (nomen oblitum)
Coluber scopolianus DAUDIN 1803 (nom. nov., nomen oblitum)
Coluber viperinus RAFINESQUE 1814 (nom. invalidum)
Vipera vissena RAFINESQUE 1814 (nomen oblitum)
Coluber siculus CUVIER 1829: 84 (nomen protectum)
Natrix torquata var. Senescens MINÀ PALUMBO 1863
Tropidonotus natrix var. nigri­torquata NINNI 1880
Tropidonotus natrix var. sicula — BOETTGER 1880: 141
Tropidonotus natrix var. bulsanensis GREDLER 1882
Natrix natrix sicula — MERTENS 1928
Tropidonotus natrix siculus — HECHT 1930: 302
Natrix helvetica lanzai KRAMER 1971
Natrix natrix lanzai — SCHWARZER et al. 1982
Natrix natrix calabra VANNI & LANZA in LANZA 1983
Natrix natrix sicula — VANNI & LANZA 1983: 173
Natrix natrix sicula — SCHLÜTER 2009
Natrix natrix calabra — CORTI 2013
Natrix helvetica sicula — KINDLER et al. 2017
Natrix helvetica lanzai — KINDLER et al. 2017
Natrix helvetica sicula — SCHULTZE et al. 2020
Natrix helvetica sicula — FRITZ & SCHMIDTLER 2020: 656
Natrix helvetica sicula — ASZTALOS et al. 2021
Natrix helvetica sicula — NEUMANN et al. 2024 
DistributionEngland (UK), Netherlands, Luxembourg, W/S Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Italy

cetti: Italy (Sardinia); Type locality: villages Fonni and Monte di San Giovanni d’Igelsias.

corsa: France (Corsica); Type locality: Corsica

sicula Italy, incl. Sicily, Austria, S Germany; Type locality: Sicily

vulgaris, helvetica: Type locality: Jorat, Switzerland  
TypesHolotype: unlocated, apparently not in MNHN-RA fide I. Ineich, pers. comm. 21 May 2019.
Holotype: ZMB 33060 [britannicus]
Lectotype: MZUT R1734, designated by Fritz & Schmidtler 2020 [cetti]
Holotype: private collection, given as “Sammlung Kramer”, adult male [lanzai]
Holotype: lost, was ZMB (lost fide Fritz & Schmidtler 2020) [corsa]
Holotype: MNHN-RA 3317, collected by Bibron in Sicilia [sicula] 
CommentDistribution: see maps for N. natrix and N. helvetica and their various clades in Kindler et al. 2018. For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013, Asztalos et al. 2021.

Synonymy: see Fritz & Schmidtler 2020 for a detailed synonymy. SCHULTZE et al. 2020 synonymized Natrix helvetica lanzai with N. h. sicula. Schultze et al. also found no evidence for the distinctiveness of the two subspecies from Corsica (N. h. corsa) and Sardinia (N. h. cetti), suggesting their synonymy, but refrained from taxonomic conclusions because of small sample sizes and the endangered status of the Sardinian taxon. Coluber vulgaris Razoumowsky, 1789 becomes a junior secondary homonym of Natrix vulgaris Laurenti, 1768 when transferred to the genus Natrix and thus, according to Articles 57 and 59 of the Code, invalid and does not threaten the usage of Natrix helvetica for the barred grass snake (Fritz et al. 2020).

Subspecies: THORPE (1975) recognized only 4 subspecies: natrix, cetti, corsa, and helvetica (with N. n. natrix to include cypriaca, fusca, gotlandica, persa, schweizeri, scutata, and syriaca and helvetica to include helvetica, astreptophora, lanzai, and sicula). SOCHUREK (1979) suggested to recognize N.n. algirus. Natrix natrix helvetica was sometimes considered as valid species. Kindler et al. 2013, 2017 found many mismatches between morphologically defined taxa and mitochondrial clades (see e.g. Fig. S1 in Kindler et al. 2017), hence the Natrix natrix species complex may be difficult to diagnose morphologically.

Hybridization: In the French Pyrenees region, N. n. astreptophora and N. n. helvetica hybridize occasionally. N. n. astreptophora differs consistently from all other grass snakes by its reddish iris coloration and in having significantly fewer ventral scales and another skull morphology. Natrix natrix helvetica hybridizes very little with N. n. natrix (Kindler et al. 2018) although FRITZ et al. 2012 stated that they “hybridize extensively”. A hybrid zone of N. h. helvetica and N. h. sicula in Italy is wide, with a smooth cline for nuclear markers, supporting their
subspecies status (Schultze et al. 2020).

