Friday, August 24, 2007

Croatia Online - Snakes in Croatia


No, this is not an attack on the political system, just a quick posting to let readers know about an interesting website covering the lesser known facts about Croatia's snake population. We've some friends on Čiovo Island, with a lovely garden, who occasionally find their dogs barking at the odd reptile and this site will help them, and those like them, identify the extent of the threat, if any.

The link is http://www.zh.zadweb.biz.hr/ and you'll find a complete index and details on every species and sub species that can be found in Croatia. The snake in the picture (copyright Mladen Zadravec) is one of the most venemous in Europe - the Nose - horned viper. It pays to stay well clear of this one but most of the snakes that you'll come across are harmless. The site writer, Mladen Zadravec is obviously a snake lover and makes the very important point that all Croatian snakes are protected by law and it is not permitted to disturb or remove them from their habitat. Remember that they're normally more afraid of you than the other way round and will move away if they can. Many of Croatia's snakes are endangered and there is a page on the site explaining why and what might be done.

Visitors shouldn't worry too much - Croatia is more rural than England, so if you're a townie the chances of spotting one here are higher than at home, especially away from the coast. However you're unlikely to come across one, and if you do, as Mladen says, "just leave it to go about it's business in peace". In the unlikely event that someone gets bitten by one of the few vemomous snakes around, try and identify the snake (or take a photo) and go straight to the hospital. Mladen tells us that the Nose - horned Viper seldom bites, and if it does, it's rarely fatal. Given that it's also a rare snake, the chances of an encounter are extremely remote.

We've had some correspondence with Mladen since we first put up this posting and he makes some very important points:

a) human beings are more of a threat to the snake population than the other way round. Snakes will defend themselves but will not attack unless provoked.

b) there's no such thing as a poisonous snake, only a venomous one

c) although we suggest that the Nose - horned Viper is rare, Mladen tells us there are places where you may see whole groups of them

d) Mladen is not too happy abour our use of the word "threat" and "stay well clear" as he believes this sort of language gives snakes an unfair and bad press. We take his point but, whilst some of us overcome what may be an unsubstantiated fear, perhaps the best action is to become more educated on the subject and avoid upsetting a snake by taking the line of least resistance

This is a great specialist website and we wish Mladen all the best in his efforts to assist people to become more educated about Croatia's snake population and what needs to be done to protect it and let it live in harmony with its human neighbours.

4 Comments:

Blogger K said...

classic!
"do not disturb the snakes" perhaps - lol!!

5:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go jogging a lot around Ciovo and recently found a part of a main road somewhere on top of the island which gets the longest amount of sun during the day. Here I see snakes daily enjoying the heat radiating from the concrete. Sadly most are roadkill, but those that are just sunbathing kindly crawl aside as I jog passed.

You really have to go out of your way to find snakes here. Even though the over-abundance of cats keeps the snakes away from most areas, i fear they endanger the snake population of this amazing island.

6:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go jogging a lot around Ciovo and recently found a part of a main road somewhere on top of the island which gets the longest amount of sun during the day. Here I see snakes daily enjoying the heat radiating from the concrete. Sadly most are roadkill, but those that are just sunbathing kindly crawl aside as I jog passed.

You really have to go out of your way to find snakes here. Even though the over-abundance of cats keeps the snakes away from most areas, i fear they endanger the snake population of this amazing island.

6:12 pm  
Blogger Jane Cody said...

Thanks for the comment and yes there do seem to be plenty of cats around at certain times of the year but I'm not sure their survival rate is particularly high either. Plenty of poison put out and I'm not sure there is a lot to eat for them once the tourists have gone.

3:49 pm  

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