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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Montpellier snake
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Malpolon
Species: M. monspessulanus
Binomial name
Malpolon monspessulanus
Hermann, 1804

Malpolon monspessulanus, commonly known as the Montpellier snake, is very common throughout the Mediterranean basin.[2] The snake's specific name is a Latinized form of Montpellier, a city in southern France.[3] It is up to 2.00 metres (7 ft) long and may weigh up to 1.5 kilograms (3 lb). It is active during the day and mainly feeds on lizards.[2]

Although it is venomous, only a few cases of poisoning of humans are known, one of which occurred when a finger was inserted into the snake's mouth. The poison is not very dangerous; symptomatic treatment suffices to treat a poisoning.[4] The unthreatening nature of the snake along with very mild persecution by man, has made it one of the more common species throughout its range, even in areas occupied by humans.



Genetic evidence suggests that the species originated in the Maghreb, migrating into southwestern Europe between 83,000 and 168,000 years ago and into southeastern Europe and western Asia at an earlier time.[2] It is most closely related to the North African and Arabian species Malpolon moilensis and to a fossil species from the Pliocene of Spain, Malpolon mlynarskii, with which it forms the genus Malpolon. Malpolon has a good fossil record, dating back to the Pliocene in both southwestern Europe and northern Africa, but many of the fossils are isolated vertebrae, which are difficult to assign to species. [2]


There are three major subspecies of M. monspessulanus throughout its Mediterranean range. There is a deep genetic divergence between the western subspecies, M. m. monspessulanus, and the two eastern subspecies, M. m. insignitus and M. m. fuscus, leading to a proposal to recognize the eastern form as a distinct species, M. insignitus. These two groups are estimated to have split about 3.5 to 6 million years ago.[2] A fourth subspecies, M. m. saharatlaticus, was described in 2006.


M. m. monspessulanus

M. m. monspessulanus occurs in southwestern Europe (Spain, Portugal, southern France and northwestern Italy)[3] and the western Maghreb, where it is found in Morocco and coastal Algeria, east to Algiers. On the mid-body, there are usually 19 dorsal scale rows and a dark 'saddle' on the foreparts is present in males. M. m. monspessulanus possesses a single median process on its basioccipital bone that forms a strong spur, directed backwards; in the two eastern subspecies, two processes or indistinct hardened pieces of bones are present. There is little genetic or morphological differentiation between North African and European populations, suggesting a recent arrival in Europe.[2]

M. m. insignitus

M. m. insignitus ranges from eastern Morocco through Algeria and from Tunisia around the Mediterranean Sea to western Syria, including Cyprus. In Morocco and western Algeria, it occurs at higher elevations than M. m. monspessulanus. It usually has 19 dorsal scale rows on its mid-body, but males lack a dark 'saddle'. It often has narrow, pale longitudinal stripes. Sequence data from the cytochrome b gene show that it is paraphyletic with respect to M. m. fuscus, with Cypriot M. m. insignitus more closely related to Greek M. m. fuscus than to North African M. m. insignitus.[2]

M. m. fuscus

M. m. fuscus is found in southeastern Europe and Turkey through northern Iraq and western Iran.[2] It differs from M. m. insignitus in having only 17 dorsal scale rows on its mid-body.[2]

M. m. saharatlaticus

Another subspecies, M. m. saharatlaticus, lives in the region from Bou Izakarn in Morocco to Dakhla in the Western Sahara, inland to Aoulouz and Tafraoute.[3]

Delimitation issues

Forms of M. monspessulanus found in the more arid parts of Syria, Jordan, and Iraq are sometimes hard to classify because they have either 17 or 19 scale rows, resembling both M. m. fuscus and M. m. insignitus.[2]

Human interaction

The animal is not threatened by its interactions with humans and is assessed as "Least Concern", but it is often killed by cars and farmers, and is sometimes used by snake charmers and sold as curio.[1] Even in areas affected by humans, the population is stable and in some areas growing.[1] It is found in a number of protected areas.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Martínez-Solano, I., Corti, C., Pérez Mellado, V., Sá-Sousa, P., Pleguezuelos, J.M. and Cheylan, M. 2008. Malpolon monspessulanus. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. <>. Downloaded on 22 November 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Carranza, S.; Arnold, E.N.; Pleguezuelos, J.M. (2006). "Phylogeny, biogeography, and evolution of two Mediterranean snakes, Malpolon monspessulanus and Hemorrhois hippocrepis (Squamata, Colubridae), using mtDNA sequences". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40: 532-546.  
  3. ^ a b c "Malpolon monspessulanus HERMANN, 1804". J. Craig Venter Institute. Retrieved November 22, 2009.  
  4. ^ Pommier, Philip; de Haro, Luc (2007). "Envenomation by Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) with cranial nerve disturbances". Taxicon 50: 868-869.  


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Malpolon monspessulanus


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Reptilia
Subclassis: Diapsida
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Infraordo: Caenophidia
Superfamilia: Colubroidea
Familia: Colubridae
Subfamilia: Colubrinae
Genus: Malpolon
Species Malpolon monspessulanus
Subspecies: M. m. fuscus - M. m. insignitus - M. m. monspessulanus - M. m. saharatlanticus


Malpolon monspessulanus, Hermann 1804

Vernacular names

Català: Serp verda
Deutsch: Eidechsennatter
English: Montpellier snake
Español: culebra bastarda
Euskara: Montpellierko suge
Français: Couleuvre de Montpellier
Galego: cobregón
Italiano: Colubro lacertino
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Malpolon monspessulanus on Wikimedia Commons.


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