Reptiles and Amphibians that you might see whilst on a walking or wildlife holiday in Spain
Spain is home to a diverse range of reptiles and amphibians, including several species of lizards, snakes, turtles, toads and frogs. Some of the more commonly found species include the European pond turtle, the Spanish pond turtle, the Iberian ribbed newt, the Iberian midwife toad, and the ladder snake. Including the Balearic and Canary islands, there are around 90 species of reptiles and amphibians in Spain.
Snakes can be difficult to observe as generally they are very shy and disappear into the undergrowth at the first sounds of a human approaching.
Some reptile and amphibian species in Spain are classed as threatened and endangered due to pressures on habitat and human persecution.
Distribution of these reptiles and amphibians can be across the entire Iberian peninsular or restricted to a realatively small geographic location. For example, the Viperine snake (Natrix maura) spans the whole of Iberia, whilst other reptiles are restricted in their area such as the Spanish Algyroides (Algyroides marchi) which is only found in the Sierra Cazorla.
Finding and watching Reptiles and Amphibians in Spain
During the summer months, nocturnal lizards like geckos will delight people with their wall clinging abilities whilst hunting for moths attracted to lights. During the daytime look quietly at emerged rocks and logs along river sides to see sunbathing Mediterranean Pond Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa). They are sensitive to the slightest movement and will quickly dive for cover if they feel threatened.
A few books about reptiles and amphibians
Sadly, the Chameleon has lost a lot of its coastal habitat in the south of Spain due to the unlimited building boom. It is a fascinating reptile sadly unable to live inland away from the expanding concrete and suffers also from predation by domestic cats. This coastal housing growth also has a very destructive effect on breeding grounds of sea turtles and tortoise.
Below is a list of Reptiles and amphibians of Spain. (English name, Scientific name, Spanish name.) If the link is live (green text) then click to read more about the animal.
- Horseshoe whip snake – Coluber hippocrepis – Culebra de herradura.
- Southern smooth snake – Coronella girondica – Culebra lisa meridional.
- False smooth snake – Macroprotodon brevis– Culebra de cogulla.
- Montpellier snake – Malpolon monspessulanus – Culebra bastarda.
- Viperine snake – Natrix maura – Culebra viperina.
- Grass snake – (Three species) Grass snake, Barred Grass snake, Mediterranean Grass Necklace Snake. Spanish: Culebra de Collar, Culebra de Collar Europea, Culebra de collar mediterránea. Scientific name: Natrix natrix, Natrix helvetica helvetica and Natrix astreptophora
- Ladder snake – Rhinechis scalaris – Culebra de escalera.
- Aesculapian Snake (Elaphe longissima or Zamenis longissimus) Culebra de esculapio.
- Green whip snake or Western whip snake – Hierophis viridiflavus – Culebra verdiamarilla.
- Western false smooth snake or Iberian false smooth snake – Macroprotodon brevis ibericus– Culebra de cogulla occidental. (Including the false smooth snake Macroprotodon cucullatus Mauritanicus)
- Smooth snake – Coronella austriaca austriaca – Culebra Lisa Europea
- Lataste’s viper – Vipera latastei and the southern gaditana ssp– Vibora hocicuda.
- Seoane’s viper – Vipera seoanei (Cantabrica) – Vibora Cantabrica meridional.
- Asp viper – Vipera aspis zinnikeri – Vibora aspid Pyrenaica
- Turkish gecko – Hemidactylus turcicus – Salamanquesa rosada.
- Moorish gecko – Tarentola mauritanica – Salamanquesa común.
- Iberian wall lizard – Podarcis hispanica – Lagartija Ibérica (This link directs to the Andalucian wall lizard information page.)
- Andalucian wall lizard – Podarcis vaucheri – Lagartija andaluza
- Large psammodromus – Psammodromus algirus – Lagartija colilarga.
- Spanish psammodromus – Psammodromus hispanicus – Lagartija cenicienta.
- Ocellated lizard (Timon lepidus ibericus(
Lacerta lepida)) Lagarto ocelado.
