Western whip snake France





















































Western whip snake, Green/Yellow snake, Dark green snake.  (various English names)

Hierophis, (Coluber), viridiflavus  

Couleuvre verte et Jaune. (syn. Française Zamenis)

The Western whip snake, (Couleuvre verte et jaune), is present in the southern three quarters of France and is difficult to confuse with any other snake in this country. As its name implies it is predominantly  dark green with yellow dashes or bands which are transversal on the main part of its body and are longitudinal towards the tail, although as can be seen in the photos various forms exist depending on the stage of development with young snakes up to about 45cm being a grey / brown with a marbled head.  Growing to as much as 2 metres they can be large snakes when mature with prominent eyes and round pupils.

Photo. Juvenile or transitional Western whip snake with pale coloration

It occupies all types of habitat with a preference for dry, quiet areas – open woodlands and land which is left to scrub or fallow, sometimes to be found near rivers or other wet areas. It is an extraordinary hunter; its prey varies with local availability and it will take small mammals, small birds, frogs, lizards etc. It has also been known to eat adders and even its own species. 


They are above all else powerful snakes, though normally discreet they can be obstinate and aggressive, thrashing the ground with their tails and hissing when angered, sometimes tilting their heads back and then striking and biting with force, it is this force which gives it the ability to overcome its victims but is of no serious concern to humans. They are also agile climbers weaving their way with speed through bushes and hedgerows.

Photo.Western_whip_snake.France.Photo.(Lesley Hanmore).

Photo. Juvenile western whip snake. France.(Lesley Hanmore).


Hibernation takes place from October until April using spaces in the ground, low cavities in trees, stone walls etc. However they may be moderately active in winter if it's warm.

Coupling takes place in May and can result in violent fights between males for a female, this can also occur between the sexes. During copulation the partners roll and twist themselves around each other, keeping their heads raised upright, photos below . Between 5 and 20 eggs are deposited under stones, old tree stumps or in rotting vegetation in June/July, the young hatching 6 to 8 weeks later.

Photo.Western-whip-snakes-breeding.France.(Jenny McGowan)
Photo.Western-whip-snakes-breeding.France.(Jenny McGowan)

Photos above: Western whip snakes coupling, France (Jenny McGowan)

Photo of a pair of western whip snakes mating taken by a young girl called Molly in France. Perhaps a future naturalist?



Population: in decline.



Larger Couleuvre verte et jaune should be handled with caution! If you do not know how to handle snakes, gently use a long stick or something similar if you need to move one, left alone they will soon move away. Any strike will not be harmful.



More photos below.

Photo. Western whip snake. P. Williams


Photo. Western whip snake, hatchling. R.Meek


Photo. Western whip snake, juvenile. R.Meek


Photo. Western whip snake, preparation to strike. R.Meek


Photo. Western whip snakes breeding. France, Janet Desforges.


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