Friday 18 September 2015

Vipera ammodytes & Algyroides

Horn-nosed Viper Vipera ammodytes
Damlatian Algyroides Algyroides nigropunctatus

Yesterday I photographed the above Horn-nosed Viper Vipera ammodytes on a stony wall on the Karst. More precisely within the area of the Carsiana botanical garden (near Trieste), which encompasses an area of typical Karstic "rocky field". With a bit of patience the viper allowed good views down to 3 metres, while it basked in the morning sunshine. I watched it for at least half an hour. A quite cooperative animal I must say. The pics were taken with the zoom on my camera at approximately 40x.
Horn-nosed Viper is considered the most venomous snake species in Europe, although its venom is rarely fatal to humans. Its distribution stretches mainly through the Balkans to the Middle East. In Slovenia it is most abundant right on the Karst (west of the country), although seeing one is not that easy, unless you go around turning stones. They usually stick around sunny, rocky places, dry stony grasslands, limestone cliffs ect. In several years of wandering these areas I only saw it a couple of times. If I were a herpetologist the things would be clearly different.  
The limestone rocks also held another typical reptile of the Karst: the Dalmatian Algyroides Algyroides nigropunctatus. Although in the photo it looks like an ordinary lizard, it is usually far brighter with a nice blue throat & head and reddish rest of the body. The individual in the pic was either a female or a juvenile (males are brighter). This species is distributed along the Adriatic coast (western Balkan peninsula). Not far from Trieste, near the town of Gorica/Gorizia, it reaches its north-westernmost point of distribution. Around Trieste it is an abundant species both on the coast and on the Karst and also easy to see (had 5 of them together yesterday).