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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Dahlís Whip Snake (Coluber najadum)
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.
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
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.
|In Cyprus and feeling
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