Yesterday the Juniorette and I went for a bike ride to the lakes at Burgeln. The lakes are rather nice as they are quite well hidden, and therefore offer quite a haven for wildlife. We saw Swans, Grebes, various ducks, lots of frogs and a snake. We only saw the last 30cm of its tail as it slithered off into the bushes, but it was a dark brown in colour and I guess it was hunting frogs as it was near the waters edge. As I now know, there are 6 native species of snakes in Germany, some poisonous, and some not, but to make identification really tricky they all seem to have colour variations ranging from light brown to almost black. But apparently the best way to tell if the snake is poisonous or not, is to get a good look at its eyes. If they have round pupils, then the snake is not poisonous. If they have slit pupils then it is poisonous - But how friggin close do you have to get to see the difference!
But like most animals, they are probably more scared of us than we are of them, unless that is if you upset them. The problem is actually knowing what upsets them. I faced a similar situation many years ago whilst diving off Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. It was my first Reef Shark encounter, which was very exciting, but unfortunately it became a bit too exciting as the shark swam agitatedly and became more aggressive. Yep, we had upset it, and it took us a while to realise what we had done. A couple of bleeding fish in the catch bag for the evening's barbeque had definitely upset it. We dropped the bag and proceeded to swim to the shore without Jaws in tow.
So next time we go to the lakes, we will keep a good look out for snakes. If we see one we will definitely try and look it in the eye, and figure out how not to upset it.