Snakes of Cyprus

Please note, that although I have gone to great lengths to ensure the information on this page is correct, I cannot guarantee it.

Cyprus Snake : The blunt-nosed viper The blunt-nosed viper (Vipera Lebetina)

RISK: High, Dangerous and highly poisonous. Its teeth remain embedded in the tissue and the movements of the jaw pump large amounts of poison into the wound. If bitten it is imperative that medical attention is sought from a Doctor or Hospital immediately.

Identification: A stout snake with a total length up to 130-180 cm, the most stout and dangerous snake species of Cyprus. Top of the head covered with small, keeled scales, including over the eyes. Pupils vertical; the ring of scales around the eyes consists of 14-18 scales. Usually 3, rarely 2 rows of scales between eyes and supralabials. 10 supralabials, sometimes 9 or 11. 25, rarely 27 rows of keeled dorsal scales at mid-body. Ventrals and subcaudals between 155-180 and 35-58 respectively. The dorsum is gray or dun-brown, usually with distinct large blackish maculations, which are sometimes two pieced (horn-like), and their edges surrounded with dun-coloured bands, their middles brick-red. Temporal stripes faded; a row of dark maculations on flanks. The venter is slightly pinkish-yellow or white, with black spots.

Habitat & Biology: Frequents flat meadows or pastures without trees and rocky places; seen also in ruins, cultivated fields and gardens. Largely nocturnal, feeds on small rodents, birds, lizards and snakes; swallowing its prey after striking and killing it. A poisonous species with a venom which may be dangerous to man, or fatal if not treated, but does not strike if not disturbed. The ovoviviparous females give birth to 5-7 young.

 

Cyprus Snake : The blunt-nosed viper
Cyprus Snake : The blunt-nosed viper
Cyprus Snake : The Montpellier snake The Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

RISK: Moderate. Bite can cause localized bleeding, radiating pain, swelling, muscle spasms, slight nausea and a headache. If bitten it is important that medical attention is sought from a Doctor or Hospital.

Identification: A slender bodied narrow headed snake with a total length up to 200 cm. Eyes large, with a longitudinal depression or groove between them. A single preocular; 2, rarely 3 postoculars; 8, sometimes 9 supralabials. 17 or 19 rows of slightly grooved dorsal scales at mid-body. Ventrals and subcaudals between 155-190 and 67-102, respectively. The dorsum of adults greenish-gray brown and without maculations; in young, gray or brown, with small blackish blotches, the edges of which are lined in white. The venter is whitish or yellowish-white, with black or gray spots. It makes chewing motions when annoyed

Habitat & Biology: Prefers open, sparsely vegetated, rocky and dry habitats, also seen around irrigation ditches in gardens. Feeds on lizards, small mammals and birds. Prey animals are killed within minutes by its venom, however its fangs are small and at back of upper jaw, so not very effective on humans, but still can produce numbing, stiffness and swelling. A female lays 4-12 eggs.

 

Cyprus Snake : The Montpellier snake
Cyprus Snake : The Montpellier snake
Cyprus Snake : The Cat Snake The Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax)

RISK: Low to Moderate. Semi-venomous, unlikely to be dangerous to man, but it is a venomous snake and if bitten medical advice should be sought.

Identification: A slender necked and broad headed snake with a total length up to 70-80 cm. Eyes small, with vertical pupils. A single preocular; 2 postoculars, rarely I or 3; 8 supralabials, sometimes 7 or 9. 19, rarely 21 rows of smooth dorsal scales at mid-body. Ventrals and subcaudals between 169-243 and 47-78 respectively. The dorsum is gray brown with black maculations, which become faded towards the posterior of body. A dark temporal stripe present. A row of maculations also on flanks. The venter is yellowish-white, with dun-coloured marblings.

Habitat & Biology: Prefers stony areas, sunny rocky slopes, sandy places with bushy plant cover adjacent to roads and ruins. Feeds on lizards and small mammals. Forages at dawn and dusk, killing its prey with venom, then swallowing. Has fangs at back of upper jaw, so not dangerous to man. A female lays 7-8 eggs.

