From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Natrix natrix persa3.jpg
Natrix natrix
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Natricinae
Genus: Natrix
Laurenti, 1768
Type species
Natrix natrix

Natrix is a genus of Old World snakes found across Eurasia (Although Natrix tessellata can be found in Egypt and Natrix natrix can be found in other parts of Northern Africa) in the subfamily Natricinae of the family Colubridae.

Common names[edit]

Member species of the genus Natrix are collectively called grass snakes and water snakes, but some other snake species also known commonly as "grass snakes" and "water snakes" are not in the genus.


The genus Natrix contains these species, five of which are recognized as being valid, and one of which is disputed:[1]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
BennyTrapp Natrix astreptophora.jpg Natrix astreptophora (Seoane, 1885) Iberian grass snake[2] Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal.)
BennyTrapp Natrix helvetica.jpg Natrix helvetica (Lacépède, 1789) barred grass snake[3] Western Europe including the UK.
Natrix maura (cropped).jpg Natrix maura (Linnaeus, 1758) viperine water snake [4] Portugal, Spain, France, northernwest Italy, and even into Switzerland.
Natrix megalocephala 01.JPG Natrix megalocephala Orlov & B. Tuniyev, 1987 large-headed water snake[5] Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, and Turkey.
2017.07.17.-17-Tiefer See oder Grubensee-Storkow (Mark)--Ringelnatter.jpg Natrix natrix (Linnaeus, 1758) grass snake [4] mainland Europe, ranging from mid Scandinavia to southern Italy. It is also found in the Middle East and northwestern Africa.
Würfelnatter Natrix tessellata.jpg Natrix tessellata (Laurenti, 1768) dice snake [4] All across Eurasia. The species is also present in Egypt.

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Natrix.


Natrix is classical Latin for a water snake. The word comes from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning "snake", with cognates in the Celtic and Germanic languages, the latter including the English adder. It was probably influenced through folk etymology by the Latin nare and natare meaning "swim";[6][7] it appears to be a grammatically feminine word for "swimmer".


The refuge of a widely distributed Western European lineage regarding the barred grass snake commonly known as Natrix helvetica was most likely located in southern France and outside the classical refuges in the southern European peninsulas. One genetic lineage of the common grass snake (N. natrix) is also distributed in Scandinavia, Central Europe, and the Balkan Peninsula.[8]


  1. ^ Genus Natrix at The Reptile Database.
  2. ^ de Lazaro, Enrico (February 23, 2016). "Iberian Grass Snake: Cryptic New Species of Snake Identified".
  3. ^ "New snake species identified in the UK". BBC News. 7 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Natrix Laurenti, 1768". Encyclopedia of Life.
  5. ^ Kasparek, Max (7 October 2005). "Taxonomic status of Natrix megalocephala". Strasbourg: Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Archived from the original on 11 August 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  6. ^ "adder, n.1". OED Online. Oxford University Press. March 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  7. ^ "adder". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  8. ^ Kindler, Carolin; Graciá, Eva; Fritz, Uwe (29 January 2018). "Extra-Mediterranean glacial refuges in barred and common grass snakes (Natrix helvetica , N. natrix)". Scientific Reports. 8 (1): 1821. Bibcode:2018NatSR...8.1821K. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-20218-2. PMC 5788984. PMID 29379101.

Further reading[edit]

  • Laurenti JN (1768). Specimen medicum, exhibens synopsin reptilium emendatam cum experimentis circa venena et antidota reptilium austriacorum. Vienna: "Joan. Thom. Nob. de Trattnern". 214 pp. + Plates I-V. (Natrix, new genus, p. 73). (in Latin).