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Corfu, July 2023

Dalmation algyroides

(Algyroides nigropunctatus) (Duméril & Bibron, 1839)

The most abundant reptiles on the Ionian island of Corfu, living in all kinds of habitats. Most males have bright blue throats during the breeding seasons whereas some populations have reddish throats.

It has been nearly 10 years since I was last on the Emerald Greek island, see some previous trip reports here. In fact, I have visited Corfu over a dozen times and it ranks among my favourite destinations. Most of my previous visits here were during the spring or autumn, so I knew that a July trip would not be the most ideal with very dry weather and high temperatures not to mention the island being overrun with visitors. It would sometimes take a long time to reach various destinations owing to the amount of tourist traffic at this time of year. Despite the restrictions on the season, I had a great time here as always and I found the majority of the herpetofauna known from the island during my stay. It was Kat’s first time on Corfu so I was eager to show her some of my favourite hotspots. Many remained the same as they were when I first came here in 2001, although some others did not exist anymore or were now surrounded by hotels and villas.

We were fortunate to stay with our friends Dave and Alex at their amazing Venetian style villa in the north of the island, only minutes from some of my favourite locations. It was also great to catch up with Lee, Colin, Bo and Marie who I had also not seen for some time. Thanks for the hospitality, amazing food and lively banter!

The North

Most of my time was spent in the north of the island which I find generally has nicer habitats, also at this time of year the high elevations make things slightly cooler in the mornings than coastal areas. The omnipresent Dalmation algyroides (A.nigropunctatus) was commonly observed everywhere, although in summer the males do not have their bright blue throats. Balkan green lizards (L.trilineata) were also observed relatively commonly although only one specimen of the eastern green lizard (L.viridis) was observed. Numerous glass lizards (P.apodus) were seen disappearing down embankments before a photo could be taken. Typical result in summer compared to many close up observations of this species in spring. Most sightings of other reptiles came during the early morning, late evening and just after nightfall. Balkan whip snakes (H.gemonensis) and Dahl’s whip snake (P.najadum) were seen frequently during the first days of the trip when the weather was not so hot, the former was also seen crossing roads several times. However, as I try not to catch as many snakes these days my attempts at in situ photography of these species didn’t always pay off. A large male Montpellier snake (M.insignitus) was also not interested in hanging around for an in situ. The first morning of the trip had some cloudy weather and I was able to find a large female Nose-horned viper (V.ammodytes) out sunning itself. Another female was found active at night the following evening after a very hot day. On a separate morning I encountered two adult Four-lined snakes (E.quatuorlineata) basking in the morning sun, the larger one only showing parts of its body among the bramble. Another evening a large worm snake (X.vermicularis) was seen crossing a road after I had flipped one in Dave’s garden the previous evening. Another twilight wanderer was a juvenile sand boa (E.jaculus) which was moving along a stony path. This was only the second time I have seen this species on Corfu.

In situ Dahl’s whip snake (Platyceps najadum)
Nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes)
Four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata)

The South

We spent some days in the south of Corfu where temperatures were even hotter, so we generally did not do as many searches for reptiles as we did in the mountains. More tortoises, glass lizards and balkan green lizards were seen here and these were further supplemented with a few shy Ionian wall lizards (P.ionicus). On one overcast morning I saw a large male Montpellier snake and two Caspian whip snakes (D.caspius). The latter were a source of frustration, as one individual was the ‘banded’ variety which is unique to Corfu and a couple of other specific areas of Greece. I twice saw this big boy, but I wasn’t able to get a photo. The following mornings I saw more Montpellier snakes and I managed some photos of a youngish female followed by a large adult female. At the Korrision lagoon I was saddened by the encroachment of new hotels alongside the Natura 2000 area and that visitors are able to drive through the far end of the dunes to reach the beach. Idiots on quad bikes destroying the sand dune system was equally hard to watch. One evening we met up with Bo and Marie and did a nocturnal walk where I ended up spotting two rather dull-looking nose-horned vipers as well as the usual Greek marsh frogs (P.kurtmuelleri) and Epirus water frogs (P.epeiroticus). An afternoon stroll around Corfu town resulted in good numbers of Starred agamas (L.stellio).

Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni)
Female Montpellier snake (Malpolon insignitus)
Another female Montpellier snake (Malpolon insignitus)

I then returned to the north for a couple more days before flying to the UK. It was now very hot so I mostly stopped dedicated daytime searches. The highlight find was a cat snake (T.fallax) climbing a stone wall one evening. Another viper, some Balkan whip snakes and some grass snakes (N.natrix) and a dice snake (N.tessellata) rounded off the reptiles as well as some pond terrapins (E.orbicularis & M.rivulata).

Cat snake (Telescopus fallax) as found
Balkan terrapins (Mauremys rivulata)
  1. Lissotriton vulgaris
  2. Pelophylax kurtmuelleri
  3. Pelophylax epeiroticus
  4. Rana dalmatina
  5. Testudo hermanni
  6. Mauremys rivulata
  7. Emys orbicularis
  8. Algyroides nigropunctatus
  9. Podarcis ionicus
  10. Lacerta viridis
  11. Lacerta trilineata
  12. Laudakia stellio
  13. Hemidactylus turcicus
  14. Pseudopus apodus x7
  15. Xerotyphlops vermicularis x2
  16. Eryx jaculus x1
  17. Hierophis gemonensis x10
  18. Dolichophis caspius x2
  19. Platyceps najadum x2
  20. Elaphe quatuorlineata x3
  21. Natrix natrix x1
  22. Natrix tessellata x1
  23. Malpolon insignitus x6
  24. Telescopus fallax x1
  25. Vipera ammodytes x5
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