Snakes In Greece

By Snaketracks / September 7, 2021

There are 21 different types of snakes found among the mainland and the many islands in Greece. There are over 200 Greek islands but all have similar species of snakes found on them. On this list, I named the islands where the species has a strong population and presence.

The warm climate and attractions make Greece a popular tourist spot and it is home to many snakes that are found only in Europe. Snakes are a part of Greece’s culture and history. Some of the snakes on this list are found in Ancient Greek stories or have relations to Greek Gods. 

The many habitats in Greece allow there to be a variety of species, most of which are harmless. On this list, you will find all of the snakes and things to help identify them in the wild. Some of the snakes on this list are endangered and have low populations.

New species are always being discovered in the wild, making herping funner than ever. Next time you find yourself in Greece maybe you will see some of the snakes on this list. 

Snakes found in Mainland Greece

1. Bosnian Adder

Bosnian Adder (Vipera berus)
Bosnian Adder (Vipera berus) – source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Vipera berus
  • Other Names: Common European adder, common european viper
  • Adult Size: 22-35 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Bosnians Adders can be found in the Mainland of Greece in the northern mountain regions. Edges of woods, countrysides, rocky hillsides, sandy heaths, and open meadows are areas this snake lives in. Adders are diurnal and spend their day basking in the sun or hunting. They can sometimes be seen near water since they like to travel to wetter areas.

Bosnian Adders are small in size and can be gray, black, brown, white, and yellow in color. Some snakes have a zigzag pattern that runs down their back. A dark  X or V marking is also present on their big heads. Male adders will more likely be gray and a female brown.

These snakes have strong venom which they use to feed off small mammals and are slightly harmful to humans. Mice, rats, voles, lizards, frogs and newts are some of the things they hunt.

They can sometimes be seen searching in shrubs and bushes for eggs and baby animals. When hunting for prey they use the ambush technique. It bites and releases its prey, waiting for it to die later.

2. Smooth Snake

Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)
Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coronella austriaca
  • Other Names: 
  • Adult Size: 24-30 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-20 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Smooth Snakes are secretive snakes found in Greece. They live in sandy habitats with lots of covers and in the same areas as the sand lizard. These snakes can be seen basking in the hot sun but will most likely be found hiding in a hole or under natural debris. In winter they hibernate in premade animal holes underground.

Smooth snakes are slender and camouflage well into sandy habitats. They are dark brown or gray in color and have markings of dots on their back. A heart-shaped crown marking is on their heads. As its name suggests, this snake’s skin is smooth and glossy.

It is rare to find this species in the wild, so in some areas, this snake is protected. They look similar in appearance to an Adder, so they sometimes get killed.

Low breeding sites, fires, and the expansion of humans have also contributed to this snake’s population decline. Smooth snakes feed on small animals like worms, lizards, small rodents, and birds.

3. Aesculapian Snake

Aesculapian Snake (Zamenis longissimus)
Aesculapian Snake (Zamenis longissimus)
  • Experience Level: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Zamenis longissimus
  • Other Names: Elaphe longissima
  • Adult Size: 60-78 inches
  • Lifespan: 20-30 years
  • Average Price Range: $150-$300

Aesculapian snakes can be found on the Greece mainland. Open woodlands, farms, and rocky fields are areas this species inhabits. Moist locations with high vegetation make perfect homes.

This species climbs and can be seen exploring treetops or high areas. Aesculapian are active in the day and will come out later to avoid hot weather. This snake refers to the god of healing in Greek Mythology. It can be seen in modern medicine today as a symbol of a snake around the staff. 

Olive green, brownish-green and black is common colors for adults. They are long and slender with smooth scales. White-edged scales with freckles are patterns seen often. Their belly is a pale yellow. When young juveniles will be light green to brown. They have a dark pattern on their back and around their face.

Rats, squirrels, eggs, lizards, and other small rodents are their main source of food. This snake is not venomous but uses constriction to kill its prey. In Europe, this snake is seen as a species of “Special Concern”.

Habitat destruction, illegal capture, and road killings have caused concern for this species’ populations. In some areas, they have a healthy population and are beneficial in controlling rodent problems. 

