European ratsnake

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European ratsnake
Elaphe situla.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Zamenis
Species: Z. situla
Binomial name
Zamenis situla
(Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Coluber situla Linnaeus, 1758
  • Coluber leopardinus
    Bonaparte, 1834
  • Callopeltis leopardinus
    — Bonaparte, 1839
  • Natrix leopardina Cope, 1862
  • Coronella quadrilineata
    Jan, 1863
  • Coluber leopardinus
    Boulenger, 1894
  • Elaphe situla
    — Engelmann et al., 1993
  • Zamenis situla
    — Venchi & Sindaco, 2006[1][2]

The European ratsnake or leopard snake (Zamenis situla), is a species of nonvenomous colubrid snake endemic to Europe, Asia Minor, and the Caucasus.

Geographic range[edit]

Z. situla is found in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, the Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Serbia and Montenegro, Turkey, Ukraine, and possibly Cyprus.[3]


The leopard snake is gray or tan with a dorsal series of reddish or brown transverse blotches, which have black borders. On each side is a series of smaller black spots, alternating with the dorsal blotches. There is a Y-shaped dark marking on the occiput and nape, a crescent-shaped black band from eye to eye across the prefrontals, and a black band from the postoculars diagonally to the corner of the mouth. The belly is white, checkered with black, or almost entirely back. The dorsal scales are in 25 or 27 rows, and are smooth. Adults may attain 90 cm (35 12 in) in total length, with a tail of 16 cm (6 14 in).[1]


Natural habitats of the European ratsnake are Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, pastureland, plantations, and rural gardens.[3]


  1. ^ a b Boulenger GA. 1894. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History), Volume II., Containing the Conclusion of the Colubridæ Aglyphæ. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xi + 382 pp. + Plates I-XX. (Coluber leopardinus, pp. 41-42).
  2. ^ The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ a b Böhme W, Lymberakis P, Ajtic R, Tok V, Ugurtas I, Sevinç M, Crochet P-A, Corti C, Haxhiu I. 2005. Zamenis situla. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed 29 July 2007.

Further reading[edit]

  • Arnold EN. Burton JA. 1978. A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe. London: Collins. 272 pp. + Plates 1-40. ISBN 0-00-219318-3. (Elaphe situla, pp. 197–198 + Plate 36 + Map 110 on p. 266).
  • Linnaeus C. 1758. Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, diferentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio Decima, Reformata. Stockholm: L. Salvius. 824 pp. (Coluber situla, p. 223). (in Latin).
  • Venchi A, Sindaco R. 2006. Annotated checklist of the reptiles of the Mediterranean countries, with keys to species identification. Part 2 — Snakes (Reptilia, Serpentes). Annali del Museo di Storia Naturale "G. Doria", Genova 98: 259-364.

See also[edit]