Posted by: puebloman | August 5, 2013

Water snakes of Andalucia

Head of female viperine(?) in our water deposit 1st August 2013

Head of female Viperine  snake (?) in our water deposit 1st August 2013

Snakes are of course the Marmite species of the animal kingdom. You love them or hate them. I love them, and in a previous life  kept boa constrictors and a variety of King snakes. They are beautiful, gentle, clean animals. When we decided to come to Spain I looked up the snake population expecting to find that the ecologies of Europe and Africa had overlapped producing a wide variety of serpents from both continents. I was disappointed to find that there were a measly thirteen types of snake in the whole of Spain, none more poisonous than the common British adder. The biggest Spanish snake is the Montpelier, a back fanged snake. This means that it’s poisonous, but has to chew all the way up your finger before it can even think of poisoning you.  I once asked Manolo, our friend who runs the farmers’ cooperative in Almachar, whether there were poisonous animals around here. Here looked at me and said “The only poisonous animals in these parts are human. Watch out for them” Manolo sometimes forgets that life is for living and that living is fun.

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Here she is again, basking on a piece of floating wood

Anyway, about three years ago, a snake arrived in our water deposit. She usually turned up in June – tadpole time – and realised that for tadpole eating snakes there is in fact such a thing as a free lunch. So she came back last year and here she is again, with someone else who could be a mate. I say she because she is stockier than her “mate” and has a clearly defined short tail. “He” is about twice the thickness of a pencil, slim and very active. Yesterday he “snaked” across the water, his head breaking the surface of the water, while she reclined in the bottom. When he was above her he stopped, allowing himself to drift across her on the bottom. Very sexy. Readers will recall that snakes have a double-headed spined penis. They have penetrative sexual intercourse that can last for days. I don’t know how they do it in the water though – they have to come up to breathe. Maybe that’s part of the fun.

I’m not exactly sure of the species, but I think that they are Viperine snake natrix maura. Most viperines I’ve seen have better developed diamonds on their backs. They imitate and behave exactly like vipers but they are neither venomous nor of the viper family, they are the family Natrix – same family as the grass snake, Natrix natrix. She looks like a grass snake but without those distinctive yellow dabs behind the ears. Both Grass snakes and Viperines are very fond of water, and completely at home there. Hopefully we will see babies before the water runs out?

Here she is lurking in the blanket weed. There are no fish so she must be feeding on tadpoles and baby frogs

Here she is lurking in the blanket weed. There are no fish so she must be feeding on tadpoles and baby frogs


Responses

  1. […] Water snakes of Andalucia (puebloman.com) […]

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  2. We are ‘run a mile’ woosies when we see a snake (which we have done several times. Our cat had a wrestle with a ladder snake. Stuff of nightmares!

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