Montpellier snake

Malpolon monspessulanus

Couleuvre de Montpellier

The Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) is an opisthoglyphous snake rarely implicated in human envenomation because the anatomy of its venom apparatus is generally unsuitable for venom delivery to large mammals.

Montpellier snakes can attain a length of more than 2 metres and have a menacing and ferocious appearance. They have large eyes with round pupils surrounded by clearly visible rims. They have a thick body which in adults is a dark grey/green, underside lighter and often yellowish with darker marks.

They are the only venomous Couleuvre to be found in France, but as its venom fangs are fixed and set at the back of the mouth it is unlikely to cause problems for humans unless they poked their fingers into its mouth . In the unlikely event of being bitten the result would be extremely painful but not dangerous for most individuals. A bite will result in stiffness and swelling where bitten and a state of general lethargy and weakness, this would normally last a day or two but  BE SAFE - GET MEDICAL ATTENTION.

Montpellier snake hatchling
Hatchling Montpellier snake France
Adult Montpellier snake France

They are only to found in the Mediterranean region of France where they normally spend their time on the ground in hot arid areas with some shrubby low growth for cover. They can be seen on rocks, stone walls, in vineyards, open woodland or by the side of rivers. Their diet is mostly lizards, but they also eat small mammals up to the size of rabbits, killing by venom.

They are generally discrete, fearful and have a dislike of water. When provoked accidentally they become very aggressive, inflating their neck, often rising up like a cobra, hissing loudly and invariably trying to bite.
Coupling takes place in April/May and 8 weeks later up to 20 eggs are laid under leaf litter or stones where they take about 50 days to incubate.

Hibernation takes place from October/November until March.

All French snakes are fully protected species

Overall this is a species that is not considered be endangered throughout its geographical range although habitat loss and human persecution are always a concern.

All snakes are protected species in France.