British holidaymakers considering a trip to Spain have been urged to be on red alert as the country’s snakes swarm for the season.
Mallorca, one of the most popular destinations with Brits, will see snakes become more common between May and July as snakes search for the perfect nesting spot.
Last year, several snakes were spotted on the beach at Calvia and Andratx on the island that borders Ibiza.
“It’s their gestation period, so they’re looking for the perfect nesting spot,” says Vanessa Rubio, a biologist at the Consorci per a la Recuperació de la Fauna de les Illes Balears, or COFIB.
“In May, June and July, the snakes are more active, so people are more likely to see them, especially if it’s hot,” she says. “Temperatures haven’t risen much yet, but the snakes are waking up and if we have a cold May and June, we’ll see more in the summer.”
Horseshoe snakes, considered a relatively new addition to the island, should be common sights on the beautiful Balearic island.
Snakes are quite docile as snakes, but if they feel threatened they will attack.
However, when people are there, they most often flee.
“Snakes are not a danger to people,” insists Rubio. “Being bitten by a horseshoe snake is like being bitten by a cat and they are not poisonous or dangerous. They will fight back if cornered and try to bite, but they are not poisonous.”
There are five species of snakes in the Balearic Islands: the serp de garriga and the serp d’aigua.
The garrigue serp is a protected species and the other three are the ferradura or horseshoe serp, the verda serp and the white serp, reports the Mallorca Daily Bulletin.
There are, however, five types of venomous snakes and around 10 non-venomous snakes in Spain, always the top tourist destination for British travellers.
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In November last year, Ewan Wilson, from Cardiff, was driving through the countryside of Diseminado Cabo Gata, in Almeria, south-east Spain, when he was bitten by a scale snake.
Mr Wilson, who was wearing a front camera, filmed as he and his girlfriend crouched by the scale snake – fortunately one of Spain’s non-venomous species.
He started hissing then suddenly lunged at Mr Wilson, biting his hand as he went to pick him up.