Horsehoe whipsnake

The horseshoe whipsnake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis or Coluber hippocreppis.) is a classic Mediterrenean species. It takes its name from the horseshoe patten along its body. In Spanish it is similarly called a culebra de herradura. In Spain, the horseshoe whipsnake is found throughout the south and all along the Mediterranean coast up to Barcelona. Scattered populations also present in the west. The horseshoe whipsnake favours sunny bare stony ground. It makes up 9% of booted eagle’s diet. More here at the excellent Vetebradosibericos.

A Horseshoe whipsnake in Granada

These photos were taken in Coto Molino del Rey, en Íllora, Granada by Juan R. Fernández Cardenete from the Plan Andaluz de Aves Acuáticas.

photo of a horseshoe whipsnake

I was confused by the two different Latin names quoted around for the whipsnake: Hemorrhois hippocrepis or Coluber hippocreppis.

Cyberlizard told me: All the colubrid snake genera are in a state of flux thanks to molecular analysis and some authorities are now saying that it should be Hemorrhois hippocreppis, which is a bit annoying as (a) it breaks up a longstanding tradition and (b) it doesn’t roll off the tongue nearly as nicely! So I am going to put some soundings out to see if the new name is really justified, in most people’s opinions, or whether it’s just a case of someone trying to get their doctorate by a bit of fancy lab analysis.

18/07/2006 Yet another horseshoe whipsnake. This was sent to me for identification by Marcia who lives 45 mins inland from Malaga. She was sitting under on the patio when it dropped out of the grapevines above. “The snake was feasting on a small gecko and it would seem the snake plummeted to the patio from the vines because it was trying to eat its mid morning snack. On consuming its prey it swiftly returned to the olive orchard through a small hole in the wall”.

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