I have heard the term 'Otter' and the term 'Viper' used to refer to the snake, but I have yet to see which is more used in the common tongue.

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    These are completely different kind of animal species categories? They are used as applying well to distinguish the one from the other, and not arbitrarily interchangeable at all . – πάντα ῥεῖ Nov 21 '18 at 19:42
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    @πάνταῥεῖ Ottern sind biologisch eine Unterklasse der Vipern (z.B. Kreuzotter) und nicht nur der schwimmende Marder. – tofro Nov 21 '18 at 20:33
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    @tofro "used to refer to the snake" Der schwimmende Marder, fällt ganz gewiss nicht in diese Kategorie, sorry. – πάντα ῥεῖ Nov 21 '18 at 20:44
  • @πάνταῥεῖ Dein Kommentar hörte sich so an, als ob du das meintest. Dann is ja gut. – tofro Nov 21 '18 at 20:54
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    So the question should be corrected to "used to refer to some kinds of snakes", not "the snake", which is overwhelming often referred to as "Schlange". To me, it is unclear, whether only the single words "Otter" and "Viper" shall be compared, or combinations like "Kreuzotter" too. – user unknown Nov 22 '18 at 4:29

There aren't too many snakes in German speaking countries. The most common ones are

  • die Kreuzotter (Vipera berus) – most known local snake
  • die Aspisviper (Vipera aspis)
  • die Äskulapnatter (Elaphe longissima)
  • die Würfelnatter (Natrix tessellata)
  • die Ringelnatter (Natrix natrix) – second most known local snake
  • die Schlingnatter (Coronella austriaca)


  • die Blindschleiche (Anguis fragilis), but that's not a snake – it just looks like one on first sight.

Exotic snakes are named unpredictably, but most likely as -viper rather than -otter if that matches. Die Kreuzotter would simply win for occurrences in German texts because it's the best known local snake.

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    I'd like to see a reference for the claim that the Kreuzotter is the best known snake. – Stephie Nov 22 '18 at 17:27
  • Go ahead. I'd written it's the best known local snake. Because it's the only poisonous one we have. – Janka Nov 22 '18 at 18:38
  • Indeed, we learn about Kreuzotter in school. And maybe no other snake at all – npst Nov 27 '18 at 10:30

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