SNAKES – the misunderstood

It’s that time of year again when you’re likely to encounter these reptiles of the suborder Serpentes. As it happens, I am researching with a view to writing a book on this subject. Should be published by next year.

None of them are dangerous unless provoked.  If you’re worried, buy a first aid kit from the pharmacy for 14 euros just in case. It has everything you need to stop the venom from travelling, then get to the Health Centre.

Of the Colubridae Rat Snake family we have two types on Skopelos; Leopard (Elephe situla) Spitofido and Four lined (Lafiatis). They are the largest and grow up to 2 meters. Beautifully coloured. Seldom hiss and are calm. The 4 Lined are excellent climbers and swimmers. Some tourists can vouch for the former. One recently came ashore at Panormos, made its way along the beach then went back into the sea. They eat small mammals, birds and lizards. Non venomous.

Eastern Montpellier Malpolon insignitus  ( Sapethis or Savrofido). They grow up to 2 meters. Mildly venomous rear-fanged. Variable colours (green, black, grey, green) depending upon juveniles or adults/male or female. Feeds mainly on lizards, rodents, birds, amphibians and other snakes. It will defend strongly if threatened by hissing loudly, raising its head, flattening the neck and pretending to attack. It will bite if caught. Pain, swelling and maybe fever are symptoms that may occur that usually relent in a few hours.

Large Whip Snake – possibly Hierophis jungularis (Dendrogalia) Whilst they don’t usually occur on the same island as the Four Lined snake, it is believed they are here. The common black snake. One of the longest reaching sometimes up to 300cm. Very swift. Non poisonous.

Nose-horned Viper (Oxia). It has connecting brown spots, surrounded by black. Body grey.  When disturbed they hiss loudly. Highly venomous. Image by Costas Andreou.

2 Responses

  1. Angela Schnaderbeck

    I have recently bought an abandoned house in a remote part of Skopelos where my partner and myself have been living in a big yurt style tent while renovating the house. Tonight we had our first visitor as we were awoken by a rustling sound and found a huge snake in the tent.
    Not knowing which type it was we were quite alarmed. I think it was a rat snake….
    Is there anyone that could help us identify it.
    I made a photo of it.

    • Heather Parsons

      Yes. I can. Please WhatsApp me the photo. If it’s big, it’s likely to be a rat snake; four lined probably.

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