4. Blotched Snake

Blotched Snake (Elaphe sauromates)
Blotched Snake (Elaphe sauromates)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Elaphe sauromates
  • Other Names: Blotched Ratsnake
  • Adult Size: 35-60 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Average Price Range: $100-$200

Blotched snakes can be found in Greece and live primarily on the mainland. This snake is a subspecies of ratsnake. Thin forests and ravines are its preferred habitat.  Active in the daytime, they hang around the edges of marshes and rivers.  This species has recently been discovered and little research has been done due to its secretive nature.

Blotched snakes have large round eyes with thick strong bodies. Its color can vary from brown to yellow, depending on location. Their scales are rough and painted with black spots.

These snakes feed on mammals and birds. In most areas it lives, steps have been taken to preserve this species. Deforestation and poaching are the reasons for population suffering.

5. Meadow Viper

Meadow Viper (Vipera ursinii)
Meadow Viper (Vipera ursinii)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Vipera ursinii
  • Other Names: Meadow adder
  • Adult Size: 15-30 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Meadow vipers inhabit wetlands, aquafarms, rice paddies, temperate grasslands, and rocky areas in Greece. These snakes are solitary and most active from spring and early fall. During the day they can be seen on land or swimming. They can be seen climbing in the branches of trees.

Meadow vipers have thick bodies and narrow heads. Their scales are very keeled and look rough. They are gray, yellow, or tan with a dark stripe running down their back.

This stripe is edged in black and is undulating. The nose of this snake is upturned and there are large scales on top of its head. This snake is small and females are usually larger than males.

Small insects, small mammals and lizards are what this snake hunts. Climate change and the changing of natural habitat has caused this species to become endangered. Capturing them to be kept as pets is also another reason. This snake is venomous but harmless.

6. Balkan Whip Snake

Balkan Whip Snake (Hierophis gemonensis) by Alexandre Roux
Balkan Whip Snake (Hierophis gemonensis) by Alexandre Roux
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Hierophis gemonensis
  • Other Names: Coluber gemonensis
  • Adult Size: 40-50 inches
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Balkan whip snakes are found on the mainland of Greece and in the isles of Corfu, Crete, Zakynthos, and Kefalonia. Shrubby areas, open woodlands, road banks pastures, and rocky areas near the sea are habitats it lives in. This snake is mainly terrestrial but will sometimes climb on low vegetation. In the winter it hibernates in underground burrows with other snakes.

Whip snakes are long and slender, with smooth scales. Their head and neck is olive-gray to brown in color. Near their tails, it turns into a striped pattern with spots. Their stomaches are a pale yellow or white color. On their big head sits two large eyes with rounded pupils.

In the daytime is when these snakes take action, and they rest at night. It uses its speed to hunt lizards, insects, birds, and small mammals.

While not venomous, this snake will not hesitate to bite if messed with. Balkan whip snakes are common and have only seen a small population decrease due to pollution and fires.

7. Javelin Sand Boa

Javelin Sand Boa (Eryx jaculus)
Javelin Sand Boa (Eryx jaculus) – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Eryx jaculus
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 20-30 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-20 years
  • Average Price Range: $120-$300

Found on Mainland and Chios, Samos,and Corfu Islands

Add 100 – 300 words about the animal

The Javelin Sand boa can be found on the Mainland in Greece and the Chios, Samos, and Corfu Greek Isles. They were known to be used as a projectile and were thrown at enemies in Ancient Greece. Deserts, scrub forests, shrublands, grasslands, forests, and desert edges are all habitats this snake lives in. Arid regions with the sandy substrate are what is preferred by the snake.

Sandy boas are thick with small heads. They have a pointed nose to help with burrowing. Their skin is camouflage to help blend in with the desert sands.

They are gray, brownish, reddish, or tan in color with dark blotches. Their bodies are thick with a short, blunt tails. Their snake scales are slightly keeled but they still have a smooth look.

Bats, lizards, frogs, birds, and small mammals are what this snake usually eats. They kill by ambushing. These snakes spend most of their time underground and come out to hunt. When it gets hot they are active in the early morning but as temperature drops, they become more active at night.

8. Grass Snake

Grass Snake (Natrix Natrix) on white background
Grass Snake (Natrix Natrix) on white background
  • Experience Level: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Natrix Natrix
  • Other Names: ringed snake, water snake
  • Adult Size: 14-25 inches
  • Lifespan: 15-25 years
  • Average Price Range: $75-$150

Grass Snakes live in Greece on the mainland and in the Greek isles of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Corfu, Zakynthos, and Rhodes. They are the world’s most widespread species and are very common.

