Snakes on Crete





To my knowledge, there are four different kinds of snake on Crete. If you should see one when walking, it will most likely be the European Ratsnake.

European Ratsnake (Zamenis Situla) – Non-venomous

The European Ratsnake is a very shy snake. You can see them on cooler, but sunny, days lying on the road in the evening. The roads are still warm from the afternoon sun, and the snakes are warming up. More often than not, they’ll be dead, having been driven over. They have a red pattern, and grow up to 60-80cm long. All snakes on Crete with red colouring belong to this species.

Dice Snake (Natrix Tessellata) – Non-venomous

Another shy snake, the dice snake grows up to 90cm long, and has a brown or grey colouring. They need to be near to a source of water. Dice snakes are rare on Crete.

Green Whip Snake (Columber Gomonensis) – Non-venomous

This snake isn’t so rare as other species of snake living on Crete. They grow to 1m long, with a brown colouring and are not afraid to bite. Be careful during the breeding season (spring to early summer): this is the most common time for them to attack. I know at least two people who got bitten. Often they will bite several times in a couple of seconds. Though the bites are painful, they are, thankfully, non-venomous. Nevertheless, should you get bitten, it’s a good idea to see the doctor in case the wounds get infected. Green whip snakes grow up to 2m long.

European Cat Snake (Telescopus Fallax) – Venomous, but not too dangerous for humans

Cat snakes on Crete usually have a grey back with a red-yellow belly. As with most Cretan snakes, they grow to 1m long. Despite these snakes being venomous, you do not need to feel too much fear of them, for several reasons:
• It is a rear-fanged snake. This means the poisonous teeth are so far back in the mouth that the poison only affects small animals (e.g. rats or mice). Humans are unlikely to get poisoned in 90% of attacks.
• Cat snakes are very shy.
• The venom is quite weak for humans. Even children will almost always survive. Most people will not feel anything except for pain in the area of the bite
• These snakes are rare on Crete – I’ve never heard of anyone who has seen one. They are far more prevalent on some of the other Greek islands.
• Even if there is no antidote, doctors and hospitals will help you
Never try to stop the blood circulating in your arm or leg if you are bitten by a snake – this is far more dangerous to your health than the actual bite itself!

 

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