The 27 Types of Snakes That Live in Europe! (ID Guide)

Do you want to learn about the types of snakes found in Europe?

common types of snakes

If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the snakes you can expect to see. 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 Europe 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. My guess is that you have seen at least one of the snakes below in your yard. 🙂

 

Here are the 27 types of snakes that live in Europe:

 


#1. Smooth Snake

  • Coronella austriaca

smooth snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow between 60 cm – 75 cm (23.5 – 29.5 inches) long.
  • On the top of the head is a dark marking which is often in the shape of a crown.
  • Usually dark brown or gray in color. Two rows of indistinct dark spots run down its back.
  • As the name suggests, the scales of Smooth Snakes are very smooth and flat to the touch.

 

These small and slender snakes can be hard to find in Europe because they are secretive.

 

Even when Smooth Snakes bask in the sun, they intertwine amongst plants to keep camouflaged. They are sometimes found after rain showers when individuals must leave their hiding places to escape the water and bask more openly.

Smooth Snake Range Map

Their primary prey is other reptiles, such as small lizards. But they will eat small mammals and birds occasionally. When threatened, they try to remain motionless and undetected, but Smooth Snakes won’t hesitate to bite when captured.

 

Interestingly, Smooth Snakes are ovoviviparous. This term means that the eggs are incubated internally, and they give birth to live young!

 


#2. Adder

  • Vipera berus

adder

Also known as the Common European Adder / Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults average around 55 cm (22 in) long.
  • Color varies and can be brown, red, or light grey with a zigzag stripe on the back. But some individuals are entirely black.
  • The head is fairly large and distinct and has a distinctive dark V or X on the back.

 

Despite being venomous, Adders are not considered an incredibly dangerous snake in Europe.

 

Luckily, they are not very aggressive and rarely bite unless stepped on, picked up, or provoked. If you are bitten, their venom is quite painful and causes swelling, internal hemorrhaging, and necrosis. While the venom can be lethal, deaths are incredibly rare.

Adder Range Map

Adders are found in many habitats, such as forest clearings, marshlands, heathlands, pastures with hedgerows, and even alpine meadows in the Alps. They mostly eat small mammals, but lizards, birds, and frogs are taken when available.

 

Because of their large distribution and a broad range of habitats, the population of Adders is currently not threatened. But their numbers are decreasing slightly due to habitat loss for agriculture and collecting them for the pet trade and venom extraction.

 


#3. Grass Snake

  • Natrix natrix

grass snake

Also commonly called the Ringed Snake or Water Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can grow up to 150 cm (59 inches) long.
  • Coloration is usually olive-green, brown, or greyish.
  • 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 Europe!

 

Being strong swimmers, look for them near wet areas, such as ponds, lakes, streams, ditches, and marshes. But it’s not surprising to find a Grass Snake in drier habitats, such as backyard gardens, open woodlands, and grasslands.

Grass Snake Range Map

grass snake range map

They are NOT venomous and rarely bite when captured or threatened. Instead, you can expect them to hiss and spray a smelly substance 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 a cobra, where they raise the front of their body and flatten their heads to resemble a hood!

 

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 without the use of constriction. 

 


#4. Aesculapian Snake

  • Zamenis longissimus

aescuplupian snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A long and slender snake that grows up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) in length.
  • It is typically a dark bronze color with very smooth scales, which give it a metallic sheen. But adults can also be olive-yellow, brownish-green, or almost black.
  • White freckles appear on the body of many individuals.

 

The best place to look for Aesculapian Snakes in Europe is humid forests.

 

Make sure to look up because they are excellent climbers, having no problem ascending vertical tree trunks without branches. They don’t try to avoid humans, and they are sometimes found in sheds, gardens, and stonewalls.

Aesculapian Snake Range Map

Their main food source comes from small rodents, but they will eat birds and their eggs when given the chance. Being constrictors, they suffocate their prey before consuming it.

 

Despite being fairly common, Aescuplapian Snakes are rarely seen due to their secretive nature. They blend in well with their surroundings, in addition to spending lots of their time in tree canopies. When they are found, they first try to sneak away to hide instead of standing their ground aggressively like other types of snakes.

 


#5. Dice Snake

  • Natrix tessellata

dice snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Their typical size is 100 – 130 cm (39–51 in) long.
  • Their color varies from greyish green to brownish or almost black, with dark spots on the back.

 

To find this snake in Europe, it’s best to look in the water!

 

In fact, the Dice Snake is such a great swimmer and spends so much time in aquatic habitats, it’s also commonly called the Tessellated Water Snake. In addition, its primary food is fish, although amphibians are sometimes consumed too.

Dice Snake Range Map

dice snake range map

 

If you ever see underneath a Dice Snake, the belly is sometimes colored vividly in yellow or orange, with black spots. The pattern is very similar to dice, which is how they got their name!

 


#6. Barred Grass Snake

  • Natrix helvetica

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Dark grey-green upper body with characteristic black barring along the flanks.
  • A distinctive yellow and black collar around the neck.
  • It can grow over a meter (3.3 feet) in length.

 

Look for this snake in Europe living near water!

 

Barred Grass Snakes are active when searching for food, using their sight and sense of smell to find their prey, which is primarily frogs, toads, and salamanders. These amphibians are eaten live without the aid of constriction.

Barred Grass Snake Range Map

barred grass snake range map

While these common snakes are not venomous and rarely bite, I would caution against picking one up as they have some interesting defense mechanisms. First, you may smell a nasty garlic odor from a fluid released through their anus. Or you may notice blood secreting out of their mouth and nose. And if that’s not enough, then the individual snake may regurgitate what they have been eating onto you. Hissing and striking without opening their mouth are also common.

 

Until a few years ago, the Barred Grass Snake (Natrix helvetica) was considered the same species as the Common Grass Snake (Natrix natrix), but a more in-depth study concluded there are enough differences to be considered separate species. Here is how to tell them apart:

  • Common Grass Snakes have a bright yellow collar, which Barred Grass Snakes lack.
  • Barred Grass Snakes are more grey than their olive green cousin.

 


#7. Green Whip Snake

  • Hierophis viridiflavus

green whip snake

Also called the Western Whip Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A slender snake with a small but well-defined head.
  • They are greenish-yellow with heavy, irregular bands of dark green or black, which fade as you move towards the back.
  • Maximum size is around 150 cm (59 in).

 

Due to their adaptability, this snake is common in Europe!

 

You can find Green Whip Snakes in a wide variety of habitats, including trees, since they are great climbers. In addition, they will eat almost anything, including reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and small birds and eggs.

Green Whip Snake Range Map

green whip snake range map

When threatened, these snakes can become quite aggressive. Be careful as they will try to strike you repeatedly. Luckily, they are not venomous, but they do bite fairly hard. 🙂

 


#8. Viperine Snake

  • Natrix maura

viperine snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Colors range between gray, brown, or reddish.
  • Down its back, look for a black, zig-zag stripe. Along the sides are black circles.
  • Adults can grow to 85 cm (33.5 in).

 

Despite its name, Viperine Snakes are NOT venomous. But they do share many behavioral similarities with Adders (which ARE venomous), along with looking alike, which is how they got their name.

Viperine Snake Range Map

viperine snake range map

To find this snake in Europe, you must head to an aquatic habitat as they are water snakes. They are strong swimmers and primarily hunt and eat fish and frogs.

 

While Viperine Snakes are fairly common, they are sensitive to changes and pollution in their wetland habitats. In addition, they are often killed by people who mistake them for being a venomous viper.

 


#9. Asp Viper

  • Vipera aspis

asp viper

Other common names include European Asp, European Viper, Black Asp, Central Italian Asp, and Southern Italian Asp.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Fairly small, as adults only average a length of 60-65 cm (23.5 – 25.5 inches).
  • The head is broad, triangular, and distinct from the neck. The tip of the snout is slightly upturned.
  • Colors range from light grey to brown to various shades of orange. Some individuals are melanistic and completely black!
  • They have darker marks on their back, which form an irregular zig-zag pattern.

 

Be careful if you find this snake in Europe, as it is VENOMOUS.

 

Bites from the Asp Viper are both painful and dangerous, with about 4% of untreated bites being fatal. If bitten, go to the hospital immediately, as the venom has both coagulant and anticoagulant effects. Severe hemorrhagic necrosis occurs after a few hours, along with impaired vision due to the degradation of blood vessels and blood around the eyes.

Asp Viper Range Map

asp viper range map

According to the IUCN Red List, populations of the Asp Viper are stable, and it’s not currently threatened. These snakes live in a broad range of habitats and have a wide distribution. In general, look for them in areas with plenty of sun, vegetation for cover, and dry soil.