This snake lives around bodies of water and highly vegetated spaces. Meadows, forests, coastal areas, woodlands, and suburban areas are habitats that this snake can live in. This snake can be seen basking and often hides under debris for safety.

Dark green or brown is their natural color but they can also be gray or black in colder regions. Grass snakes have a yellow or white mark around their head, which is why some call them ring-necked snakes. Their stomachs are white with shades of black.

Grass snakes feed on amphibians and small insects. They hunt near water edges using keen sight and smell. When eating its prey they swallow them whole. If threatened, the snake will likely not bite. Releasing a foul-ordered musk and playing dead are the defensive things it does. Grass snakes hold meaning in Baltic and Roman culture as a symbol.

9. Four-lined Snake

Four-Lined Rat Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata)
Four-Lined Rat Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Elaphe quatuorlineata
  • Other Names: Bulgarian Ratsnake
  • Adult Size: 65-78 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Average Price Range: $100-$150

Four-lined snakes inhabit the mainland of Greece and the Greek Isles of Zakynthos, Kefalonia, and Corfu. They live mainly in low-stem ferrets, hilly regions, sparse woodlands, and deserted buildings.

This snake is active in the morning to early afternoon. They stay mainly on land but are good climbers, and can be seen in treetops.

This snake’s name refers to the four lines that run down its back. They have yellowish to brown bodies and their lines are black. These snakes are long and have white bellies with dark markings.

Rabbits, weasels, lizards, mice, and squirrels are the main part of their diet. Mild tempered, this snake rarely hisses or bites.

10. Montpellier Snake

  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Lamprophiidae
  • Scientific Name: Malpolon monspessulanus
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 55-80 inches
  • Lifespan: 15-25 years
  • Average Price Range: $75-$100

Montpellier snakes live on the mainland of Greece and in the isles of Zakynthos, Kefalonia, and Corfu. They live in dry, hot areas with rocks and mild vegetation.

Stone walls, vineyards, and open woodlands are some places you can see them. This species is venomous and active during the day. Rear fangs make bites less deadly, but still painful.

Montpellier snakes are long with large powerful bodies. They have large eyes and round pupils. Adult snakes are dark gray or green with a pale yellow belly. Their scales are rough and keeled.

The numbers of this species is healthy since this snake can adapt well to human-populated areas. Habitats with lizards is where this snake lives because they are a main part of this snake’s diet. Small mammals and rodents are also preyed upon by this species.

11. Ottoman Viper

Ottoman Coastal Viper (Montivipera xanthina)
Ottoman Coastal Viper (Montivipera xanthina)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Montivipera xanthina
  • Other Names: Rock viper, Coastal viper 
  • Adult Size: 30-50 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Ottoman Vipers inhabit the mainland of Greece as well as the Lesvos and Samos Greek Isles. This species is aggressive and can be found in rocky, well vegetated woodlands and grasslands.

It will sometimes bite without warning, and is venomous. Mainly active during the day, during hotter months they may become nocturnal.

Ottoman vipers are medium sized with large triangular heads. They are gray or white, with a black zig-zag stripe going down their back. They have black blotches on their sides and head.Their scales are keeled and rough.

Rodents and other small mammals are the main sources of food for this species. It can also hunt lizards and birds. Bites from this snake are rare, and it may hiss as a warning. Large size makes it one of the largest venomous vipers, but it is also one of the most common.

12. Caspian Whip Snake

Caspian Whipsnake (Dolichophis caspius)
Caspian Whipsnake (Dolichophis caspius)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Dolichophis caspius
  • Other Names: large whipsnake
  • Adult Size: 55-63 inches
  • Lifespan: 8-15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Caspian whip snakes can be found on the Greek isles of Chios, Lesvos, Rhodes, Skiathos and Samos. You will find this species in open, bushy areas. Edged and rocky habitats near water are a common area to find this species. They are fast and aggressive, being active mostly in the day.

Caspian Whip snakes are the largest snake species in Europe, with the largest being 98 inches long. Its scales are gray to brown in color with dark edges.

