I am usually not too squeamish when it comes to insects, but snakes… ewww…
Last week, I was walking in the garden at the side of the house when a snake, about 1.5m long, slithered onto the path in front of me. I froze in terror as it reared up and then zig-zagged towards me at great speed. Despite sporting a debilitating injury to my knee, I turned on sixpence and sprinted in the other direction. It’s incredible how the body reacts when faced with danger! My mind, however, was about to black-out in sheer terror as I screamed like a demented banshee.
I think my new friend is either an Iberian false smooth snake (Macroprotodon brevis) or grass snake. Maybe I’ll just call it Sam.
The last time I was this close to a snake it decided to join me for a swim and I launched myself like a rocket out of the pool in one athletic leap. And trust me when I tell you, my body is more grounded whale than athletic.
The snakes I’ve happened upon in Portugal so far have not been aggressive. But this beauty…phew.
I will also add my husband saw a snake on the road outside our house about a month ago. When he tried to ignore it and walk past it reared up, before slithering under our garden gate and into the hedge.
I knew it would only be a matter of time before we came into contact.
After extensive research I think the snake is either a False smooth snake (Macroprotodon cucullatus) which is a mildly venomous snake, or a grass snake. Given that Wikipedia states that grass snakes
‘They may perform an aggressive display in defence, hissing and striking without opening the mouth’
Grass snakes display a rare but known defensive behavior involving raising the front of the body and flattening the head and neck so that it resembles a cobra’s hood, although the geographic ranges of grass snakes and of cobras overlap very little.
I am going to opt for the grass snake. IT certainly raised its body and flattened its head
False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon cucullatus)
Grass Snake (Natrix natrix)
Horseshoe Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis)
Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris)
Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)
Southern Smooth Snake (Coronella girondica)
Viperine Water Snake (Natrix maura)
Western False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon brevis)
Montpelier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)
Lataste’s Viper (Vipera latastei)
Portuguese Viper (Vipera seoanei)