Natrix tessellata

Natrix tessellata LAURENTI 1768

Common Names

Diced Water Snake (English), ثعبان الماء (Arabic)

Languages: English



A medium to large, slender snake. Largest Egyptian specimen has a total length of 900 mm. Tail relatively short, tail / total length = 0.17-0.18; nostril large, round, in a divided nasal; 1 loreal, 8 supralabials, fourth enters the eye, 160-197 ventrals, 48-86 paired subcaudals, dorsals strongly keeled, 19 scale rows around mid-body, anal divided. Dorsum dark green-olive, with a pattern of regularly spaced black spots; a black chevron on the nape. Venter yellow, variably chequered with black squares, or is sometimes almost completely black.


Conservation Status

Least Concern

Status in Egypt

Common and widespread. Large numbers are collected by animal traders.



 In Egypt appears to be largely crepuscular or nocturnal, but also seen active during the day. Almost entirely aquatic.

Ecology and Distribution

Global Distribution

Central Europe east to western China, south to Egypt and possibly Yemen.

Distribution in Egypt

Throughout the Nile Delta and lower Nile Valley, also Fayoum and the Suez Canal zone. Anderson (1898), Flower (1933), and Marx (1968) all recorded the species solely from the northern parts of the Delta. However, it appears that since the con­struction of the High Dam (late 1960s) and as a result of subsequent ecological changes (establishment of extensive swamp vegetation fringing the Nile River), the species seems to have spread southward, along with other wetland wildlife previously also confined to the northern Delta wetlands, most notably the Purple Gallinule {Porphiryo porphiryo: Aves). A specimen reported by Barbour (1914) from "Fuweila in Sinai," is actually a locality in Jordan (Hoofien 1965).


Freshwater wetlands of all kinds, rivers, canals, swamps, and lake shores. Particularly common in waterways fringed with dense reeds and other swamp vegetation.


S., Baha El Din. (2006).  A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt, The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo..