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How to identify Portuguese snakes

Updated November 21, 2016

Many Portuguese snakes are dangerous. The country is full of slithering reptiles and keeping away from their natural environment is critical if you want to avoid unwanted encounters. Stay focused and aware when travelling outside on the streets and surrounding areas in Portugal. Keep in mind that snakes covet shady and dry areas during warm months, although morning hours -- and other cool times of the day -- can entice snakes to sunbathe on tops of rocks or other open areas.

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Identify the Montpellier Snake in dry areas near piles of stones or rocks. Notice the thin, distinct ridges above the eyes and its extensive body length, often measuring 90 cm to 1.8 m (3 to 6 feet). Note the blue and brown tints on the backside of its skin and its white underside.

Pick out a Ladder Snake by the identifying marks on the backside of its scales. It has no fangs. Notice a "ladder" pattern on young snakes that runs along the length of its body. Mature Ladder Snakes have just two black, distinct "ladder rails" along their backs because the "ladder crossbars," apparent in the young snakes, fade with age. Ladder snakes reach up to 90 cm (3 feet) in length.

Identify a Lataste's Viper by the upward, buckled tip of its nose and dark grey scales. Look for a radically angled dorsal stripe and an irritable demeanour. The Lataste's Vipers reach just a relatively short 60 cm (2 feet) in length.

Pick out a Horseshoe Whip by its length -- up to 1.35 m (4 1/2 feet) -- and the bulbous brown and black spots located all over the back of its body. It has no fangs and faint shades of peach, yellow or red on its underside. Be careful walking around the shady perimeters of buildings on summer evenings; these are common hangouts for Horseshoe Whips.

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About the Author

Jeffery Keilholtz began writing in 2002. He has worked professionally in the humanities and social sciences and is an expert in dramatic arts and professional politics. Keilholtz is published in publications such as Raw Story and Z-Magazine, and also pens political commentary under a pseudonym, Maryann Mann. He holds a dual Associate of Arts in psychology and sociology from Frederick Community College.

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