Rodents and other small mammals are preyed on by whip snakes. They are a generalist predator and help keep pest populations low. It will sometimes bite without giving any warning. Teeth on both jaws help hold prey and they are not venomous.

13. European Cat Snake

European Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax)
European Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Telescopus fallax
  • Other Names: Soosan snake
  • Adult Size: 24-48 inches
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

European Cat snakes live on the Greek Isles of Samos, Crete, Skiathos and Rhodes. This species is mildly venomous, but not dangerous to humans. They are nocturnal and active in twilight.

Habitats like woodlands, rocky areas, beaches and residential areas are where this species could live. They are great climbers and can be found in the trees or on top of a wall.

Their heads are flat, short and oval shaped. Cat snakes have earth like patterns,which help them camouflage into their surroundings.

Brown or tan is their scale color with dark blotches painted across their back. Their scales are smooth and their eyes are round and cat-like.

Geckos and lizards are this species main source of food but they will also eat small mammals and birds. They have mild venom which they use to help relax the bodies of their prey. This species has a healthy population and  is a widely distributed snake across Europe.

14. European Rat Snake

European Rat Snake (Zamenis situla)
European Rat Snake (Zamenis situla)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Zamenis situla
  • Other Names: leopard snake
  • Adult Size: 25-35 inches
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Average Price Range: $100-$200

European Rat snakes are found on the Greek Islands of Samos, Crete, Kefalonia, Corfu, Skiathos and Rhodes. They live in habitats like pastures, palantiations and rural gardens.

They prefer areas that are wet with some vegetation. On some islands people brought this species into their cellars to help control the rodent population.

This species is also called the Leopard Snake due to its unique pattern. They are gray or tan, with dark red blotches on their back and sides. The blotches are edged in black and they have dark markings on their head. Its belly is white and checkered with black markings.

Rodents, lizards and young birds are ambushed then eaten by Rat snakes. Areas with a high rat population will attract this species. In the wild they are known to hide under debris and other objects to avoid contact with humans. This species is also known as a bad breed to keep in captivity.

15. Dice Snake

Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata)
Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Natrix tessellata
  • Other Names: Tessellated watersnake
  • Adult Size: 40-50 inches
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Average Price Range: $25-$50

Dice snakes can be found in Greece on the Mainland and the Greek islands of Lesvos, Samos, Crete, Kefalonia and Corfu. They live mainly in streams, lakes, sea shores, rock pools and wetlands.

Dice snakes spend most of their time hunting in fresh and saltwater swimming very fast. It is common to see them in dry holes next to water.

Olive green, dark brown and gray are the possible colors of the Dice snake and they have dark spots on their back. They are medium to large in size, and females are bigger than males. Their stomachs are brightly colored yellow or orange with balck spots.

In the water dice snakes feed off of frogs, tadpoles and other amphibians they find. This snake is not aggressive and will generally not bite. They are shy and try to avoid humans. If frightened they will play dead or, or release a foul.

16. Dahls Whipsnake

Dahls Whipsnake (Platyceps najadum)
Dahls Whipsnake (Platyceps najadum)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Platyceps najadum
  • Other Names: slender whipsnake, zagros whipsnake
  • Adult Size: 30-40 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The Dahls Whipsnake lives on the Greek Isles of Chios, Samos, Corfu and other parts of Europe. This snake inhabits deserts, rocky areas, forests and woodlands. They are one of the fastests snakes in Europe and are named after the Austrian entomologist Georg Dahl.

Dahls snakes are slender and elegant. They have small heads and big eyes. Their head and neck are olive gray with dark spots. The rest of their body fades into a brownish color and their belly is bright yellow.

It uses its fast speed to catch lizards and small rodents. They breed in May/June and hatch in fall. This species is hard to keep as a pet but is sometimes captured to be traded.

17. Dwarf Snake

Dwarf Snake (Kalaentzis Eirenis modestus Symi)
Dwarf Snake (Kalaentzis Eirenis modestus Symi) – source
  • Experience Level: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Eirenis modestus
  • Other Names: ring-headed dwarf snake
  • Adult Size: 15-25 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The dwarf snake can be found on the Greek islands of Samos, Chios, Alzoniss and other Mediterranean islands. They are sometimes called ring-headed dwarf snakes and they are found in dry shrubby areas, open fields, and woodlands. In the day they hide under rocks and in crevices. When twilight comes they begin to hunt.