 

While we will never know for sure, many people think that the Asp Viper was the type of snake that bit and killed the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra!

 


#10. Western Montpellier Snake

  • Malpolon monspessulanus

western montpillier snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Quite large and can grow to be up to 2 meters long (6.5 feet) and weigh 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)!
  • Large prominent eyes with a distinct “eyebrow,” which is a ridge above their eye.
  • The body is a uniform yellowish, grey, or olive, often followed by a bluish or dark grey “saddle” on the back.

 

Despite being venomous, these snakes are not considered a threat to humans in Europe.

 

First, the venom has low toxicity and is not very dangerous. Second, when they feel threatened, Western Montpellier Snakes typically slither away quickly. And if they can’t get away, they first try to scare you away by hissing repeatedly, then raising the front of their body and expanding their neck, just like a cobra!

Western Montpellier Snake Range Map

Lastly, since the fangs are positioned toward the back of the mouth, it’s unlikely any venom would be released during a bite. In fact, only a few cases of venom being injected into a person have ever been reported.

 

Western Montpellier Snakes adapt to the presence of humans quite well and are common, despite their large size. Look for them in a wide range of habitats. Their main prey includes lizards, so they are often found in dry areas where lizards like to inhabit.

 


#11. Ladder Snake

  • Zamenis scalaris

ladder snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A medium-sized snake that reaches up to 160 cm long (63 in).
  • Color ranges from yellowish to dark brown, with two darker stripes running down the length of the body from neck to tail.
  • Pointed snout. Dark eyes.

 

Naturally, Ladder Snakes are fairly abundant in Europe in areas with scrubby, brushy cover with lots of sunshine. They have adapted well to human environments and are often seen living in orchards, vineyards, and overgrown stone walls. Look for them hiding inside rodent burrows, hollow trees, or piles of stones.

Ladder Snake Range Map

Being a “rat snake,” most of their diet comprises small mammals, such as mice, rabbits, and shrews. Although they also prey on birds and are known to climb to search for nests.

 

When threatened, Ladder Snakes are aggressive and become very defensive. You can expect them to hiss and lunge forward with their mouths open. If you decide to continue to pick them up, expect them to bite repeatedly, in addition to releasing a smelly odor on you.

 


#12. Southern Smooth Snake

  • Coronella girondica

southern smooth snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A small, round-bodied snake that grows between 50 cm to 80 cm (19 – 32 in) long.
  • They are brown or grayish, with blackish bars or spots running down their back.
  • The rear of the head is a dark U-shaped mark or a pair of dark elongate spots.
  • Very similar to the Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca).

 

Look for this snake in Europe living in dry, rocky open spaces. Rocky hillsides, stone walls, quarries, and the edges of open woodlands and hedgerows offer lots of hiding places for Southern Smooth Snakes.

Southern Smooth Snake Range Map

This small snake is discreet and hard to find. In addition, they are mainly active at night. And if you do come across a Southern Smooth Snake, they are harmless and rarely bite. The worst thing they will probably do is release a smelly substance onto your hand.

 

They primarily eat small lizards and hunt for them by actively searching in their shelters. In contrast to the Smooth Snake, they lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young.

 


#13. Horseshoe Whip Snake

  • Hemorrhois hippocrepis

horseshoe whip snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Usually grows to around 160 cm (62 in) in length.
  • Yellow, beige, olive, or grey. They get darker with age.
  • A row of round dark spots on the back. Smaller dark patches on each side.
  • Dark horseshoe-shaped marking on the neck and a dark band between the eyes.

 

Look for Horseshoe Whip Snakes in southwest Europe in dry, rocky, sunny areas with open vegetation. They are also sometimes found in urban areas and rural gardens, especially near stone walls.

Horseshoe Whip Snake Range Map

These snakes are incredibly agile and fast-moving. So it should be no surprise that they actively hunt their prey, which includes small mammals, lizards, birds, and invertebrates.

 

Horseshoe Whip Snakes are shy and usually run away quickly at the first sign of danger. This wariness, combined with their fast speed, means getting a good look at one can be hard. If they do become cornered and can’t escape, they will flatten their head, hiss loudly, and bite readily!

 


#14. Four-lined Snake

  • Elaphe quatuorlineata

four lined snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • As the name suggests, they have four dark stripes running along a yellowish brown body.
  • A black line runs from the corner of the eye.
  • Adults can reach lengths of 180 cm (5 ft 11 in).

