Malpolon monspessulanus insignitus

(Montepellier snake)

Malpolon monspessulanus insignitus female from Choman, Iraq
Malpolon monspessulanus has a western and an eastern distribution. The nominate form is found from North Italy and Southern France, the Iberian peninsula and Noethwest Afrika, and the subspecies insignitus from Yoguslavia, the southern part of Balkan to Southwest Asia. This snake is rear-fanged or back-fanged with 2 enlarged teeth in the back of its mouth, from where poison can be injected to the bite. A normal bite from this snake isn`t harmful because of the position of these teeth, but the poison is potent and will cause swelleings, pain and even fever for a couple of hours. The Montepellier snake is up to 2 meter long, and animals above 150 cm are common. The nominate form has a blackish front body and insignitus is nearly uniformly colored. They are normally brown or green but even red, black or turkishblue colored are found. Juveniles are lightcolred with darker saddles or spots on the back. They hav a large head and large eyebrows making them look angry. This snake is protescted in Europe under the Bern-Konvention.
The Montepellier snake is found in many different habitas. It prefers dry places with some vegetation and south turning slopes, ruins og rocky terrains are among their favorites. They are day active and place themselves at high places overlooking the surroundings. The have a fantastic vision and are normally long gone before they are spotted. If they are taken by surprice they will start hissing loudly and spread out looking far bigger. They rarely attack and flee at the first oportunity. They prey on reptiles, birds and mammels and even small turtles has been found in their stomach. Juveniles prey on smaller lizards.
This snake is poisonous. Even no fatal incidents has been reported, it is still not a snake for the beginner. The are big and powerful and the terrarium should be extra strong. They are very active and need a large terrarium 200 x 100 x 100 cm is sufficient for an adult pair. They should be kept at 27 - 30 *C during the day with some heating spots and about 20 *C at night. A longer hibernation is mandatory for breeding. They are feed on rodents, dayold chickens, lizards or other snakes. All other species of snakes are considered food times but we have newer had kanibalism between them. The juveniles prey on lizards and almost newer accept rodents as food.
Habitate Choman, Iraq
I got my first Malpolon bye coincidence. During an evening snake hunt many years ago, I caught a Coluber jugularis with a little tail sticking out of the mouth. While I was looking at the snake it suddently threw up a 60 cm lifeless Malpolon. I had at that time newer seen such a snake before and placed it in my pocket and released the Coluber again. Back at my room I placed it on my table and took some photos before I went to bed. The next morning it was gone and I searched the room. Suddently I heard a loud hissing from my paperbasket, and there was a very angry Malpolon, that I just couldn`t anything but adore. Such an ego in such a little snake was too much to let go, so I made a small terrarium for it, where it lived untill I went home to Denmark. Normally I newer give my animals names, but this little snake was newer called anything but " Ulllrik"
Malpolon monspessulanus insignitus (Ulrik)
This little snake lived for many years and had a place of honor in my window. It was a terrarium with glas sides in the front and in the back. In the middle there was a rockformation, where the snake always were placed during the day owerlooking and curiously observing everything that moved, with its head held up high like a little periscope. I have had many other Malpolon since then, but none has been so special as my little throw up.