Antikythera: geckos, cat snakes and an impossible to reach islet!
In August my Greek friend Ilias Strachinis from Thessaloniki (www.herpetofauna.gr, also see my trip report from Northern Greece), visited a tiny island of the north-west coast of Crete called Antikythera. Ilias had gone to a considerable amount of trouble to reach this fairly inaccessible island but finally arrived there by boat at Antikythera’s only town called Potamos, and where the majority of the 45 island inhabitants live.
His reason for being there was to somehow find a way to reach a further, tiny, off shore islet called Pori, where a recently described, large, lacertid lizard is present, known only as Podarcis levendis. Despite several attempts, the local fishermen were not able to take Ilias to Pori so instead some fantastic findings were made on Antikythera itself.
From previous literature only four species of reptile, and no amphibians are known from this island, including Kotschyi’s gecko (Mediodactylus kotschyi), Turkish gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus), Snake-eyed skink (Ablepharus kitaibelli) and an endemic subspecies of Cat snake (Telescopus fallax intermedius). By walking around the village and surrounding hillsides at night with a torch Ilias was able to find the two geckos and a number of Cat snakes hunting them on old stone walls. This is the first time I have seen photographs of this subspecies of the cat snake so I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I did: