- English: Southern smooth snake.
- Scientific: Coronella girondica (Daudin 1803).
- Castilian: Culebra Lisa Meridional.
- Catalan: Serp llisa meridional.
- Portuguese: Cobra bordalesa.
- Family: Colubridae.
- Distribution: Iberia and much of Mediterranean basin area.
The Southern Smooth Snake is a slim, elegant snake with a rounded body and an average length of around 60cm, some reaching just under a metre. If warm enough then they are active between March and November. They are fairly slow moving and not good at climbing.
There is a dark strike from their neck to the rear corner of the eye. The eye itself has an orange / red ring around a circular black pupil. The body colour can vary between grey / brown to ochre with darker bands or blotches crossing the back in a non-uniform way. The underside is a creamy or orangey yellow with a haphazard checkered pattern of dark scales. This colouration is brightest in young ones.
They may be found in dry open scrub lands or rocky hillsides, hedgerows and open woods or around older cultivated trees. They will hide in old vegetation, under rocks and in stone walls. In warm southern areas they can be found in mountain regions but in cooler areas are more lightly to be below 1000m. This species of snake is mainly active in the evenings and at night, although they may be active during the day in wet weather, they are very secretive.
They generally eat small lizards, with skinks, geckos, smaller snakes and occasionally mammals also taken, young ones eat insects. Most of their prey is crushed by constriction and is swallowed head first.
Coupling takes place in spring with between 4 to 16 eggs being produced during the summer, these take 6 to 9 weeks to hatch, appearing in late August or September. The young tend to be active during the day and only measure 10 to 20cm.
The average life span for Coronella girondica is around 15 years. They reach sexual maturity when they are 4 years old.
- Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca) Lacks the strongly patterned and colourful underside.
- False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon cucullatus) Often has a bold dark collar.
- Young Ladder Snake (Elaphe scalaris) Has a more bold and regular ladder pattern on back.
The Grazalema Guide
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