There are two main family types of snakes found extensively in Italy. The most common is the 'Whip Snake', which belongs to the family, 'Colubridae '. There are 21 different types of snakes within the 'Colubrids' found in Italy, which are listed at the bottom of the page. None of them are poisonous, although three: the 'Montpellier Snake' (Malpolon monspessulanus), the 'False Smooth Snake' (Macroprotodon cucullatus), and the 'Cat Snake' (Telescopus fallax) all have fangs at the back of their upper jaw. All of these snakes are active during the day (Diurnal) except for the 'Southern Smooth Snake' (Coronella girondica), the 'False Smooth Snake' (Macroprotodon cucullatus) and the 'Cat Snake' (Telescopus fallax), which are all active during the twilight hours (crepuscular). The majority of these species lay eggs, except for the 'Smooth Snake' (Coronella austriaca), which gives birth to live young, born in a membrane.
More about Whipsnakes
The other type of snake is the 'European Viper', which belongs to the family 'Viperidae'. There are four types: the 'Asp Viper' (Vipera aspis), the 'Nose-horned Viper' (Vipera ammodytes), the 'European Viper' also called the 'Adder' or 'Northern Viper' (Vipera berus) and the 'Orsini's Viper' or 'Field Adder' (Vipera ursinii). All of these snakes are poisonous. They 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.
More about Vipers
List of Italian Snake Species:
Genus Coluber (Whip Snakes)
(Balkan Whip Snake)
(Horseshoe Whip Snake
Sardinia and Pantellaria only)
(Western Whip Snake or dark
Genus Elaphe (Rat Snakes)
(Italian Aesculapian Snake)
(Ladder Snake Very small area of
North Western Italy only, literally just overlaps the border)
Genus Coronella (Smooth Snakes)
(Southern Smooth Snake)
Genus Telescopus (Cat Snakes)
Subfamilia Boodontini or Lamprophiinae
(False Smooth Snake)
Genus Natrix (Water Snakes)
Natrix natrix (Grass Snake)
Natrix tessellata (Dice Snake)
Genus Vipera (Vipers)
(European Viper, or Adder or Northern Viper)
Viper or Field Adder)
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