Snakes In Portugal: Names, Types, Species

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

· 4 min read

Snakes in Portugal are found in various species. The country is home to a variety of fascinating snake species, each with its unique characteristics and habitats. From the venomous Montpellier snake to the elusive Iberian worm snake, the diverse landscape of the country offers ample opportunities to see these reptiles. Whether you're a nature enthusiast or simply curious about the wildlife in Portugal, learning about the types of snakes in the region provides valuable insight into its ecological richness.

Types of Snakes In Portugal

There are various types of snakes in Portugal that include Ladder snakes, Horseshoe whip, Viperine water, Montpellier, False Smooth, Iberian Worm Lizard, and Seoane’s Viper

This article will cover all the fascinating variety of snakes around Portugal. So if you are an animal enthusiast, then you must visit portugal and see around the wide variety of wildlife.

You will gain a deeper understanding of these amazing reptiles with the full descriptions provided for each of the snake species. Also, information on their sizes, unique colors, and markings is explained. 

The article also highlights the significance of properly identifying snakes in Portugal and obtaining health care if bitten, as some of them are dangerous.

Small snake

Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris)

One of the most widely found snakes in Portugal is the ladder snake. It is also known as Rhinechis scalaris.

 It is a medium-sized snake and comes under the category of non-poisonous snakes of Portugal. The size averages to 1.5 meters with a maximum length of 160 cm (63 in). 

The body of this snake has ladder-like markings along its back and its slim, brownish yellow just like its name.

In both the Azores and mainland Portugal, the ladder snake finds its home. This species is commonly found in woodlands, forests, and rocky areas throughout the country. Being an expert climber, this snake is frequently seen on rocks or in trees. 

Horseshoe Whip Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis)

Horseshoe Whip Snakes, scientifically known as Hemorrhois hippocrepis, typically reach an average length of 160 cm (62 in).

As they grow older, they become darker in color.  Mostly they are found in gray, yellow and olive colors.

These snakes have a row of oval, dark points on the back with small areas of darkness. They also have a dark band between the eyes and a dark horseshoe-shaped mark on the neck.

The Horseshoe whip snake has a narrow body and a head that is larger than its neck. There is a row of tiny scales beneath the large, circular pupil of the eye.

Horseshoe snake

Viperine Water Snake (Natrix maura)

The viperine snake is scientifically known as Natrix maura.Usually, the viperine snakes have a length of 70 to 100 cm.

This snake looks like vipers and has a thin, medium-sized body structure. These are not poisonous.

It also has brownish and blackish dark spots running through its back.

Portugal's mainland as well as the small islands of Madeira and the Azores are home to the viperine snake. It is frequently found in wetlands, which include lakes, ponds, and rivers. 

Water Viper

Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

Scientifically known as Malpolon monspessulanus, Montpellier Snakes are not poisonous. Montpellier Snakes are big sized snakes. These can grow up to 2 meters in length.

The Montpellier Snake is common in southern Europe, which includes Portugal. It lives in a range of environments, including rocky places, grasslands, and woodlands.

The Montpellier Snake lives mainly in Alentejo and Algarve. Also, it is often found  in Azores and Madeira. This snake can be found in bushes and trees.

Western Montepellier Snakes

False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon brevis)

Macroprotodon brevis is the scientific name for the False Smooth Snake. False Smooth Snakes are tiny snakes. They have an average length of 30 to 60 cm.

Its body is slim, with brown or pale grey coloring. These snakes are not poisonous and hence no harm to humans

Portugal's mainland as well as the islands of Madeira and the Azores are home to this snake. It usually inhabits arid environments like rocky hillsides and sandy patches.

Western False Smooth snake

Seoane's Viper (Vipera seoanei)

These snakes are called Vipera Seoanei, and they can be harmful to people. They are around 60 to 75 cm long and are often called Baskian vipers.

These are a kind of venomous snakes. You can find them mostly in France, Portugal, and Spain.

These vipers usually have light-colored backs with darker zigzag or straight stripes. You can often see them in forests, grasslands, and shrubby areas.

