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Reptiles of the Northern Velebit National Park

Reptiles of the Northern Velebit National Park

As many as 16 species of reptiles have so far been identified in the Park, the most common being lizards: Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis), Horvath’s Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta horvathi), Viviparous Lizard (Lacerta vivipara) and the Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis), and snakes: Western Whip Snake (Hierophis viridiflavus), Aesculapian Snake (Zamenis longissimus), European Ratsnake (Zamenis situla) and Nose-Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes). To be found near water is also the Grass Snake (Natrix natrix).


Horvaths Rock Lizard Iberolacerta horvathi

Horvath’s Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta horvathi) – genus reptiles

Native to the Velebit mountain, Horvath’s Rock Lizard is a petrophilic species inhabiting rocks, cliffs and other stony grounds. It has a very restricted habitat and is also found in east Alps and the northern regions of the Dinarides. It is present in high mountains in areas up to the upper boundary of forest vegetation (up to 1600 m above sea level). In Velebit, it was first identified around Mrkvište and Veliki Alan by Miroslav Hirtz in 1908. Horvath’s Rock Lizard is a strictly protected species.

European Ratsnake Zamenis situla

European Ratsnake (Zamenis situla) – genus reptiles

European Ratsnake is among the most beautiful non-venomous snakes in Croatia. It is found on the coast-facing side of the Park in dry, rocky habitats overgrown with shrubs. It moves relatively fast and is active during the day, and sometimes also at dusk. Young snakes feed on insects, while adults feed on rodents and small reptiles. European Ratsnakes suffocate their prey by constriction. They are often mistaken for venomous snakes because of their colorful body and people often kill them out of fear and ignorance. European Ratsnake was once very common, but is today much harder to encounter in nature. It is a strictly protected species and is listed in the Red List of Reptiles in Croatia under the Data Deficient category..

Aesculapian Snake Zamenis longissimus

Aesculapian Snake (Zamenis longissimus) – genus reptiles

This up to 2-meter long, non-venomous, slander snake is among the longest snakes in Europe. Adults can be brownish, grayish-green, sometimes almost black, with white-edged scales, especially at mid body. The belly is yellow to whitish. Aesculapian Snake can move very fast and is agile in climbing trees and bushes. It feeds on mice, voles, sometimes squirrels, lizards and smaller birds. It suffocates its prey by constriction. The name of this snake refers to the Greek god of healing Aesculapius (lat. Aesculape). Entwined around Aesculapius’s rod, this snake is the symbol of medicine and pharmacy. In Croatia, Aesculapian Snake is a strictly protected species.

Nose Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes) - genus reptiles

Nose-Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes) – genus reptiles

Nose-Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes)
Nose-Horned Viper is Europe’s largest venomous snake. It normally resides in dry, rocky areas covered with low shrubs and trees, and avoids wet habitats. Its distinctive characteristics are its relatively short, heavily built body, its slightly triangular head, a dark zigzag line running along the back and a single horn on the snout. Males are usually grey and females are brown. Nose-Horned Viper locates its prey, primarily rodents, birds and lizards, by smell and mostly lies in wait for the prey. It normally hunts at night, and spends the day curled up sleeping and digesting the food. The prey is first killed by venom and then swallowed. Nose-Horned Viper hibernates in colder regions. In Croatia it is a protected species.

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