Dwarf snakes are small and thin. They have yellowish or gray scales which are darker around the edges. The top of their head has a dark blotch with white spots on it. Around their neck is a crescent shaped band of blotches.

Spiders, centipedes, scorpions, lizards and insects are what this species survives on. Dwarf snakes are well adaptable and can be found in many different habitats. They have a healthy population and no imminent threats.

18. Coin Marked Snake

Coin Marked Snake (Coluber nummifer)
Coin Marked Snake (Coluber nummifer) – source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Coluber nummifer
  • Other Names: Hemorrhois nummifer
  • Adult Size: 45-60 inches
  • Lifespan: N/A
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Coined marked snakes can be found on the Greek Mainland and the islands of Rhodes andSamos. This species is medium-sized and has a long thin tail. Their scales are keeled and rough with camoflauge to help blend into the environment. It gets its name from the bright brown spots, which look similar to a coin. 

This snake is active during the day and spends most of its time hunting lizards, rodents, insects and birds. It is similar in appearance to a viper but has no venom and is harmless to humans. 

19. Worm Snake

Western Wormsnake on forest floor (Carphophis vermis)
Western Wormsnake on forest floor (Carphophis vermis)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Carphophis
  • Other Names: American Worm snake
  • Adult Size: 13-14 inches
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Average Price Range: $20

Worm Snakes can be found on the Greek Isles of Samos and Corfu. This species is very similar to an earthworm, also living in the soil. They live in areas with loose moist soil and spend most of their time underground.

This species is brown, small and thin. Its head is small and similar to its tail, but has two small eyes. On its tail is a pointed tip which helps the snake climb and move around.

Its body is smooth and glossy. Small insects are their main source of food. This species is secretive and rare to find in the wild, even with a healthy population.

20. Black Whip Snake

Lesser Black Whip Snake (Demansia vestigiata)
Lesser Black Whip Snake (Demansia vestigiata) – source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Elapidae
  • Scientific Name: Demansia vestigiata
  • Other Names: lesser black whipsnake
  • Adult Size: 30-45 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Black whip snakes can be found on the island of Rhodes in greece. They inhabit open woodlands, savannas, forests, grasslands and coastal heaths. They are active mostly during the day and are mildly venomous.

Blakc whip snakes have slender bodies and thin tails. They are a brick color with white spots covering them. As they age they turn into a dark black color. Its neck is thick and its eyes are large and round.

These snakes hunt on rats, small mammals and lizards they find in the wild. Farmers used to buy these snakes to help with the rodent population. It can also climb trees to look for eggs and birds to eat. While they are aggressive and may bite, they are generally harmless to humans.

21. Nose-Horned Viper

Noe-Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes)
Noe-Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes)
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Scientific Name: Vipera ammodytes
  • Other Names: long-nosed viper, horned viper, sand viper
  • Adult Size: 30-37 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

Nose-Horned Vipers inhabit the Corfu, Samos and Kefalonia Greek isles in dry rocky areas with low vegetation. They can also live in forests, farms, vineyards and near railways.

This species is active both in the day and night but as temperatures rise it becomes more active at night. In winter you will not likely see this species since they hibernate.

The large single horn on this snake’s nose is where it gets its name from. The nose-horned viper is a medium sized snake with keeled scales on its body and face.

This snake can have gray, brown, yellowish or bronze in color. A dark dorsal pattern runs down their back which is sometimes edged in black. Males have a black blotch on their head and are more gray in color. Pink or pale is the color of their belly.

Nose horned vipers are considered one of the deadliest snakes in Greece due to their large fangs and deadly venom. Small mammals are birds that this snake commonly feeds upon, swallowing their prey while without the use of venom.

Nose horned vipers are not aggressive and will only bite if messed with constantly. Hissing and fleeing are common traits when approached.

Wrapping up

21 different snakes live in Greece and on the Greek isles. There are over 200 different Greek isles, but many of them have the same species and silmar habitats. Some of the snakes on this list are very similar and can be identified by color, behavior and habitat.

In Greece many people and tourists are surprised to see so many snakes running about. Hepring is great in Greece since so many species are accustomed to human presence. Human persecution is the cause of many snake deaths. If found in the wild it is best to enjoy their beauty from a distance. Most snakes are harmless and will only bite when provoked.

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