Skip to content




    Barred grass snake (prime) and feminine widespread adder (backside); can these
    two species, very separate taxonomically, not solely mate but in addition produce viable
    hybrid offspring? (public area/public area)

    In England, the 2 most typical
    species of snake are the barred grass or ringed snake Natrix helvetica (typically referred to in southern England merely as
    the snake) and the European viper or widespread adder Vipera berus. Belonging as they do to 2 completely separate, solely
    distantly associated taxonomic households (Colubridae and Viperidae respectively),
    it’s hardly doubtless that these two snakes would ever come collectively even to
    mate, not to mention produce viable hybrid offspring.

    But there’s a longstanding
    perception emanating from southern England’s very sizeable New Forest that such
    crossbreeds can and do happen. In line with H.M. Livens’s e-book Nomansland: A Village Historical past (1910),
    for example:

    It’s affirmed all through the [New]
    Forest that there’s a informal hybrid between the [grass] snake and the adder,
    which, in consequence of being neither adder nor [grass] snake, is named a Neither (pronounced nither). In color
    it varies between these of its dad and mom, generally exhibiting a higher leaning to
    the one aspect, and generally to the opposite. In its proportions it runs nearer to
    the adder than to the [grass] snake, being about 18 inches lengthy; that’s,
    quite longer than an adder however not fairly so stout. The Neither is normally
    discovered on or close to damp floor concerning the head of a lavatory. When attacked it is going to
    chew the stick as an adder does. A [grass] snake won’t do that. Its chew is
    mentioned to be venomous. It’s not identified to breed.

    Heathland on Picket Hill, New
    Forest, Hampshire (© Richard New Forest/Wikipedia –
    CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

    New Forest can also be residence to Britain’s third, rarest, and least-known native
    species of snake, the graceful snake Coronella
    . But, oddly, it’s talked about solely very briefly, in passing, by
    Livens, claiming that it’s uncommon right here, when in actuality it’s discovered all through
    the New Forest’s extent. Furthermore, its barred markings are harking back to each
    the grass snake’s and the adder’s, however it’s so shy as to be seldom seen and
    stays very a lot a mysterious, enigmatic serpent right here.

    I believe it extremely doubtless that the graceful snake is the true id of Livens’s
    alleged grass snake x adder hybrid, the neither. Even its favoured habitat of damp
    heath and lavatory compares nicely with that of the neither, as does its well-known
    predilection for biting if antagonised or captured. True, the graceful snake is
    not venomous, however many non-venomous animal species are wrongly deemed to be
    via native superstition or ignorance, particularly if, like the graceful snake,
    they’re rarely-seen, elusive creatures – which might additionally clarify why the neither
    isn’t identified to breed.

    In brief, it might appear that the neither is an inconceivable snake
    rendered attainable in any case.

    Is the implausible neither in
    actuality the extremely elusive, mysterious easy snake? (© Piet Spaans/Wikipedia –
    CC BY 2.5 licence)