 

Four-lined Snakes are one of the largest snakes found in Europe!

 

Not only are they long, but they are also heavy, as individuals can weigh anywhere between 250 to 1,400 g (0.6 to 3.1 lb). The best places to find them are areas with lots of vegetation, such as meadows, edges of deciduous forests, and scrubby areas around swamps and lakes. Four-lined Snakes are also excellent climbers, so make sure to look up!

Four-lined Snake Range Map

Despite their large size, these slow-moving snakes are normally calm. They rarely bite, even when handled.

 


#15. Nose-horned Viper

  • Vipera ammodytes

nose viper

Also commonly called Horned Viper, Long-nosed Viper, and Sand Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The average total length is 50–70 cm (19.5–27.5 in), but some individuals grow larger.
  • Colors vary (silver-grey, beige, red, brown, dark grey), but there is almost always a dark zigzag on the back.
  • Often a row of round dots on the sides.

 

This species is the most dangerous snake in Europe!

 

First, their venom is highly toxic, with both neurotoxic and cytotoxic components that cause swelling and severe pain. In addition, they have LONG fangs (~13mm / .5 in) to deliver their potentially lethal venom. Luckily, they are not easily agitated and typically only bite when handled or accidentally stepped on.

Nose-horned Viper Range Map

As the name suggests, Nose-horned Vipers have a distinctive single “horn” on the snout. This feature makes them easy to identify. Look for them near rocks and stones, including stone walls, that provide some cover from vegetation.

 

Interestingly, unlike most snakes, males and females look slightly different. First, females usually have more brownish or reddish shades, with males being more greyish. Second, females normally lack the dark blotch or V marking on the back of the head that the males have.

 


#16. Leopard Snake

  • Zamenis situla

leopard snake

Also commonly called the European Ratsnake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Morph #1: Gray or tan with a series of reddish or brown blotches down the back, which are outlined in black (pictured above).
  • Morph #2: Longitudinal lines decorate the back instead of blotches.
  • There is usually a Y-shaped marking on the back of the head. Also, a black streak from the corner of the mouth extends towards the edge of the eye.
  • Typically grows to around 90 cm (35.5 in) in length, but some individuals grow even larger.

 

Look for Leopard Snakes in fairly dry, stony habitats. It’s also common for them to live near human-altered environments, such as vineyards and olive groves that include stone walls or old ruins. To find one of these snakes, you will probably need to uncover them from underneath natural and man-made objects.

Leopard Snake Range Map

Credit: RepFocus

 

As their other name suggests (European Ratsnake), mice form a major part of their diet. Before consuming, they kill their prey using constriction.

 

Leopard Snakes are typically calm. They may rattle their tail at you when they feel threatened, but they don’t bite often.

 


#17. Caspian Whipsnake

  • Dolichophis caspius

caspian whip snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A large, strong snake that grows up to 200 cm / 79 in.
  • They are silver-grey to beige-brown.
  • Poorly defined, longitudinal lines along the body.

 

This species is the LONGEST snake in Europe!

 

While the average Caspian Whipsnake grows to around 140-160 cm  (55-63 in), the record individual was around 250 cm (98 in) in length! Look for them during the day in a wide variety of warm and sunny habitats.

 

Not only are they long, but Caspian Whipsnakes are also fast and actively hunt their prey, which includes small mammals, birds, and reptiles. In addition, they are valued by farmers as natural pest control for their ability to eat large numbers of rodents.

 

Luckily, these snakes are not venomous because they are VERY aggressive. When they feel threatened, they raise their body while hissing loudly, and they may even jump toward you. And be careful if you handle one because they will bite quickly and readily.

 


#18. Balkan Whip Snake

  • Hierophis gemonensis

balkan whip snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A long, slender snake that is usually under a meter long.
  • Color ranges from silver-grey to beige-brown.
  • The head has dark patches. There is often a light streak connecting the eyes.

 

Balkan Whip Snakes live in Europe in dry, stony habitats that have Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation. Rural gardens and pastures are also great places to find these snakes.

 

Balkan Whip Snakes are diurnal and incredibly fast and agile! They mainly prey on small mammals and lizards. In their range, they are common and seen often.

 

I wouldn’t recommend handling them, as they can be aggressive when threatened and will bite persistently if needed.

