Montpellier snake or bastard snake - Origin, Food and Conservation

Montpellier snake or bastard snake: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The animal world is so diverse that it...

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The animal world is so diverse that it is quite common for certain species to frighten us because they could easily kill us if they decide to attack us And, without taking too many risks, we can easily say that one of the most worrying groups of animals are snakes, right?

Among the different types of snakes there are venomous and non-venomous species, therefore, it is rather normal that when we see a snake, we wonder if it is venomous or not.This is for example the case of the Montpellier snake, also called bastard snake (Malpolon monspessulanus), and in this file of PlanèteAnimal we have decided to tell you everything about it!

Continue reading and discover with us the characteristics of the Montpellier snake!


  • Africa
  • Europe
  • Algeria
  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy
  • Morocco
  • Portugal

Characteristics of the Montpellier Snake

The Montpellier snake, also known as the bastard snake, is quite large and can easily grow between 2 and 2.4 meters. This impressive size easily makes it the largest snake in the places where it lives. Females are normally smaller than males.As for the weight, it usually weighs around 1.5 kg.

Its head is somewhat elongated and its beak/snout rather pointed. In the line of each eye and nostril, a kind of depression forms. His appearance is intimidating. The scales on its head and above the eyes are large and prominent, while those on the rest of the body tend to be smaller and more pointed. Compared to the tail, it is elongated and quite thin.

The bastard snake, when adult, has a color that can vary between light gray, brown or olive green, but its belly is yellowish or slightly whitish. However, males change color in the anterior region as they grow, and it turns dark gray. Adult specimens are more colorful, while juveniles tend to be more mottled.

As far as teeth are concerned, the bastard snake is classified in the opisthoglyph type, which corresponds to snakes that have teeth connected to poisonous glands located at the back of the jaw.

Montpellier snake habitat

The bastard snake is widely distributed in several European countries, such as Portugal, Spain, southeastern France and northeastern Italy. In the case of Africa, it extends from northern Algeria, Morocco to some coastal areas of Western Sahara.

Normally, it lives from sea level up to about 2,160 meters above sea level. The habitat of the montpellier snake consists of thickets with low vegetation, open areas, dunes near the coast, crops and grasslands.

Behaviour of the Montpellier Snake

When temperatures are higher, i.e. during summer, this species has crepuscular and nocturnal habits. During other seasons, she tends to live while it is daylight. It is an animal that can move quickly and with agility. When she feels threatened, she can stand upright in order to impress the threat.

Is the Montpellier snake poisonous?

The bastard snake is indeed venomous, since it has glands that can inject poison. However, being an opisthoglyph type snake, it is not common for its venom to be injected into people or large mammals, since to inoculate it, its fangs, which are arranged at the back of the jaw, must be in contact with the victim, which is unlikely.

Despite the above, some cases of poisoning of humans have been reported, but during these events, the person happens to stick their finger deep into the animal's mouth.

Although the venom of the bastard snake is not well identified, it is known that it is not fatal for humans, although it can cause certain adverse effects whose intensity varies from one individual to another. In this sense, on the one hand, it can cause mild discomfort to severe headaches, recurrent vomiting, paralysis, inflammation and even edema and pain in the affected area.In the most severe cases, neurological problems and disorders of the nervous system occur. With proper treatment applied by medical personnel, symptoms usually resolve within a few days.

Montpellier snake bite, how to react?

This snake has big teeth and although it will do anything to flee, it won't hesitate to bite if it has no other choice. The bite of the bastard snake is usually quick, capable of piercing the skin and causing an injury.

The first aspect we must always consider with snakes is prevention. If we are in an area where we know these animals live, it is important to move carefully and be alert. In the event of an encounter with a bastard snake, it is in no way advisable to try to catch it; because only a specialized person can take care of it.

However, inevitable accidents do happen eventually, so if you've been bitten by this snake, you definitely need to go to the hospital.

Bastard Snake Food

What does the Montpellier snake eat? As you might expect, this snake has a carnivorous diet and some of the animals it feeds on include:

  • Lizards
  • Chicks
  • Other snakes
  • Insects (especially when young)
  • Rodents and other small mammals

Reproduction of the Montpellier snake

The reproduction of the bastard snake begins in the spring, between April and May. Egg laying occurs in early summer and she will lay them in piles of leaves. The eggs of this snake usually measure more than 4 cm and the most normal is that the female lays between 4 and 18. This range is wide because it will depend on the size of the female.

The birth of the offspring of bastard snakes takes place towards the end of summer, between August and September.

State of conservation of the Montpellier snake

The bastard snake is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the category of least concern. An advantage for the species is that it is not subject to major threats. However, they are often run over on some roads, chased and chased by some farmers when they venture into their fields, and they are also traded by snake charmers. At this point, it is important to note that snakes should live in their natural habitat in which they can live happily.

If you love these animals, the best thing to do is to continue to get to know them in order to respect them while helping them to live in freedom. There are many associations and rescue centers that help these reptiles when they suffer accidents to care for them and bring them back to their habitat, so you can volunteer and be in contact with them in a respectful way.

Photos of Montpellier snake or bastard snake

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