Snakes of the Midi-Pyrenees and south west France

Category: Midi-Pyrenees - Useful Information
Snakes of Midi-Pyrenees
Asp Viper is only venomous snake in Midi-Pyrenees

Key points about this information item Snakes of the Midi-Pyrenees and south west France



Snakes of Midi-Pyrenees and south west France


There are a wide variety of animals in the Midi-Pyrenees and snakes are no exception.  As in the UK, there is only one venomous snake, the Asp Viper.


The chances of getting bitten by a venomous snake in south west France are similar to that of the UK as the snakes are rather timid and secretive, preferring to move away from you than attack. 


Most commonly, people are bitten either when attempting to pick up and handle a snake or if you surprise the snake; for example, a popular hiding place for snakes is wood piles, so next time you go to collect the wood, keep your eyes open!


If you are bitten, it is essential that medical help is sought right away.  Although very few fatalities are caused through snake bites in France, it is possible, so the sooner you go to hospital the better.  Fatalities have been reported in adults, but children, older adults and pets are at a slightly higher risk.


The only venomous snake in Midi-Pyrenees is the Asp Viper.  This snake is identified by it’s triangulated, flattened head.  It is small, commonly only growing to around 30 – 40 cm, but can be as long as 75cm. 


Emergency contact numbers


If you are bitten by a snake, then go to the nearest Emergency centre if you know where it is or call the medical services on either 15 or 112.



Types of snake in the Midi-Pyrenees


Asp viper (Vipera aspis)

Slightly upturned snout

Asp viper

Image by Jwinius - Wikimedia Commons



Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca)

Identified by a dark line running through the eyes from the neck

Smooth snake

Image by Der Irbis- Wikimedia Commons


Western whip snake (Hierophis viridiflavus)

Black with yellow spots on the body

Western whip snake

Image by Manfred Heyde- Wikimedia Commons


Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus)

Uniform coloured, usually with light spots

Aesculapian snake

Image by  FelixReiman- Wikimedia Commons


Viperine snake (Natrix maura) 

Zig zag dorsal pattern

Viperine snake

Image by Karkov - Wikimedia Commons


Grass snake (Natrix natrix)

Identifiable by the yellow collar

Grass snake

Image by Fafner- Wikimedia Commons



Slow worm (Anguis fragilis)

Often confused as a snake, but is in fact a limbless lizard.  Harmless, although will bite if caught, but they don’t have a strong bite.

Slow worm

Image by James T M Towill - Wikimedia Commons



Useful resources online


HerpFrance – A great resource for anyone interested in reptiles and Amphibians in France.


EuroHerp – Photos and field reports for anyone interested in reptiles in Europe


PlanetPassion – A site dedicated to the wildlife of France




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