 

Cyprus Snake : The Cat Snake
Cyprus Snake : The Cat Snake
Cyprus Snake : The Large Whip-Snake The Large Whip-Snake (Coluber jugularis)

RISK: Low, A Constrictor, although it will still bite hard and they chew and chew leaving a serious wound, that will not heal for a long time Not dangerous to humans.

Identification: Head well defined; total length up to 300 cm, being the longest snake of Cyprus. Pupils round. Usually 2 preoculars, the upper one bigger; usually 2, rarely 3 postoculars; usually 8, rarely 7 supralabials. 19 rows of smooth dorsal scales at mid-body. Ventrals and subcaudals between 189-215 and 99-128 respectively. The dorsum of young gray brown with dun-coloured and black maculations, in adults bright black. Under of head in adults yellowish-red, without maculations. The venter is red with roundish black markings. In young the venter is yellowish-white, with blackish markings only at the edges.

Habitat & Biology: Lives in dry, open places, meadows, rocky river banks, rocky-stony slopes, fields and swamps; can also be seen in gardens, vineyards and cemeteries. Hides under stones and in rodent galleries. Feeds on rodents, birds, chicks and lizards; sometimes even on other snakes. Not poisonous, but bites readily. Usually does not retreat and tries to defend itself by producing a hissing sound. A female lays 7-11 eggs. Quite useful in agricultural pest control, consuming crop-harming rodents.

 

Cyprus Snake : The Large Whip-Snake
Cyprus Snake : The Large Whip-Snake
Cyprus Snake : The Cyprus Whip-Snake The Cyprus Whip-Snake (Coluber cypriensis)

Risk: Low. Not dangerous to humans, although bite can be painful

Identification: Head well defined, it has a long and slender body reaching in length up to 110 cm. It is an endemic and apparently uncommon species from Cyprus. Generally resembles juveniles of the Large Whip Snake, Coluber jugularis. Usually 2 preoculars, the upper one bigger; usually 2 postoculars; usually 8 supralabials; typically 17 rows of smooth dorsal scales at mid-body. Ventrals and subcaudals vary between 202-204 and 124-132, respectively. The dorsum is black, dark brown or olive-brown with dun-coloured and black maculations, and also a well-defined white ring around the eyes.

Habitat & Biology: This snake species was identified recently and therefore, little information is known about its habitat. It prefers rocky areas covered with vegetation, is a diurnal species and feeds mainly on lizards. It has a relatively large mouth with small sharp teeth without venom. The Budakís Snake-eyed Skink, Ablepharus budaki GŲÁmen et al., 1996 is an appropriate pray for this species. Judging from its body, it must be a good climber.

 

Cyprus Snake : The Cyprus Whip-Snake
 
Cyprus Snake : The Pink Worm Snake The Pink Worm Snake (Typhlops_vermicularis)

Risk: Low. Not dangerous to humans.

Identification: A slender snake rather like an earthworm. Head inconspicuous, not easily distinguishable from the tail; mouth subterminal; very short tail wide as long, with a small spine at tip. Eyes underneath scales, visible as two small black dots; Rostral plate approximately 1/3 of the head width, reaching up to the level of eyes on top of head; nasal partly divided; preocular present; 4 supralabials. Dorsal and ventral scales quite similar and cycloid shaped, in 21-24 rows around body, a dark spot at the posterior edge of each scale. Total length of the cylindrical snake around 25-35 cm, diameter may up to be 1 cm. The dorsum is pinkish or yellowish-brown; the venter yellowish.

Habitat & Biology: Mainly subterranean, inhabits damp soils or found under stones, fossorially preys on insect larvae and ants. When handled, tries to sting with the small spine at the end of its tail. No detailed data on its breeding biology, a female lays 4-8 eggs.

 

Cyprus Snake : The Pink Worm Snake
Cyprus Snake : The Pink Worm Snake
Cyprus Snake : Dahlís Whip Snake Dahlís Whip Snake (Coluber najadum)

Risk: Low

Identification: A slender snake with a total length up to 140 cm. Eyes large, with round pupils. 2 preoculars, rarely 1 or 3; 2 postoculars; usually 8, sometimes 9 or 7 supralabials. Usually 19, rarely 17 rows of smooth dorsal scales at mid-body. Ventrals and subcaudals between 200-236 and 100-140, respectively. The dorsum is gray or bluish-brown anteriorly, yellowish or reddish-brown posteriorly. Sides of neck with a row of roundish black markings, the rims of which are lighter coloured; these get smaller posteriorly and disappear before reaching the body. The front and back edges of the eyes are surrounded with a thin yellowish band. The venter is immaculate, yellowish-white.

Habitat & Biology: Usually found in dry, stony and bushy places; also seen in gardens, at the edges of cultivated fields and quite near to houses. Can climb on bushes and trees. Feeds on lizards and insects. Very quick moving, keeps anterior part of its body above ground while speeding along, hence nicknamed as ďarrow snakeĒ. A poisonless diurnal species, females of which lay 3-5 eggs.

 

Cyprus Snake : Dahlís Whip Snake
Cyprus Snake : Dahlís Whip Snake
Cyprus Snake : The Grass Snake The Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)

Risk: Low. Not dangerous to humans.

Identification: A distinctly slender necked snake, with a total length up to 150 cm. A single preocular, rarely 2; 3 postoculars, rarely 2 or 4; 7 supralabials, rarely 6 or 8. Usually 19, rarely 17 or 18 rows of keeled dorsal scales at mid-body. Ventrals and subcaudals between 162-184 and 50-80, respectively. The dorsum is gray or buff-brown, rarely black. Over this ground colouration, usually two light coloured longitudinal lines present, but sometimes not distinct or absent. Between and lateral to these lines, black blotches are seen. Yellow half-moons usually distinct at posterolaterals of head. A row of black markings on flanks. The venter is yellowish-white, more or less with black markings.

Habitat & Biology: Prefers grasslands and rocky-stony places close to a water body; also seen in calm waters or streams, in gardens and cultivated fields, barns or houses. When handled does not bite, but secretes an evil smelling liquid from anal gland; sometimes plays dead, lying on back with mouth open. Feeds on frogs and toads, small fish and rodents. A female lays 6-13 eggs, sometimes a lot of eggs are laid in the same nest by more than a few females.

 

Cyprus Snake : The Grass Snake
Cyprus Snake : The Grass Snake
Cyprus Snake : The Ravergier`s Whip Snake The Ravergier`s Whip Snake (Coluber ravergieri)
Also Known as the Coin snake (Coluber nummifer)

RISK: Low. Bite can cause localized bleeding, discoloration, pain. Not dangerous to humans.

Identification: Head large and distinct; total length up to 140 cm. Pupils round. Usually 3 preoculars; usually 2, sometimes 3 and rarely 4 postoculars; usually 9, sometimes 8 or 10 supralabials. 23-25 rows of keeled dorsal scales at mid-body. Ventrals and subcaudals between 196-214 and 79-89 respectively. The dorsum is yellowish or gray brown, usually with roundish dun-coloured maculations, which sometimes join together. Dark markings on top and sides of head. Flanks with two rows of dark blotches. Dorsal and lateral markings form stripes or lines on tail. The venter is yellowish-white with blackish spots.

Habitat & Biology: Prefers rocky areas with scanty vegetation. Usually feeds on lizards, small mammals, birds and chicks; also on gekkonids, occurring at the cearthen roofed houses. A quick moving and readily biting species, but poisonless. A female lays 5-10 eggs.
Cyprus Snake : The Ravergier`s Whip Snake
Cyprus Snake : The Ravergier`s Whip Snake

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