Key points about this information item Snakes of the Midi-Pyrenees and south west FranceInformation Description:
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.
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
Image by Jwinius - Wikimedia Commons
Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca)
Identified by a dark line running through the eyes from the neck
Image by Der Irbis- Wikimedia Commons
Western whip snake (Hierophis viridiflavus)
Black with yellow spots on the body
Image by Manfred Heyde- Wikimedia Commons
Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus)
Uniform coloured, usually with light spots
Image by FelixReiman- Wikimedia Commons
Viperine snake (Natrix maura)
Zig zag dorsal pattern
Image by Karkov - Wikimedia Commons
Grass snake (Natrix natrix)
Identifiable by the yellow collar
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.
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
Garden and landscaping centre, Boulogne-sur-Gesse, Haute-Garonne, Midi-Pyrenees