All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
 It’s the fall of 2001 and my brother Ron and I are in Hungary to visit relatives.  We spend a few days in a town on the shores of Lake Balaton, a large freshwater lake about 60 miles southwest of Budapest.  The weather has been cold and nasty, getting down to the upper 30s at night, and barely reaching 50 during the gray rainy days.  On our last morning the sun finally arrives so we take a stroll along a rocky pier that juts into the lake.  As we walk past fishermen sitting on the rocks I stop and do a double-take.  The last thing I expect to see is a snake!  First of all, it’s been cold, so I assume anything herp-like is fast asleep, and second, this is Hungary.  Storks I expect, snakes I do not.   I can tell it’s some kind of Natrix, so I carefully sneak up on it and pounce (you know how skittish water snakes can be, diving at the drop of a footfall).  Nothing.  It just sits there in my hand, making no attempt to strike, or to even get away.  Guess he’s cold, but it seems awful risky to me to be out in the sun fully exposed with storks about, and not even have the reflexes to drop and roll.  But I’m not complaining; I just caught a snake where and when I least expected it!   I call Ron to come quickly so he can appreciate this rare catch.  As he runs over he shouts, "Here's another one!"  He reaches down, and now we have two.   We then notice that absolutely no one else on the pier is paying any attention to two giggling Americans holding a pair of snakes.  Old ladies, little kids, young couples are all strolling by, completely ignoring the strangers with snakes who are standing right in the middle of them.  I don't know about you, but whenever I've caught something in the company of spectators, somebody always stops to stare (or run).  We assume they are just being polite.  We’re taking pictures and congratulating ourselves for making such good spots, when my wife Karyn says, "Hey, guys, here's a bunch more."  She points to a crevice, and there is a mess of wriggling bodies, squirming like worms caught in a vice.   Ron sees another, then I see one, then Karyn sees more.  Some are crawling, some are basking, some are massed with bunkmates.  Going in holes, coming out of holes.  We walk the length of the pier and declare ourselves bored when the count gets somewhere over 30 in the space of 100 yards.  Now we understand why no one paid attention; with snakes as common as sparrows, what's to look at?   P.S.  The snakes were indeed a European species of water snake, commonly known in English as the Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata).   
INCIDENTAL HERPS
Found When Not Herping
 2 of 2
INCIDENTAL HERPS
Found When Not Herping
 2 of 2