Publication on the Greek herpetofauna

In 2009 I was given the opportunity to produce a scientific account of the reptiles and amphibians of the small Greek island of Symi close to Rhodes. Since 2006 I have visited Symi on four occasions, and I have to say I very much fell in love with the tranquility and of course its reptiles. Having spent so much time in the field there, and observing some wonderful animals I became aware that there had rarely been any deep study of the island’s herpetofauna. Therefore along with co-author Dr Heinz Grillitsch, we produced over the course of several months an all inclusive study of reptile and amphibian observations on this island, even referring so far back as the 1800s. The Austrian Herpetological Society’s publication ‘Herpetozoa’ is renowned as being the single most important scientific contribution to the study of European reptiles and amphibians and I was very pleased to have my article published for the 2010 edition.  

Writing this research piece brought back many fantastic memories from Symi, such as staying rent free on Salamander Farm in the Pedi Valley owned by my South African friends Nicholas and Adriana Shum. It was also fantastic to encounter some rare species from the island that had previously not been recorded from there or had not been found for many years. Even observing common species was a pleasure, driving up to the remote regions of the islands and asking local farmers if I could inspect their water cisterns for Green toads or their tadpoles. Possibly the rarest observations from Symi were that of the Golden or Levant Skink (Trachylepis auratus) which is very rare on the island, together with the first observations of the Cat snake (Telescopus fallax).

The Golden or Levant Skink (Trachylepis auratus)

Thanks again to my friends and their boat I was even able to visit an off shore islet where I could search for herps, and some other areas on Symi I would have not been able to see without their help. In fact I have never stayed on such an untouched Greek island like Symi, on two occasions I even had to remove a snake from my accomodation in an olive grove which gives an idea about the limited development at the present time.

By Matt Wilson