Snakes on the plains

A Montpellier snake, photographed in the Hérault

Eric Bryan’s guide to the varied serpents living in hiking country in the south of France – and what you should do if you get bitten by one...

Reading Marcel Pagnol and Jean Giono might inspire you to wander the Provencal countryside and enjoy its epic beauty – but watch out for what might be underfoot.

Potential dangers, running from slight to severe, are posed by the few species of poisonous snakes which inhabit the south of France.

It is wise to keep these creatures in mind while hiking in the countryside, especially from spring to autumn when they are active.

The Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) is mildly venomous and can grow up to 2.55m long. It is the largest snake in Europe.

It is rear-fanged: the fangs which insert venom are at the back of its mouth.

On the hunt in daylight hours, the Montpellier snake feeds ...

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