WL:\Animals\Reptiles\Snakes>


Snakes

Snakes are superbly adapted for their life on the ground. With long, cylindrical bodies and without legs, to get in the way, they can squeeze into narrow openings, between stones even follow rodents down their burrows in search of prey. They prove you don’t need legs to move fast as, with their strong muscular bodies, they can power along on the ground, in trees and, for some species, in water. Fierce predators they are very important in the ecosystem as they prey on rodents, insects, other reptiles and birds. They provide us with a valuable service, as they keep down rats and mice and other agricultural pest.

click to enlarge

Of course one of their weapons in the predator – prey battle is venom, a mixture of complex toxic compounds injected by some species into prey by hollow fangs. A few species are dangerous to man and this has brought the whole group into the firing line when it comes to people. However the safest way to deal with snakes is to leave them alone. This is mostly quite easy as when out on our walk in the country, mostly all you see of them is a tail disappearing into the undergrowth – they are scared of us too!

Illustrated below are some of Lebanon’s snakes that you might see when out and about, remember watch and keep at least 2m away, do not provoke them or try to kill or injure them:


click to enlarge
 
Large Whip Snake
Coluber jugularis
Size: largest snake in Lebanon up to 2 m +
Where found: Widespread in Lebanon up to 1000m. Dry open places, meadows, rocky river banks, stony slopes, fields and wetlands.
Diet: rodents, birds, chicks and lizards
Relations with man: not poisonous but will bite, useful in agricultural pest control
click to enlarge
 
Dahl’s Whip Snake
Coluber najadum
Size: a slender, long snake up to 140 cm
Where found: up to 1800m Dry stony places with bushes
Diet: Lizards and insects
Relations with man: harmless
click to enlarge
 
Red Whip Snake
Coluber rubriceps
Size: a slender snake up to 1m long
Where found: up to 1500m Dry rocky places but not very high rocky slopes sometimes in cultivated land
Diet: Lizards and insects
Relations with man: not poisonous but will bite – very quick moving
click to enlarge
 
Dwarf Snake
Eirenis levantina
Size: as its name suggests a small snake
Where found: up to 1500m In a mixture of habitats
Diet: insects and other invertebrates
Relations with man: harmless
click to enlarge
 
Four-lined Rat Snake
Elaphe quatrolineata
Size: A large snake up to 2m
Where found: up to 2500m Woodland, rocky places, cultivation
Diet: small rodents, birds and eggs
Relations with man: harmless to man but useful as it eats rodent pests
click to enlarge
 
Montpellier Snake
Malpolon monspessulanus
Size: A slender bodied, narrow headed snake up to 2m
Where found: up to 1500m Open, sparsely vegetated rocky and dry habitats
Diet: lizards, small mammals and birds
Relations with man: its prey are killed by venom, however its fangs are small and at the back of the upper jaw, so not very effective on humans
click to enlarge
 
Dice Snake
Natrix tessellata
Size: A slender necked snake up to 140 cm
Where found: up to 2500m Strongly aquatic living in or near water bodies
Diet: mostly fish and frogs
Relations with man: harmless
click to enlarge
 
Blunt-nosed Viper
Vipera lebetina
Size: a stout snake with and adult total length 130 to 180 cm
Where found: up to 2000m Meadows and pastures, rocky places and ruins, mostly nocturnal
Diet: small rodents, birds, lizards and snakes
Relations with man: Poisonous – can be fatal if not treated. However this species will not strike if not disturbed.
click to enlarge
 
Palestinian Viper
Vipera palaestina
Size: a large stout bodied viper, max. length 130 cm
Where found: light oak forests but also secondary man made habitats such as orchards, gardens and fields, mostly nocturnal
Diet: small rodents, birds and lizards
Relations with man: Poisonous – can be fatal if not treated.
Photos courtesy of R. Sadek
BACK TO TOP