Viperine Water Snake - Natrix maura
Despite it's name the Viperine Water Snake is not a venomous viper. It is a harmless water snake found in or near streams, rivers and lakes. It is common across much of Europe and can also be found in North Africa and Tunisia. The Viperine Water Snake is often mistaken for a viper due to the patterning along its back and its threatening displays of defensive behaviour. It is not uncommon for this snake to flatten its head, hiss loudly and strike at people who it sees as a possible threat if cornered. However these strikes are usually done with a closed mouth and are a complete bluff. It is rare for this snake to actually bite a human even when handled.
This is a fairly small snake usually growing no bigger than around 3ft in total length with 60cm being the average size. These snakes can be found in shallow or deeper water and can even be found in brackish water. This snake pictured above was found in a very shallow stream just 20 metres before in joined the sea.
These snakes behave in many ways just like Grass Snakes. The Viperine Water Snake will often emit a foul smelling liquid from its anal glands when handled to deter any would be predators. They sometimes use communial egg-laying sites which can also be shared with Grass Snakes.
As with the Grass Snake, the Viperine Water Snake will also often try to evade capture by heading straight for water and will usually swim straight to the bottom of the lake or river and hide under plants or rocks.
As with many snakes the female is larger and more stockily built than the male. The female pictured above was around 76cm in total length.
This image shows the typical habitat of the Viperine Water Snake. The water is clear, shallow and slow moving with plenty of vegetation along the banks. There is an abundance of small fish and frogs which the snake will prey on.
Spanish Terrapin - Mauremys leprosa
The Spanish Terrapin or Spanish Pond Turtle grows to a maximum length of 25cm and can often be seen basking on the banks of streams or areas of stagnant water. They are always very alert and will very quickly disappear to the bottom of the water if approached.
These terrapins are highly tolerant of pollution and can on occasion be found in the filthiest of waters.
When they first hatch these terrapins are just 3cm in length. Although in the wild the adults have very few natural predators, they do now have to compete with the Red-Eared Terrapins (Trachemys scripta) which are a larger introduced species from Mexico and the USA.
Spanish Painted Frog - Discoglossus jeanneae
The Spanish Painted Frog is found in and around rivers, lakes, marshes and meadows. It is a medium sized frog usually growing to around 2.5 inches in length.
A different morph for this Perez's Frog from those found last year demonstrating how the colouration and patterning of this frog can vary greatly.
Common Parsley Frog - Pelodytes punctatus