 


#19. Dahl’s Whip Snake

  • Platyceps najadum

dahls whip snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A VERY slender snake that grows up to 120 cm / 47 in long.
  • The head and first quarter of the body are usually grey with round, black circles on the sides that decrease in size.
  • The rest of the body is a uniform beige-brown.

 

Dahl’s Whip Snake can be found in Europe in dry, stony habitats with low vegetation.

 

They are also seen in cultivated areas, such as olive groves and vineyards, especially if they have stone walls. These snakes are extremely fast and actively hunt lizards, both on the ground and on walls. The best time to find one is during the day, except when it gets very hot, then they become more active in the morning or evening.

 

Interestingly, Dahl’s Whip Snakes are not considered a venomous species because they don’t have fangs. BUT, if you are bitten, you may experience poisoning symptoms if the skin is penetrated and their saliva has time to work its way into the wound! Humans typically experience swelling near the bite, but some individuals also have lymph node swelling.

 


#20. Cat Snake

  • Telescopus fallax

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Fairly slender and usually less than 100 cm (39 in) in length. The eyes have vertical pupils.
  • Their body is beige or gray with large dark bars or blotches on their back and smaller ones on the sides.
  • A dark collar often extends to the middle of the head.

 

Cat Snakes live in warm rocky areas, such as stone steppes and rocky slopes. But you may also find them in open deciduous forests, backyard gardens, orchards, or other habitats near humans, especially if there is a stone wall available to hide inside.

 

It’s fairly hard to see a Cat Snake in Europe because they rarely show themselves during the day. Instead, they are almost completely nocturnal, which is when they hunt for lizards and geckos while they sleep. Your best chance of finding one is turning over stones during spring or autumn.

Cat Snake Range Map

Credit: RepFocus

 

Cat Snakes are venomous, but luckily there have been no cases of one of them injecting venom into a human. They have rear fangs, which make it very hard to envenomate a person. In addition, the venom has low toxicity unlikely to harm more than small prey. Lastly, they are calm snakes and normally don’t bite or hiss even when handled.

 


#21. Seoane’s Viper

  • Vipera seoanei

seoanes viper

Also known as the Baskian viper, Iberian Cross Adder, and Portuguese Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically measure between 50 – 60 cm (19.5 – 23.5 in) in length.
  • They are highly variable in appearance. Individuals are usually beige, grey, or reddish.
  • Their backs are typically light with a contrasting darker zigzag or straight stripe.
  • Lacks the upturned snout of other similar venomous viper species.

 

Seoane’s Vipers like moist, warm habitats and are found in forest clearings and the edges of meadows that have lots of vegetation. Stone walls are also great places for them to hide inside.

Seoane’s Vipers Range Map

These snakes are venomous, but the potency of the venom varies across Spain. If bitten, you should seek medical attention immediately, but in general, their venom is not as dangerous as the Asp Viper.

 

Seoane’s Vipers mainly feed on small mammals that they ambush. But if needed, they will pursue their prey into their burrow (I would not want to be that mouse!).

 


#22. Meadow Viper

  • Vipera ursinii

meadow viper

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults average 40–50 cm (15.75–19.69 inches) in total length.
  • They are gray, tan, or yellowish with a dark wavy dorsal stripe, which is edged with black.
  • The snout is NOT upturned, like the Asp Viper.

 

These snakes are considered a very RARE species in Europe!

 

In fact, they are in danger of going extinct, with only a few scattered populations remaining. Their main threats include habitat destruction due to agriculture and climate change in mountain areas, which is where many of them are found.

Meadow Viper Range Map

Meadow Vipers are among the smallest venomous vipers on the continent. But despite their size, they are incredibly feisty when they feel threatened. So you can expect an upset snake to hiss and strike in defense.

 

Luckily, their venom is probably the least dangerous of the European vipers, although the bite can still be painful and cause internal hemorrhaging.

 


#23. Lataste’s Viper

  • Vipera latastei

lataste viper

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Normally grows to around 60 cm (23.5 in) long.
  • Light to dark brown, beige or light silver to dark grey. A darker zigzagging stripe on their back.
  • Unmistakable in its range due to the distinct upturned horn on the snout.

 

Lataste’s Vipers are found in southwest Europe in many habitats, including different elevations. For example, they live in coastal dunes with Umbrella Pines, open deciduous forests, rocky areas with stone walls, and also on sunny rocky slopes in the Sierra Nevada.

