Horseshoe whip snake

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Horseshoe whip snake
Albufeira, Horseshoe whip snake, 25 October 2016.JPG
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Hemorrhois
Species: H. hippocrepis
Binomial name
Hemorrhois hippocrepis
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Mapa Hemorrhois hippocrepis.png

The horseshoe whip snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis) is a species of snake in the family Colubridae . It is native to southwestern Europe and northern Africa.


Adults may attain a total length of 1.5 m (5 feet). Its body is slender, and its head is wider than its neck. The eye is large, with a round pupil, and with a row of small scales below it. The smooth dorsal scales are arranged in 25-29 rows, and the ventrals number 220-258. Dorsally it has a series of large spots which are either blackish or dark brown edged with black. There are a series of alternating smaller dark spots on the sides. The lighter ground color between the spots may be yellowish, olive, or reddish. The dark spots are closely spaced, giving the appearance of a dark snake with a light pattern resembling a chain or a series of X's. There is a light horseshoe-shaped mark on the neck and back of head.[3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It is found in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa, and in southern and central Portugal, southern, eastern and central Spain, Gibraltar, southern Sardinia and Pantelleria Island in Europe. In the island locations, it may have been introduced. Its natural habitats are Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, rocky areas, rocky shores, sandy shores, arable land, pastureland, plantations, rural gardens, and urban areas.[1]

Conservation status[edit]

The horseshoe whip snake is assessed as being of "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in its Red List of Threatened Species. Its population trend is thought to be steady, it is able to adapt to modified habitats. Threats it faces include being run over by traffic, poisoned by agricultural chemicals and being captured for use by local snake charmers.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Jose Antonio Mateo Miras; Marc Cheylan; M. Saïd Nouira, Ulrich Joger; Paulo Sá-Sousa; Valentin Pérez-Mellado; Iñigo Martínez-Solano; Roberto Sindaco; Antonio Romano (2009). "Hemorrhois hippocrepis". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2009: e.T61509A12495496. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T61509A12495496.en. Retrieved 14 January 2018. 
  2. ^ Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History), Volume I. London. pp. 409-410.
  3. ^ Arnold, E.N. & J.A. Burton. 1978. A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe. Collins. London. pp. 191-194.