Protected snake found dead on Torremendo roadside

© Flickr by Alexandre Roux.

MONTPELLIER SNAKE: one of largest in Europe.

A SNAKE, almost two metres long, was found dead on the road from San Miguel de Salinas to Torremendo. 

The snake was an adult Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus), the largest in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the largest in Europe, and species protected by law. It was found just a kilometre before Torremendo. 

Biologists and naturalists warn drivers of the need for extreme care especially first thing in the morning, as the heat on the asphalt is used by many animals to warm up after the lethargy of the night.

The Montpellier snake, which can easily reach two-and-a-half metres in length finds its habitat in farming areas, areas of low scrub and sandy slopes, the most common sight in this part of the Vega Baja. The species also likes the typical stone walls of olive or almond areas and hunting grounds where rodents are easily found like field mice, rats and rabbits and small reptiles such as lizards and geckos from which it feeds.

The discovery of the snake was made by Javier Dura, President of the Association of Friends of the Sierra Escalona and an expert in environmental law. He said people should not be concerned by their bad press and encouraged respect for them, saying: “They are largely unknown and enigmatic and even though they have a bad reputation they are highly beneficial for agriculture eating creatures like rabbits and mice that can be a pest to farmers.”

The Montpellier snake is easily recognised by its size and a colour ranging from grey to olive green with black spots. Between the months of October to March they usually hibernate. Dura said they were more likely to flee from humans but if cornered or harassed would defend themselves and could give a painful bite.

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