Tag Archives: Snakes in Spain

Lataste’s Viper – Vipera latastei – Vibora hocicuda

  • English: Lataste’s Viper
  • Scientific: Vipera latastei
  • Spanish: Vibora hocicuda
  • French: Vipère de Lataste
  • German: Stülpnasenotter
  • Italian: Vipera di Lataste
  • Portuguese: cobra-cornuda
  • Distribution: Iberian Peninsula (except extreme north), North Africa

VENOMOUS (If bitten seek immediate medical attention)

Characterized by its dorsal markings the Lataste’s Viper – Vipera latastei – Vibora hocicudaa has a clear edged dark band in a zigzag pattern on a grey or brown background. Body short and thick of variable length but normally less than 60 cm. The head is well defined, triangular in shape and grey with a very distinct and unmistakeable upturned snout.

It is a diurnal species, but in the warmer months, is of crepuscular or nocturnal habits.

vipera latastei – vibora hocicuda 1
Lataste’s Viper – Vipera latastei – Vibora hocicuda sometimes a pale brown colour.

Prefers stony or rocky areas with plenty of scrub, woodland, steep slopes and stone walls with some vegetation. Slow moving, though tends to flee if approached.

The adult diet consists of rodents, lacertids, chicks of small birds and invertebrates.

Lataste's Viper - Vipera latastei - Vibora hocicuda
Lataste’s Viper – Vipera latastei – Vibora hocicuda unmistakeable upturned nose.

Mating takes place in April or May and the Lataste viper is an ovoviviparous species meaninh that the female keeps the eggs in her body (for approximately three months) until the young are born (sometimes more than 10)

If it feels threatened this snake will bite and although seldom fatal, adequate health care is normally required as soon as possible.

Conservation Status

The species V. latastei is classified as Near Threatened (VU) according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed as such because it is probably in significant decline due to widespread habitat loss and persecution throughout much of its range. Further population reduction is expected and localized extinctions in parts of its range are possible.

It is also listed as a strictly protected species (Appendix II) under the Berne Convention

Similar species

The subspecies Vipera latastei gaditana inhabits the extreme southwest of the Iberian Peninsula and the north of Africa. In the Iberian Peninsula its distribution ranges from the south of Portugal (the northern limits are not clearly defined) to the western banks of the Guadalquivir River in the province of Huelva, where it is found throughout the entire province up to the Sierra Morena in the north. It extends through the province of Seville along the wedge formed between Sierra Morena and the Guadalquivir River.

In this area, Vipera latastei are also present so telling the difference can be quite tricky.

Further reading on the fantastic and informative website of Iberian Vipers. It contains ample information about the three viper species(Lataste´s viper, Asp viper and Seoane´s viper),
and the three subspecies: Vipera latastei gaditana, Vipera aspis zinnikeri and Vipera seoanei cantabrica which inhabit the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).

Web: http://www.viborasdelapeninsulaiberica.com/description-vipera-latastei-gaditana-1.html

Vipera latastei abulensis – a subspecies of viper from the Central mountain range (Sierra de Gredos) in depth article with comparative data for the nominate race Vipera latastei latastei and the southern race Vipera latastei gaditana.

Web: http://www.viborasdelapeninsulaiberica.com/viper-articles2.html

The Grazalema Guide

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The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, the town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.