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Rules of behaviour when encountering snakes

Please observe the following rules of behavious when encountering snakes.

While Switzerland is home to many snake species, you probably won't find the two poisonous species asp viper (vipera aspis) and adder (vipera berus) in the Swiss Central Plateau. They prefer the sunny mountain slopes of the Jura Mountains and the Alps. While their population is shrinking and in some region even is on the brink of extinction, both species may be quite common in some places.

Therefore, an encounter with a poisonous snake in its preferred terrain is not unusual. Especially those who work or travel outdoors should observe the below mentioned rules:

Be careful, no matter what snake species you are encountering. From a distance, it is almost impossible to tell poisonous from non-poisonous snakes. As they have different hues and patterings,  poisonous and non-poisonous species may look alike from further away.

Rules of behavious as precautions

  • Do not walk barefoot in unclear terrain; wear suitable shoes and long pants (children, too, should wear no shorts)
  • Do not let children play in unclear locations and explain to them that snakes can be dangerous when people get too close or bother them.
  • Do not touch it and do not bother it; make sure that the snake notices you and thus has time to retreat. If it stays where it is, walk past it while keeping a distance of approx. 2 metres.
  • Before using a rest area, search it for snakes first.
  • Do not reach with your hands into bushes or undergrowth; berry and mushroom pickers should tap it with sticks first, in order to make snakes retreat that may hide there.
  • Be careful when placing your hands on unclear areas such as wood stacks, dry walls of piles of stones.
  • When lifting stones or wooden boards, keep in mind that snake may hide under them.
  • Do not sleep on the ground in areas populated by snakes; always use a tent or a cot.
  • When collecting wood in the night, always use a flashlight.
  • Have you seen a snake around your house? Then you should remove all possible hiding places and make the area clear with short-cut grass, no undergrowth, no piles of stones or leaves, scattered boards, sheet metal plates or eternit panels. If possible, choose a shady place for your wood stacks, as snakes prefer warm and sunny hiding places.