Snakes in North Cyprus

Snakes are comatose in the heat of high summer and spend the winter in hibernation and are without exception frightened of human baings and only attack to defend themselves. Most snakes of the island are non-venomous. There are six types snakes in Cyprus, of which three are poisonous: Only one of these, the blunt-nosed viper can be dangerous to man. The other two poisonous snakes of the island are the slender cat snake and the Montpellier snake.

The blunt-nosed viper (Vipera Lebetina) is a dangerous highly poisonous viper.It is a fat snake, varying in colour with a yellow and horn-like tail-end.It inhabits steppelike terrain with boulders and bushes and hillsides beside streams. It attacks only in defence. If it is disturbed, it hisses loudly and may attack very rapidly. It is particularly dangerous because when it bites, its teeth remain embedded in the tissue and the movements of the jaw pump large amounts of poison into the wound.

The cat snake (Telescopus fallax) can grow up to one metre in lenght. Generally nocturnal, active at dust and nighttime, lives in marshy areas beside streams and shelters in burrows and under stoves during the day. It is yellow-brown speckled with black and is a fast mover catching lizards from their hiding places.

The Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessu lanus) is a poisonous snake. Its venom is not normally dangerous to man, but can cause painful local swelling and a headache. It can grow to two metres and lives in terrain with short grass and undergrowth and feeds on mainly lizards.

The non-poisonous varieties are the Ravergier`s whipe snake or the coin snake, the Persian or large whip-snake and the rare Cyprus whip-snake.

The Ravergier`s whip snake or the coin snake is a pale brown snake with dark brown diamond-shaped markings along its back.

The Large whip-snake (Coluber jugularis) can be up to 2 m long when fully grown.It is the longest snake of Europe. It is yellow-brown in colour for the first three years of its life and then turns black. In defence, it coils itself into a spiral and attacks, hissing loudly.

The Cyprus whip-snake is deep green in colour, lives in dry, stony terrain with bushes, preferring to stay near a stream.