Snakes in Dalmatia: Crvenkrpica (Zamenis situla)

Snakes! I know this is not the most favorite subject for many but I just love all animals and snakes are among my favorites! Unfortunately, I rarely see them…

There are only two poisonous snake species in Croatia. The adder and nose-horned viper are poisonous, but if one acts quickly enough after being bitten, there is very small chance of any serious complications.

But most of the snakes in Croatia are not dangerous for humans and some are quite beautiful!

Zamenis situla catching the last sun rays...

Crvenkapica is Croatian name for Zamenis situla – one of Europes prettiest snake!
I saw this one hiking the steep road to Vransko Jezero panorama point last Fall. It was catching the last sun rays of the day and it did not move at all. I have never seen it before in real life so I just had to stop for a photo-shoot to take as many photos as possible.
Zamenis situla grows up to 116 cm, but usually less and females are larger than males. It is a fairly slender snake with a very characteristic range of patterns. Pattern on back can vary greatly and this looked beautiful! Body color is grayish, yellowish or buff. The head is boldly marked with dark stripes.

Showing signs of life!

It is quite common in all of the Mediterranean countries and usually found below 500 m. Usually in sunny habitats, especially those that including numerous rocks and some plant cover: field-edges, road banks, stone-piles, screes, dry-stone walls, also sometimes marshes and stream edges. It can be encountered in human habitats including gardens, vineyards, olive groves, cemeteries and around barns and houses which it sometimes enters.
Relatively slow moving but climbs well on stone-piles, walls and bushes where often seen draped over branches avoiding high ground temperatures. Frequently bites when handled, but may remain still when disturbed. This one was VERY still but I did not touch it just to avoid any sort of bites. It is known that it sometimes vibrates tail rapidly among leaves making a rattling noise.

Beautiful head

It’s feeding habits are also well known: larger prey may be constricted but small food items are pressed against the ground before being swallowed. Food of adults consists almost entirely of mammals and their nestlings (small rodents, occasionally shrews…), sometimes they eat birds and reptiles. Young feed on lizards.

I have never seen it before so I was quite excited but also note that this animal is protected by the international laws as well as local. As for that matter, all Croatian snakes are protected by law and it is not permitted to disturb or remove them from their habitats! Same goes for all the reptiles and the amphibians!

So, enjoy (or run away! :))) but do not disturb!

More on Croatian snakes can be found here!

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  1. pim says:

    hi there,

    being a dutchman staying as much and as long possible in Hrvatska, just discovered your weblog.

    a question to the snakes:
    I know the name of two, poskok and ridjoka, but how do you call this crvenakapica in daily name (if there is one) ?

    I used to skared as hell for snakes, bought myselve a specialist-book, and by knowing the do’s and dont’s now I am pleased to see one, still from a respectfull distance, but pleased as its part of Croatia’s fantastic nature.

    best regards, Pim

  2. Common names are: šareni guž, mišarica, crvena krpa, crvenokrpica, črljenokrpica, črljenkrpa.

    However, this seems to be quite rare and no specific names have been given in most areas.

    I have found your blog recently as well! Great stuff! Tempting to go and visit :)))

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