Snakes on a Plain

Snake encounters have been increasing on Mallorca – and not just on the plain (the flatter central area known in the local language as the pla). Local media reports have revealed that people in 14 municipalities on Mallorca had found unusually large snakes … mostly in urban areas.

One friend posted a picture on Facebook of a snake she’d found in her garden in an area of Santa Ponsa. To someone who doesn’t know much about snakes (that’ll be me, then), it looked like something that had escaped from a zoo or exotic pet shop – in other words, rather large and bearing distinctive markings. My friend didn’t seem too happy to be sharing her urban garden with this creature. She was lucky: other people have been startled by finding these snakes in their store rooms, garages, basements, and water tanks.

The Horseshoe Whip Snake

While at the vet’s yesterday buying more kidney-diet food for our cat Minstral, we were talking to one of the veterinary nurses about snakes and she told us that Horseshoe Whip Snakes (not native to the island) are increasingly being found on Mallorca – having come onto the island in trees imported from the peninsula.  They seem to be breeding very successfully.

Because of the very hot weather we’ve been having, these snakes have been seeking out cool places, such as garages, store rooms, cellars etc. Only last week, someone found a Horseshoe Whip Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis) allegedly measuring two-and-a-half metres in length – although I’ve read that they usually grow to up to a maximum of 1.5 metres.

Coincidentally, it was in Capdepera, back in May, that we saw a few snakes amongst the attractions at the annual medieval market in the northeast Mallorca hilltop town. I’ve no idea what type of snakes were being wrapped around bystanders’ necks but, then, I didn’t get close enough to find out (thank goodness for long lenses).

Man with snake

It’s a wrap!

A little girl discovers that snakes don’t feel slimy.

Snakes at our Finca

Our own encounters with snakes at the finca have been few. My first was while weeding in a damp and shady area of our finca that we call Marie’s Garden (after the former owner, who created it). As I moved close to one of the large rocks dotted around here, a snake suddenly darted out from its shelter and slithered away at great speed. It happened so quickly that I didn’t note too many details about its appearance, except that it wasn’t particularly large. It did make me jump though …

Not long afterwards, on another part of our land, I found part of a snake’s skin that had been shed; something I’d never seen before. Rural life has introduced me to many new experiences. Sadly, most of our snake sightings have been roadkill; not everyone is as careful as we are to avoid hitting wildlife that ventures onto the roads.

What to do if you find a Horseshoe Whip Snake

These non-venomous snakes are not considered dangerous to people, although they can bite and are a tad feisty. The authorities recommend that you report any findings to COFIB by phoning 971 144 107 and presumably they’ll come and remove them.

©Jan Edwards 2017

17 thoughts on “Snakes on a Plain

  1. Ooooo.. I can’t help but scream if I suddenly see a snake, even what we call a “garter” snake, a harmless and supposedly beneficial one. I do remember the FIRST AND ONLY time I actually touched a boa at the school where I worked. Its skin was soft and slidey, not slippery, and I was fascinated by it. Still….I don’t want to see them at all. Where we live, they say it’s too high altitude for rattlesnakes to live. I hope that’s true!

  2. Just discovered your excellent web site. Congratulations.

    We have a house just outside Bunyola and visit for about a week most months. We think the island beautfiful and enjoy exploring. Tomorrow we are going to walk from Soller to Deia which is one of our favourite walks.

    The neighbours in our commune are all Mallorcan and we struggle with the language and our neighbours although all friendly are very family oriented. We want to expand our acquaintances so if any of your subscribers are in the Bunyola or Santa Maria area we would be interested in meeting with them.

    We are active in the international community here but would like to be more active. My wife has presented a paper to the Palma puppetry festival and is a special guest next month at the Villafranca festival.

    Best wishes

    • Hello Max!
      Thank you for your message and for your kind words about the site.

      You have a home in a lovely part of the island – ideal for getting around and seeing Mallorca. I hope you enjoyed your Soller to Deia walk; I absolutely love Deia and can never go often enough!

      Puppetry! Now there’s an interesting subject for your wife, who will perhaps be able to get involved in the annual festival. Let’s hope so.

      It can take a while to get to know people here; we have failed to get to grips with ‘mallorquin’ and have to use ‘castellano’, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. I hope if anyone else reading this on Mallorca wants to get in touch with you they will add a note here on the site.

      Let’s keep in touch anyway.

      Best wishes, Jan

  3. Hello,The snake u mentioned from 2.5 meters is the Montpellier snake wich reach 2.5 meters and not the horseshoe whip snake.
    in Mallorca u can find four kinds of snakes wich are all harmless to humans.U can find (Hemorrhois hippocrepis/Horseshoe whip_snake,Malpolon monspessulanus/The Montpellier snake, Macroprotodon mauritanicus/False Smooth Snake and Rhinechis scalaris/Ladder snake).
    I hope to find a next June some and send u a picture if i do so.
    I just found this blog and have lots to read,very nice blog!

    Best Wishes,Ray(Groningen/The Netherlands)

  4. Yikes! At least they aren’t dangerous! Imagine how scared you would be if they were poisonous! What peninsular do they come from and are these pictures of the Horse Whip snake ?

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