About the snakes that can be found in France

The purpose of these fact pages is to provide basic information for everyday use about the species of snakes in France and where they are to be found.

When it comes to the subject of snakes there is often an enormous amount of fear, misunderstanding and dislike from all sections of the community and they are frequently persecuted in France which is a source of great concern as the populations of most species decline. 

In France most species of snake are either completely harmless or in the case of the venomous snakes extremely unlikely to cause real harm or death to anyone that isn't susceptible. In fact in France, on average, about one person every ten years actually dies as a result of snake bite envenomation, (poisoning by venom). 

Snakes are not normally easy to approach and will usually flee as a person approaches, I have great difficulty observing them even when “creeping around”, so heavy footsteps and brushing any undergrowth with a stick should clear the way if you are nervous.

Phobias are understandable and not something a person chooses to have but however much you may dislike or fear them it's really important to understand that Snakes play an important role in our environment being both predator and prey, without them many other species would suffer or as in the case of the Short toed eagle not even be able to breed in France.

Their role as predator is described in the species lists, but it is equally important to realise that they also provide food for many species of bird and mammal; Harriers, Falcons, Herons, Magpies, Owls, Eagles, Foxes, Marten, Wild Boar and even frogs are some of the species which profit from "having a bit of snake" in their diet. 

Show a bit of caution when moving objects which are possible hiding places, don’t plunge your hand into the water meter box or other inspection point without first checking that it is empty and don’t walk around where you can’t see properly with bare feet and legs. Log piles are a frequent hiding place - even in winter.

Should you receive a bite from an Asp Viper or Adder don't panic.

You can call any of the emergency numbers for help.

Dial.   15 for SAMU.   17 for Police.     18 for Pompiers. 

Many defensive bites are "dry" or have little venom actually released, however medical assistance should always be sought due to the risk of infection.

Your pets and animals are also vulnerable to snake bite, if you suspect that your animal has been injured by a snake contact your vet without delay.

The regional information gives the main areas of distribution, species may be found outside of these areas as result of climate change or perhaps as a result of accidental or deliberate transportation.