Baskian Viper

Iberian Worm Lizard (Blanus cinereus)

Blanus cinereus, the scientific name for the Iberian Worm Lizard. It is a tiny snake with an average length of 15 to 25 centimeters.

These snakes are pinkish-brown in appearance, and their scales are smooth. They have a cylindrical shaped body.

Portugal's mainland as well as the islands of Madeira and the Azores are home to this snake. It is frequently found in agricultural fields, gardens, and wooded regions. 

Most Venomous Snakes in Portugal

Most venomous snakes in Portugal are Lataste's Viper (Vipera latastei) and Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus). Every detail of these species are mentioned in detail below.

The snakes found in Portugal hardly have venom in them. Still there are few species which are poisonous and harmful to humans.

Lataste's Viper (Vipera latastei)

Scientifically known as Vipera latastei, it has a length of around 60 cm. These are mostly beige, dark grey, or light to dark brown colored having zig zags lines on back.

Lataste's Vipers can be found in southwestern Portugal including at various altitudes. They can be found on sunny rocky slopes in the Sierra Nevada, open deciduous forests, rocky places with stone walls, and coastal dunes with umbrella pines.

Lataste's vipers are poisonous, and their venom is strong. Therefore it is dangerous to humans and hence precautions must be taken while traveling to Portugal.

Venomous Viper

Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

At up to two meters in length, the Montpellier snake is the largest snake in both Europe and the coast of Spain.

Male adults have uniform colors ranging from light to dark grey to olive green to brown, with a long, thin tail.

This species has venom.

For humans, the Montpellier snake poses no threat. The venom is not very harmful, and the back teeth lessen the chance of venom injection.

Common Portuguese Snake Species 

Common Portuguese Snake species are Montpellier and Iberian worm snakes.

Montpellier snake

The Montpellier Snake is found primarily in southern Portugal, specifically in the Alentejo and Algarve. It can also be found on a number of islands, such as the Azores and Madeira.

This snake is a skilled climber that is frequently spotted in bushes and trees, where it looks for food. It is mostly a diurnal snake, which means that daytime is when it is most active.

A range of food, including small animals, birds, reptiles, and even other snakes, are consumed by the Montpellier Snake, which is recognized for its opportunistic feeding habits.

Despite its massive size and intimidating look, the Montpellier Snake is not poisonous and is completely safe to humans.

Iberian worm snake

This snake can be found all across Portugal, including the mainland, Madeira, and the Azores. Being a nocturnal species, the Iberian worm snake is mostly active at night.

Humans are unable to be injured by the non-venomous Iberian worm snake. It spends the majority of its time below, searching the earth for earthworms and other small invertebrates to eat.

Because of its small size, the bite is not harmful. It is a shy creature that people don't often come across.

Frequently Asked Questions on Snakes In Portugal

1. What types of snakes can be found in Portugal?

Types of snakes found in Portugal are Ladder snakes, Horseshoe whip, Viperine water, Montpellier, False Smooth, Iberian Worm Lizard, and Seoane’s Viper.

2. Are there venomous snakes in Portugal?

Yes, there are venomous snakes in Portugal. Most venomous snakes in Portugal are Lataste's Viper (Vipera latastei) and Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus).

3. Where are the best places to spot snakes in Portugal?

The best places to spot snakes in Portugal are southern Portugal and the islands of Azores and Madeira. They are mostly found in shrubs, trees and bushes.

4. How do snakes in Portugal contribute to the local ecosystem?

Snakes in Portugal contribute to the local ecosystem by eating the worms and small insects to maintain the food chain.

5. What should I do if I encounter a snake in Portugal?

If you encounter a snake in Portugal, you must immediately visit a doctor or ask for help from people around you.

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

I am a globe-trotter with a passion for exploration. From the sun-kissed coasts of Portugal to the snow-capped peaks of Switzerland, my travels are as diverse as they are inspiring. My journeys through Spain, Finland, Austria, and Germany have fueled my soul and shaped my writing.