- Lilfords lizard – Podarcis lilfordi – Lagartija balear
- Mediterranean Chameleon – Chamaeleo chameleon – Camaleón comun
- Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis) Lución
- The Tenerife speckled lizard – Gallotia intermedia – lagarto canario moteado
- Bedriagas skink – Chalcides bedriagai – Eslizón Ibérico.
- Western three-toed skink – Chalcides striatus – Eslizón tridáctilo.
Salamanders and Newts
- Fire salamander – Salamandra salamandra – Salamandra común.
- Golden-striped Salamander – Chioglossa lusitanica – Salamandra rabilarga
- Pygmy (marbled) newt – Triturus pygmaeus – Tritón pigmeo
- Alpine Newt – Triturus alpestris – Tritón alpino.
- Bosca’s Newt – Triturus boscai – Tritón ibérico.
- Palmate Newt – Triturus helveticus – Tritón palmeado.
- Marbled Newt – Triturus marmoratus – Tritón jaspeado.
- Southern Marbled Newt – Triturus pygmaeus – Tritón pigmeo.
- Spanish Ribbed Newt – Pleurodeles waltl – Gallipato.
- Pyrenean Brook Newt – Euproctus asper – Tritón pirenaico.
- East Iberian Painted Frog – Discoglossus jaenneae – Sapillo Pintojo Meridional
- Western Iberian Painted Frog – Discoglossus pictus – Sapillo mediterráneo.
- Iberian Frog – Rana iberica – Rana patilarga.
- Iberian parsley frog – Pelodytes ibericus– Sapillo moteado iberico.
- Iberian water frog – Pelophylax perezi – Rana común.
- Iberian Tree Frog – Hyla molleri – Ranita de San Antonio (see the stripeless tree frog information page)
- Stripeless treefrog – Hyla meridionalis – Ranita meridional
- Parsley Frog – Pelodytes punctatus – Sapillo moteado común.
- Agile Frog – Rana dalmatina – Rana ágil.
- Pyrenean Stream Frog – Rana pyrenaica – Rana pirenaica.
- Marsh Frog – Rana temporaria – Rana bermeja.
(Midwife toads are actually frogs!)
- Iberian midwife Toad – Alytes cisternasii – Sapo partero ibérico.
- Betic Midwife Toad – Alytes dickhilleni – Sapo partero bético.
- Mallorcan midwife toad – Alytes muletensis – Sapillo balear.
- Midwide Toad – Alytes obstetricans – Sapo partero común.
- Iberian spiny toad – Bufo spinosus – Sapo comun Ibérico
- Natterjack toad – Epidalia (Bufo) calamita – Sapo corredor
- Berber Toad – Bufo mauritanicus – Sapo moruno. (Introduced, probably extinct in Spain)
- Green Toad – Bufo viridis – Sapo verde.
- Western Spadefoot – Pelobates cultripes – Sapo de espuelas
- European pond terrapin – Emys orbicularis – Galápago europeo.
- Mediterranean pond terrapin – Mauremys leprosa – Galápago leproso.
Currently, there are 7 species of marine turtles in the world:
- Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)
- Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
- Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
- Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
(These first 4 species are usually present in our Peninsular coasts and archipelagos.)
- Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
- Flatback turtle (Natator depressus)
- Olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
Tortoise in Spain
Spain is home to two species of tortoises: the Spur-thighed tortoise, Testudo graeca, (La Tortuga Mora) and Hermann’s tortoise, Testudo hermanni (La tortuga mediterránea). The Spur-thighed tortoise has three separate populations in southwestern Spain (Parque Nacional de Doñana), southeastern Spain (provinces of Murcia and Almeria), and northwestern Mallorca. Hermann’s tortoise inhabits the northeastern corner of the country (Catalonia), the southern part of Mallorca, and most of Minorca. Read the full article about tortoises in Spain here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/tortoises-in-spain/
Invasive species of reptiles and amphibians in the Iberian Peninsula
- Red eared and yellow eared terrapin / Slider.
- American Bullfrog – Rana catesbeiana – Rana toro (Captive pets escaped).
The Caminito del Rey
Find tickets for the Caminito del Rey: https://www.caminodelrey.es/
Wildside Holidays – Spain
Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.
Iberia Nature Forum
Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum!
Discover the Iberia Nature Forum – Environment, geography, nature, landscape, climate, culture, history, rural tourism and travel.