Snakes in Italy, Colubridae, Viperidae, Italian poisonous snakes, snake bites, black snakes, white snakes, Whip Snakes, Dark Green Snake,
Leopard Snake, Smooth Snakes, Water Snakes, Vipers, Nose-horned Viper, Asp Viper, European Viper, Adders

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Snakes of Italy
There are two snake families encountered in Italy comprising of Colubridae (with 4 subfamilies in Italy: Colubrinae, Natricinae, Psammophiini and Boodontini) and Viperidae (one subfamily in Italy: Viperinae).

Snakes in Italy, Colubridae, Viperidae, Italian poisonous snakes, snake bites, black snakes, white snakes, Whip Snakes, Dark Green Snake, Leopard Snake, Smooth Snakes, Water Snakes, Vipers, Nose-horned Viper, Asp Viper, European Viper, Adders

Coluber viridiflavus (Western Whip Snake)
The majority of the species have colour/pattern variants, which makes id harder, but the vipers all have unique distinctions which aid in separating these from the non venomous colubrids, although three of the colubrid species (Malpolon monspessulanus (Montpellier Snake), Macroprotodon cucullatus (False Smooth Snake), Telescopus fallax (Cat Snake)) are the only European colubrid species to possess fangs at the back of the upper jaw. All European colubrids have the head covered by large scales and with respect to Italy are all diurnal with the exception of Coronella girondica (Southern Smooth Snake), Macroprotodon cucullatus (False Smooth Snake) and Telescopus fallax (Cat Snake), which are all crepuscular (active during twilight). The majority of these species lay eggs, except for Coronella austriaca (Smooth Snake), which gives birth to live young, born in a membrane.
Snakes in Italy, Colubridae, Viperidae, Italian poisonous snakes, snake bites, black snakes, white snakes, Whip Snakes, Dark Green Snake, Leopard Snake, Smooth Snakes, Water Snakes, Vipers, Nose-horned Viper, Asp Viper, European Viper, Adders

Vipera aspis (Asp Viper)
European vipers (4 Species in Italy) all have true venom glands (thick connective tissue, lumen, compressor musculature and a duct connecting to a fang) and are front-fanged. Vipers are solenoglyphous snakes, as they have a single, enlarged tubular fang on the anterior end of a movable maxillary bone, enabling each maxilla to pivot on a hinge with the prefrontal bone, which is also hinged with the frontal. Together with the musculature, this enables the fangs to be folded backwards when not in use and erected when required. Vipers are very heavy bodied and slow moving, with well defined heads and short tails. Key features are the keeled dorsal body scales, vertical pupil and undivided preanal scale. They are not aggressive unless disturbed and it is extremely inadvisable to handle them due to their potent venom. See Snake bite section

List of Italian Snake Species:

COLUBRIDAE
Subfamilia:Colubrinae

Genus Coluber (Whip Snakes)

Coluber gemonensis (Balkan Whip Snake)
Coluber hippocrepis (Horseshoe Whip Snake Sardinia and Pantellaria only)
Coluber viridiflavus (Western Whip Snake or dark green snake/biacco)

Genus Elaphe (Rat Snakes)
Elaphe lineata (Italian Aesculapian Snake)
Elaphe longissima (Aesculapian Snake)
Elaphe quatuorlineata (Four-lined Snake)
Elaphe situla (Leopard Snake)
Elaphe scalaris (Ladder Snake Very small area of North Western Italy only, literally just overlaps the border)

Genus Coronella (Smooth Snakes)
Coronella austriaca (Smooth Snake)
Coronella girondica (Southern Smooth Snake)

Genus Telescopus (Cat Snakes)
Telescopus fallax (Cat Snake)

Subfamilia Psammophiini
Genus Malpolon

Malpolon monspessulanus (Montpellier Snake)

Subfamilia Boodontini or Lamprophiinae
Genus Macroprotodon

Macroprotodon cucullatus (False Smooth Snake)

Subfamilia Natricinae
Genus Natrix (Water Snakes)

Natrix maura (Viperine Snake)
Natrix natrix (Grass Snake)
Natrix tessellata (Dice Snake)

VIPERIDAE
Subfamilia Viperinae
Genus Vipera (Vipers)

Vipera ammodytes (Nose-horned Viper)
Vipera aspis
(Asp Viper)
Vipera berus (European Viper, or Adder or Northern Viper)
Vipera ursinii (Orsini's Viper or Field Adder)

© Understanding Italy 2008
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