Do you want to learn about the snakes that live in Cyprus?
If so, you’ve come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the most common snakes you can expect to see. Then, for each species, you will find out how to identify that snake correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!
You’ll see that the snakes that live in Cyprus are very different from each other. They range from venomous species to snakes that use constriction to immobilize their prey. In addition, certain snakes are common to find living around people.
3 COMMON snakes that live in Cyprus:
#1. Large Whip Snake
- Dolichophis jugularis
Also known as Fire Snake, Black Whipsnake, Persian Large Whip Snake, Green Whip Snake, and European Whip Snake.
- Adults are 160-200 cm (63-79 in) long on average.
- They have small heads and large black eyes with rounded pupils.
- Their coloring is shiny black with white bellies, and their lips and throats have a reddish tint.
The Large Whip Snake frequents open grasslands and meadows in Cyprus. It enjoys basking in the sun when it’s not looking for food.
Despite their size, Large Whip Snakes are agile enough to climb bushes. Their speed proves useful when catching birds, frogs, and other reptiles. Curiously, they will even eat snakes of the same species!
These highly alert snakes will flee upon sensing danger. However, a Large Whip Snake can become aggressive and quickly strike if cornered. Its painful bite is laden with mildly toxic saliva, causing numbness and swelling. Thankfully, it doesn’t do more damage than that.
#2. Levantine Viper
- Macrovipera lebetinus
Also known as West-Asian Blunt-nosed Viper, Levantine Adder, Lebanese Viper, Mountain Viper, Coffin Snake.
- Adults grow up to 150 cm (59 in) long.
- They have flat, broad, triangular heads with blunt snouts.
- Their coloring is gray, beige, or khaki, with brown or bluish blotches and stripes along the body.
Levantine Vipers are nocturnal residents of rocky hills, shrublands, and mountain valleys. When the sun is out, you might spot one resting in the shade of trees. In winter, they hibernate in groups to conserve heat, but they hunt alone for the rest of the year.
These vipers are ambush predators that lurk near water sources. Though they move sluggishly, they are deceptively fast when striking. Adults feed on lizards, birds, and rats. Young ones, on the other hand, prefer insects.
Bite incidents from Levantine Vipers are relatively common because they frequent urban areas with dense human populations. Symptoms include abdominal pain and blistering around the bite area. In severe cases, victims can die from internal bleeding. Seek immediate medical assistance if you get bitten.
#3. Grass Snake
- Natrix natrix
Also known as Ringed Snake or Water Snake.
- Adults can grow up to 150 cm (59 inches) long.
- Coloration is usually olive-green, brown, or gray with rows of black spots on the back and a row of black bars or spots on the sides.
- They have a characteristic black-bordered yellow collar behind the head.
This species is one of the most common snakes in Cyprus!
Since they are strong swimmers, look for them near wet areas, such as ponds, lakes, streams, ditches, and marshes. However, you’re also likely to find a Grass Snake in drier habitats, such as backyard gardens, open woodlands, and grasslands.
They are NOT venomous and rarely bite when captured or threatened. Instead, you can expect them to hiss and spray a smelly substance called musk from their anal glands. If this doesn’t work, they may pretend to be dead, flipping over and letting their tongue hang out of their mouth. Interestingly, Grass Snakes sometimes act like cobras, where they raise the front of their body and flatten their heads to resemble a hood! They use this mimicry as a way to intimidate predators.
Grass Snakes mostly eat amphibians, such as frogs and toads. They are not ambush predators and actively search for their prey using their keen eyesight and sense of smell. In addition, they eat their prey alive instead of killing it first by constriction.
Do you want to learn about other animals in Cyprus?
If so, check out these guides!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Cyprus?
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