Thursday, 21 November 2013

A horseshoe whip snake in the class!!

 We've had another visitor in our class this year. One of my students found and brought a horse shoe whip snake to the class. This snake is very common in the area. It's scientific name is Hemorrhois hippocrepis. We looked after it for about 2 months and after this time we decided to set it free. It was interesting to see the snakes external anatomy, its scales, the pattern on its skin, its wide head, its big black eyes. We were also able to observe its behaviour. It's a fast moving snake, able to raise its body easily.

Watch this video of our snake!

Here is some more detailed information about the horse shoe whip snake taken from Wikipedia.

The horseshoe whip snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis) is a species of snake in the Colubridae family.

Geographic range

It is found in AlgeriaItalyMoroccoPortugalSpainGibraltar and Tunisia.


Adults may attain a total length of 1.5 m (5 feet). Its body is slender, and its head is wider than its neck. The eye is large, with a round pupil, and with a row of small scales below it. The smooth dorsal scales are arranged in 25-29 rows, and the ventrals number 220-258. Dorsally it has a series of large spots which are either blackish or dark brown edged with black. There are series of alternating smaller dark spots on the sides. The lighter ground color between the spots may be yellowish, olive, or reddish. The dark spots are closely spaced, giving the appearance of a dark snake with a light pattern resembling a chain or a series of X's. There is a light horseshoe-shaped mark on the neck and back of head.[2]


Its natural habitats are Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, rocky areas, rocky shores, sandy shores, arable land, pastureland, plantations, rural gardens, and urban areas.

Conservation status

It is threatened by habitat loss.


  1. Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History), Volume I. London. pp. 409-410.
  2. Arnold, E.N. & J.A. Burton. 1978. A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe. Collins. London. pp. 191-194.
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