Platyceps najadum Eichwald, 1831
Common names: Dahl's Whip Snake [En], Couleuve de Dahl, Couleuvre à cou tacheté [Fr], Schlanknatter [De], Σαΐτα [Gr], İnce Yılan, Ok Yılanı [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Datça peninsula, MUĞLA ● Turkey
Description: A slender snake with a total length up to 140 cm. Eyes large, with round pupils. 2 preoculars, rarely 1 or 3; 2 postoculars; usually 8, sometimes 9 or 7 supralabials. Usually 19, rarely 17 rows of smooth dorsal scales at mid-body. Ventrals and subcaudals between 200-236 and 100-140, respectively. The dorsum is grey or bluish-brown anteriorly, yellowish or reddish-brown posteriorly. Sides of neck with a row of roundish black markings, the rims of which are lighter coloured; these get smaller posteriorly and disappear before reaching the body. The front and back edges of the eyes are surrounded with a thin yellowish band. The venter is immaculate, yellowish-white.
Five distinct subspecies are generally recognized:
• P. n. dahlii Schinz, 1832 – Balkans, Cyprus, western Turkey, Syria and Iraq
• P. n. kalymnensis Schneider, 1979 – island of Kalimnos in the Aegean Sea
• P. n. najadum Eichwald, 1831 – the Caucasus and Asia Minor
• P. n. albitemporalis Darevsky and Orlov, 1994 – south-eastern Azerbaijan
• P. n. atayevi Tuniev and Shammakov, 1993 – southern Turkmenistan (western and central Kopet Dagh) and northern Iran.
Biology: Diurnal, rather shy and a fast quick moving snake that hunts its prey, often pursuing them for long distances. Climbs well among bushes, rocks and dry stone walls. It feeds on small lizards, insects and occasionally on small rodents. It moves very quickly, keeps anterior part of its body above ground while speeding along, hence nicknamed as “arrow snake”. It mates in the spring and females lay 3-16 eggs in a clutch in summer.
Habitat: In general, this species is associated with dry or xerophytic landscapes. It is found on the open parts of stony semi-desert and wermuth steppe, among rocky outcrops and stones. Populations are found at the slopes of foothills and mountain covered with bush vegetation and woods, in thickets of xerophilous bushes, in juniper open woodlands, oak groves, border of forests. It has been recorded from open woodland, garrigue, overgrown areas, gullies, vineyards, gardens, stone walls and old buildings.
Distribution: This species ranges from coastal Croatia southwards into Bosnia-Herzegovina, southern Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, central and southern Bulgaria, Albania, Greece (including the islands of Limnos, Lesbos, Chios, Kalymnos and possibly Samos), Cyprus and Turkey (Thrace and western, southern and eastern Anatolia) southeast to northern and western Syria, Lebanon (above 1,000 m asl), northern and eastern Iraq, western Iran and southern Turkmenistan. It has also been recorded from the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, although the identity of these animals requires further investigation. It faces a serious threat of extinction in Cyprus.
This species ranges from sea level up to 2,200 m asl.
Atatür M. K & Göçmen B., 2001. Amphibians and Reptiles of Northern Cyprus (1st Edition), Ege Üniversitesi, Fen Fakültesi Kitaplar Serisi, No. 170, Ege Üniversitesi Basimevi, Bornova-Izmir, 63 pp.
Lymberakis P., Ajtic R., Tok V., Ugurtas I.H., Sevinç M., Crochet P.-A., Mousa Disi A.M., Hraoui-Bloquet S., Sadek R., Haxhiu I., Böhme W., Agasyan A., Tuniyev B., Ananjeva N., Orlov N., 2009. Platyceps najadum. In: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2.
Herpetofauna of Greece
AdaMerOs Herptil Türkiye