Lataste’s Viper Range Map

 

The best place to find one is typically under a rock, regardless of whether it is day or night. Some scientists think that the yellow tip of their tail is used to lure prey!

lataste yellow tail

Lataste’s Vipers are venomous, and their venom is cytotoxic and quite potent. But luckily, it has enzymes that are more effective on mice than on humans. As a result, bites are rarely fatal to people, but you can still expect swelling, internal hemorrhaging, and sometimes necrosis. Medical treatment should always be sought if bitten.

 


#24. Iberian False Smooth Snake

  • Macroprotodon brevis

iberian false smooth snake

Also called the Western False Smooth Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The average size of adults is 65 cm (25.5 in).
  • Fairly slender snake. They are pale grey or brown with a row of dark blotches on their back.
  • Look for a dark grey or brown color over the neck and a dark streak under the eye.

 

These snakes do best in warm weather and are typically found in sandy soil around loose rocks or large boulders. But they are also known to frequent dunes, orchards, and pine forests.

 

Iberian False Smooth Snakes can be hard to locate in southwest Europe because they are completely nocturnal and crepuscular. They come out at night to hunt on the ground for geckos, lizards, and worm lizards. Interestingly, worm lizards make up about half their diet.

Iberian False Smooth Snake Range Map

You might not guess it, but Iberian False Smooth Snakes are venomous! They are considered opisthoglyphous, which means that the rear teeth in the upper jaw have been modified as fangs. Since their fangs are at the very back of their mouth, it’s almost impossible for them to inject venom into a human. In addition, their mouth is too small, and the toxicity of the venom is too low to cause any damage to a person.

 


#25. Sand Boa

  • Eryx jaculus

sand boa

Also known as the Javelin Sand Boa.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • It can grow as large as 80 cm (31.5 in).
  • The head has no distinction from the body. A dark stripe runs from the eyes to the neck.
  • Coloration is cream, beige, and yellow to bright orange. Has irregular dark blotches on the back and small spots on the sides.

 

Despite their name, these snakes in Europe are not typically found in sandy areas. Instead, the best places for them are in savanna-like habitats with loam soil or rocky slopes (if there is enough loose soil).

Sand Boa Range Map

sand boa range map

Credit: RepFocus

 

Sand Boas are hard to see because they are nocturnal and spend most of their life underground. They don’t come out to bask in the sun but instead get warm by basking just under fallen leaves, stones, or the surface of loose soil. They rarely bite when handled and typically act sluggish.

 

These snakes have an interesting role in history. To cause confusion and fear during naval battles, they were shot by the ancient Greeks at their enemies! And as the Greeks conquered new territories, the range of Sand Boas also increased. 🙂

 


#26. Blotched Snake

  • Elaphe sauromates

blotched snake

Also called the East Four-lined Ratsnake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The average adult length is 120 cm to 160 cm (47 – 63 inches). But some individuals have approached 250 cm (98 inches).
  • Yellowish body. Faded dark blotches run down the body.
  • A dark line runs from the eye towards the back of their mouth.

 

The Blotched Snake is found in eastern Europe in open lowland areas, such as river valleys, open deciduous forests, and dry grassy plains.

 

These snakes are large but also aggressive when captured. So if you try to handle one, you can expect to be bitten.

 


#27. Ottoman Viper

  • Montivipera xanthina

ottoman viper

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 100 cm (39.5 in) in length.
  • A large, robust body with a blunt snout. Beige, brown, whitish, or grey with a large wavy dark stripe on their back.
  • Often two dark dots on the head and two dark streaks on the neck resemble a V-shape.

 

This species is the LARGEST viper in Europe!

 

You can find Ottoman Vipers in areas with dry, rocky surfaces that also have lots of dense vegetation. Meadows with stone walls or bushy hillsides near streams offer excellent habitats for them.

 

In general, these snakes are considered to have a calm disposition and are a bit sluggish. But if they feel cornered, they won’t hesitate to start hissing and strike their attacker.

 

You don’t want to get bitten by an Ottoman Viper, as their venom is highly toxic and it’s almost always injected into their victim. If the bite is left untreated, it’s potentially fatal for a human.

 


Do you need more help identifying a snake you saw in Europe?

 

If so, check out this field guide, which is full of great information!

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Which of these snakes have you seen before in Europe?

 

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