Genome: the genome of this and the 4 other species of Natrix were sequenced by Schöneberg ert al. 2023.

NCBI taxon ID: 1768100 [helvetica helvetica]
NCBI taxon ID: 1080240 [cetti]
NCBI taxon ID: 1080239 [corsa]
NCBI taxon ID: 1080238 [lanzai] 
EtymologyNamed after helvetica, meaning “Swiss” in Latin (feminine) as a homage to its country of origin of the type specimen.

The subspecies epithet, sicula, comes from Latin (feminine: sicula), meaning Sicilian, a reference to the type species origin. 
  • Asztalos M, Glaw F, Franzen M, Kindler C, Fritz U. 2021. Transalpine dispersal: Italian barred grass snakes in southernmost Bavaria—This far but no further! Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 59(5): 1136–1148.
  • Blosat, B. 1998. Morphometrische und ökologische Feldstudien an Reptilien im Bergischen Land (Nordrhein-Westfalen). II. Ringelnatter, Natrix natrix natrix (LINNAEUS, 1758) und Natrix natrix helvetica (LACEPEDE. 1789). Salamandra 34 (1): 55-68 - get paper here
  • Bruni, Giacomo; Matteo Riccardo Di Nicola 2020. A case of active predation of Natrix helvetica (Serpentes: Colubridae) on Sturnus vulgaris (Passeriformes: Sturnidae). Herpetology Notes 13: 461-462 - get paper here
  • Corti, C., Biaggini, M., Nulchis, V., Cogoni, R., Cossu, I. M., Frau, S., ... & Bassu, L. 2022. Species diversity and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in Sardinia, Italy. Acta Herpetologica, 17(2), 125-133
  • Cuvier, G. J. L. N. F. D. 1829. Le Regne Animal Distribué, d'apres son Organisation, pur servir de base à l'Histoire naturelle des Animaux et d'introduction à l'Anatomie Comparé. Nouvelle Edition [second edition]. Vol. 2. Les Reptiles. Déterville, Paris, i-xvi, 1-406 - get paper here
  • DAWSON, BERNARD & JOHN M.R. BAKER 2020. Behavioural interactions between barred grass snake Natrix helvetica and northern viper Vipera berus. Herpetological Bulletin 154: - get paper here
  • Delaugerre, M., & Cheylan, M. 1992. Atlas de répartition des batraciens et reptiles de Corse. Ajaccio Parc naturel régional de Corse: Ecole pratique des hautes études, 128 pp. - get paper here
  • DI NICOLA, MATTEO R. & THOMAS ZABBIA. 2021. NATRIX HELVETICA (Barred Grass Snake). DIET. Herpetological Review 52 (3): 673–674. - get paper here
  • DI NICOLA, MATTEO RICCARDO 2019. A revised dichotomous key to the snakes of Italy (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes), according to recent systematic updates. Zootaxa 4686 (2): 294–296 - get paper here
  • Fritz, U., Corti, C., & Päckert, M. 2012. Mitochondrial DNA sequences suggest unexpected phylogenetic position of Corso-Sardinian grass snakes (Natrix cetti) and do not support their species status, with notes on phylogeography and subspecies delineation of grass snakes. Organisms Diversity and Evolution, 12(1), 71–80 - get paper here
  • Fritz, U., Razzetti, E., & Schmidtler, J. 2020. The valid scientific names of the barred grass snake and its subspecies from mainland Italy and Sicily. Amphibia-Reptilia 41: 553-558 - get paper here
  • Fritz, U., Schmidtler, J. F. 2020. The Fifth Labour of Heracles: Cleaning the Linnean stable of names for grass snakes (Natrix astreptophora, N. helvetica, N. natrix sensu stricto). Vertebrate Zoology, 70(4): 621-665 - get paper here
  • FRITZ, UWE & CAROLIN KINDLER 2017. A very European tale – Britain still has only three snake species, but its grass snake is now assigned to another species (Natrix helvetica). Herpetological Bulletin (141): - get paper here
  • Gené, J. 1839. Synopsis reptilium Sardiniae indigenoruni. Memorie della Reale Accademia delle Scienze di Torino 1:257—285 - get paper here
  • Hecht,G. 1930. Systematik, Ausbreitungsgeschichte und Ökologie der europäischen Arten der Gattung Tropidonotus (Kuhl) H. Boie. Mitt. zool. Mus. Berlin 16: 244-393 - get paper here
  • Henle, K. 1980. Herpetologische Beobachtungen in der Umgebung Rovinjs (Jugoslawien). Herpetofauna 2 (6): 6-10 - get paper here
