Remember Indiana Jones? This guy was as tough as nails and he never backed out of a fight even when seriously outgunned. His chin was chiselled out of granite. If you knocked him down he just got back up again, madder than he was before. He was scared of absolutely nothing.

Except snakes.

He ended up in a great big pit of snakes in Raiders of the Lost Ark and nearly wet himself! What a sissy!

But let´s not hold that against him. Being afraid of snakes is a very natural response in human beings and it seems to be hard-wired into our brains and the brains of several other primates. This seems entirely understandable. Snakes are potentially dangerous in many parts of the world. But here in Spain we have little reason to fear them.

My old mate Harry Abbott was kind enough to respond to an earlier post in which I described Steve Lawler´s recent encounter with a snake while out on Concepción reservoir. Harry knows a great deal about Spanish snakes (and about Spanish wildlife in general) and is very keen to remind us that they pose little threat. I attach below a little bit from a message he sent me:


“Now everybody is preoccupied by the thoughts of poisonous snakes and we do have  two snakes  the Montpelliers snake with venom but not potent venom …..more akin to the venom in a wasp or hornet sting ….it certainly isn’t going to kill a healthy human (which is why you never read of anyone killed by snakebite in Spain)…… just doesn’t happen!
 The only one you are likely to see is the Montpelliers Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) and it will be more scared of you than you are of it! The other venomous snake in Andalucia is the  Lataste Viper which is now a scarce snake of mountain areas and its venom is unpleasant but not deadly to a normal healthy human.”
I´m with Harry on treating snakes with respect. I come across them only from time to time and am always very happy to see them. I have seen a dead Montpellier snake on a couple of occasions. One of them had been killed by the locals on the edge of Villafranco and thrown onto a telegraph wire. I think I have seen a Lataste´s viper once, several years ago, sunning itself just at the back of our house. It was soon on its way and I never saw it again.
The generally secretive habits of snakes mean that we see them infrequently, most often crossing roads and paths where they are unable to use cover to conceal themselves.
On the Guadalhorce on Tuesday evening I saw a raptor (a booted eagle I think) with a small snake in its beak and I know that other raptors, particularly short-toed eagles are very partial to them. So too are Egyptian mongoose which are present in Spain.
Here are a couple of pictures of our venomous snakes. If you come near them, chances are they will simply slip away unseen.
This is a Montpellier snake. This is Spain´s largest snake and can grow to 2 metres. This lovely photo was taken from this site:

This is a Montpellier snake. This is Spain´s largest snake and can grow to 2 metres. This lovely photo was taken from this site: