Credit: Berkay353, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Wild 12-15 years
Captive 12-15 years
The cat snake or the European cat snake is as their name suggests found in Europe where they are still considered common.
These animals are carnivores. They seek out lizards, blind snakes and rodents on which to feed. Cat snakes are equipped with a mild venom which can be used to subdue prey but has little effect on humans.
They are named for the cat like eye which is a result of the vertical pupil. This helps to regulate the amount of light entering the eye so they can see at night when they are active.
This species is under threat from habitat loss and vehicle strikes. They are also prosecuted due to a view that they are harmful to humans.
Learn more about these radical reptiles by reading on below.
What does the cat snake look like?
Their is variation in their appearance across their range. They have gray, tan or brownish shades as a background. This is patterned with darker crossbands or blotches running down the body.
Cats snakes have a pupil which is vertical. This can be opened more widely than a round pupil allowing more light in at night when they are active. These eyes give rise to their common name.
An average cat snake will measure 1m (3.25ft) long.
What does the cat snake eat?
These animals are carnivores. Their diet includes reptiles such as lizards and slow worms along with small mammals such as rodents. Prey is swallowed whole.
Cat snakes are considered venomous and possess a mild venom. Their fangs are located at the rear of their mouth.
While their venom is not considered medically significant to humans you should always be careful when around snakes and seek medical treatment if bitten.
Credit: Benny Trapp, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Where can you find the cat snake?
Europe is the native home of the cat snake. Here they can be found naturally occurring in the following countries – Albania; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Georgia; Greece; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Lebanon; Malta; Montenegro; North Macedonia; Russia; Slovenia; Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey.
What kind of environment does the cat snake live in?
These animals make their home in forests, shrubland and rocky areas including cliffs and mountains.
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How does the cat snake produce its young?
Females will lay a clutch of between 5 and 9 eggs each year. Hatching occurs towards the end of summer and in to autumn.
Young are independent from birth and receive no care from their parents.
Sexual maturity is achieved by 3 years of age.
What does the cat snake do with its day?
These snakes are active around twilight when they will hunt.
Cat snakes have the ability to climb and will be seen in trees.
Credit: Maurice Flesier, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Predators and Threats
What is impacting the survival of the cat snake?
A population trend for the cat snake has not been defined but they are considered rare in some regions such as Turkey and Malta while being common in Mediterranean parts of the Balkans.
In areas they are confused with viper species and may be killed as a result.
They are also impacted by habitat loss such as conversion to agriculture or urban areas. This species is also the victim of vehicle strikes.
They may also be known as the European cat snake, kitty snake or the soosan snake.
On some islands in Greece these reptiles are considered to be sacred.
This species was first described for western science in 1831.
Six subspecies of the cat snake are recognized.
Credit: Konstantinos Kalaentzis, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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