  • ICZN 1992. OPINION 1686: Natrix gemonensis LAURENTI, 1768 (currently Coluber gemonensis), Coluber viridiflavus LACÉPÈDE, 1789 and Coluber helveticus LACÉPÈDE, 1789 (currently Natrix natrix helvetica) (Reptilia, Serpentes): specific names conserved. Bull. Zool. Nomenclature 49:174-175. - get paper here
  • Kindler, C., Graciá, E., & Fritz, U. 2018. Extra-Mediterranean glacial refuges in barred and common grass snakes (Natrix helvetica, N. natrix). Scientific Reports, 8(1): 1821 - get paper here
  • Kindler, Carolin; Maxime Chèvre, Sylvain Ursenbacher, Wolfgang Böhme, Axel Hille, Daniel Jablonski, Melita Vamberger & Uwe Fritz 2017. Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species. Scientific Reports 7: 7378;DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-07847-9 - get paper here
  • Kramer, E. 1971. Revalidierte und neue Rassen der europäischen Schlangenfauna. Lav.Soc. ital. Biogeogr., ForlÏ, n.s. 1: 667-678 - get paper here
  • Kühnis, J. B. 2006. Die Reptilien des Fürstentums Liechtenstein. Amtlicher Lehrmittelverlag, Vaduz, Naturkundliche Forschung im Fürstentum Liechtenstein, 23: 1-51 - get paper here
  • Lacepède, B. G. E. 1789. Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupèdes Ovipares et de Serpens. Vol.2. lmprimerie du Roi, Hôtel de Thou, Paris, 671 pp. - get paper here
  • LOCK, MIKAELLA M.G. & RICHARD A. GRIFFITHS. 2022. Detectability of reptiles in standardised surveys: a test using grass snake Natrix helvetica models. Herpetological Journal 32(4): 183–189. - get paper here
  • Lunghi, Enrico, Cristian Mascia, Manuela Mulargia & Claudia Corti 2018. Is the Sardinian grass snake (Natrix natrix cetti) an active hunter in underground environments? (Serpentes, Colubridae). Spixiana 41 (1): 160 - get paper here
  • Lunghi, Enrico; Frank Deschandol, Lorenzo Cornago & Roberto Cogoni 2016. Dark coloration in Sardinian grass snakes (Natrix natrix cetti). Herpetological Bulletin (137) - get paper here
  • Lunghi, Enrico; Simone Giachello, Manuela Mulargia, Pier Paolo Dore, Roberto Cogoni, Claudia Corti 2019. Variability in the dorsal pattern of the Sardinian grass snake (Natrix natrix cetti) with notes on its ecology Acta Herpetologica 14 (2): 141-145 - get paper here
  • Neumann, A., Asztalos, M., Fritz, U., & Glaw, F. 2024. A spotlight on the hybrid zone of grass snakes (Natrix helvetica sicula and Natrix natrix) in southern Bavaria–the Prien Valley. SALAMANDRA, 60(1): 17-28 - get paper here
  • Nigg, A. 1993. Die Reptilien des Fürstentums Liechtenstein mit Roter Liste der gefährdeten und seltenen Reptilien Liechtensteins. Amtlicher Lehrmittelverlag, Vaduz, Naturkundliche Forschung im Fürstentum Liechtenstein, 14: 1-63 - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Paterna, Alessandro 2019. A Case of Hooding (Neck Flattening Defensive Behavior) in the Barred Grass Snake Natrix helvetica [Former Natrix natrix (Linnaeus, 1758)] . Russ. J. Herpetol. 26 (2): 107-110 - get paper here
  • Pawlowski, S. & Krämer, C. 2009. Bemerkungen zur Herpetologie des nordwestlichen Kroatiens. Sauria 31 (4): 19-30 - get paper here
  • ROMANO ANTONIO, GIACOMO ROSA; SEBASTIANO SALVIDIO, RICCARDO NOVAGA & ANDREA COSTA. 2022. How landscape and biotic interactions shape a Mediterranean reptile community. Landscape Ecology 37: 2915–2927. - get paper here
  • Romano, A., Sansone, L., Cacace, A., & Biancolini, D. 2023. Diversity, distribution, habitat preferences and community assemblages of Amphibians and Reptiles in the “Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni” National Park (Campania, Southern Italy). Acta Herpetologica, 18(2), 115-129
  • Rugiero, Lorenzo; Luca Luiselli, Massimo Capula, Fabio Petrozzi, Massimiliano Di Vittorio, Nic Pacini, Leonardo Vignoli, Daniele Dendi, Giuliano Milana, Giovanni Amori & Roger Meek 2020. Snakes and the Eternal City: variation in community metrics, body size and population density of snakes in contrasted landscapes of suburban Rome (Italy). The Herpetological Journal 30: 69-82 - get paper here
