Snakes in Portugal

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Portugal is populated by a wide variety of snakes which can be found across the whole country. There are no “dangerous” species of snake in Portugal, and most bites are on humans’ hands as they attempt to capture the animal. Of all the possible snakes you might encounter in Portugal, these 5 should be kept an eye out for!

1) European Rat Snake

this snake is found anywhere there is water in sufficient quantity and can grow up to 4 metres long. Primarily nocturnal, it is very shy and will generally run away when approached by a human. This snake is not venomous and its bites are considered harmless to humans.

2) Slow Worm

A legless lizard that looks like a snake. They are usually grey in colour, but can be found in browns and blacks as well. This animal has a very small head, a thick body, and powerful rear fangs. Don’t be fooled by its lack of legs, however, because it can deliver a nasty bite if handled.

3) The European Grass Snake

The most famous of the three species of snake that look like rattlesnakes in Portugal. With a length of around 1 meter, it is the largest species in this category. It is usually brown and yellow or darker brown and has a broad head. This snake is completely harmless to humans and lives almost exclusively on frogs and other small reptiles.

4) The Black Whip Snake

With around the same body length as a grass snake, this snake is not aggressive and will almost always hide when approached. It has dark olive body which speckled with lighter yellow spots. It is not venomous and its bites are harmless to humans.

5) The Long-tailed Viper

A very venomous viper species found across Portugal, but primarily in the north of the country. It has a narrow head and a brown body colour. This snake is not aggressive and generally prefers to escape rather than face humans directly. Its venom can be deadly to humans if not treated immediately after an attack.

Most of the snakes in Portugal are not venomous, but all snake bites should be taken seriously and treatment should be sought immediately. The most common cause of snake bites in Portugal is humans attempting to capture the animal with their hands and getting bitten. This can also be avoided by being extra vigilant in areas where there could be snakes.

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