  • Schmid, A. 2013. Im Hochsommer nach Sardinien. Reptilia (Münster) 18 (102): 89-93 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, T. 2013. Auf Schlangensuche im Familien-Urlaub. Ein Drama in drei Akten. Reptilia (Münster) 18 (99): 68-75 - get paper here
  • Schöneberg, Y., Winter, S., Arribas, O., Di Nicola, M. R., Master, M., Owens, J. B., Rovatsos M, Wüster W Janke A & Fritz, U. 2023. Genomics reveals broad hybridization in deeply divergent Palearctic grass and water snakes (Natrix spp.). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 107787 - get paper here
  • Schultze N, Laufer H, Kindler C, Fritz U 2019. Distribution and hybridisation of barred and common grass snakes (Natrix helvetica, N. natrix) in Baden-Württemberg, South-western Germany. Herpetozoa 32: 229-236 - get paper here
  • Schultze N, Spitzweg C, Corti C, et al. 2020. Mitochondrial ghost lineages blur phylogeography and taxonomy of Natrix helvetica and N. natrix in Italy and Corsica. Zoologica Scripta 49: 395– 411 - get paper here
  • Schwarzer, U.; Epperlein, C. & Kühnel, K.-D. 1982. Bemerkungen zur Herpetofauna der Toskana, Teil 1: Die Reptilien. Herpetofauna 4 (20): 17-20 - get paper here
  • Sindaco, R.; Alberto Venchi & Cristina Grieco 2013. The Reptiles of the Western Palearctic, Volume 2: Annotated Checklist and Distributional Atlas of the Snakes of Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia, with an Update to Volume 1. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy), 543 pp. - get paper here
  • SINDACO, ROBERTO & EDOARDO RAZZETTI. 2021. An updated check-list of Italian amphibians and reptiles. Natural History Sciences 8(2): 35–46. - get paper here
  • Speybroeck, Jeroen; Wouter Beukema, Christophe Dufresnes, Uwe Fritz, Daniel Jablonski, Petros Lymberakis, Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Edoardo Razzetti, Melita Vamberger, Miguel Vences, Judit Vörös0, Pierre-André Crochet 2020. Species list of the European herpetofauna – 2020 update by the Taxonomic Committee of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica.. Amphibia-Reptilia 41: 139-189 - get paper here
  • Tamagnini, Davide; Jamie Stephenson, Richard P. Brown, Carlo Meloro 2018. Geometric morphometric analyses of sexual dimorphism and allometry in two sympatric snakes: Natrix helvetica (Natricidae) and Vipera berus (Viperidae). Zoology, 129, 25–34 - get paper here
  • THOMAS, OLIVER; STEVEN J. R. ALLAIN & HARRY OWEN 2021. Predation and ingestion of a barred grass snake Natrix helvetica by a rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss in Lot, France. The Herpetological Bulletin (156) - get paper here
  • Thorpe, R.S. 1975. Biometric analysis of incipient speciation in the ringed snake Natrix natrix (L.). Experientia 31: 180-182 - get paper here
  • Thorpe, R.S. 1975. Quantitative handling of characters useful in snake systematics with particular reference to intraspedific variation in the ringed snake Natrix natrix (L.). Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 7 (1): 27-43 - get paper here
  • TREPTE, M. 1993. Kommentkämpfe bei der Barren - Ringelnatter Natrix helvetica LACEPEDE und der Gelbgrünen Zornnatter Coluber viridiflavus viridiflavus LACEPEDE. Sauria 15 (2): 17-19 - get paper here
  • Vanni, S. & Cimmaruta, R. 2010. Natrix cetti Gené, 1839. In C. Corti, M. Capula, L. Luiselli, E. Razzetti, & R. Sindaco (Eds.), Fauna d’Italia, Reptilia. Bologna: Calderoni, pp. 541–547)
  • Vanni, S. & Lanza, B. 1983. Guide per il ricononscimento delle species animali delle acque interne italiane. 27. Anfibi, rettili (Amphibia, Reptilia). Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche Aq 1 (205): 156-185 - get paper here
External links  
Is it interesting? Share with others:

As link to this species use URL address:

without field 'search_param'. Field 'search_param' is used for browsing search result.

Please submit feedback about this entry to the curator