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Some run, some slither

Reptiles in the Park

There are 8 species of reptile in the Park, the commonest is the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), which can be seen everywhere in summer, particularly on old buildings and rocks. Less common is the beautiful western green lizard (Lacerta bilineata) bright green in colour, the males have a blue throat in the breeding season. Decidedly rare on the other hand, is the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), which has only been spotted in a few places in the Valle Gesso.

Another interesting lizard is the slow worm (Anguis fragilis), which has developed a snake-like body as its legs have regressed completely and are no longer visible. Often mistaken for a snake, this gentle "lizard without legs" is often cruelly killed out of ignorance. It lives in cool woodland environments and like lizards can lose part of its ">tail to escape predators in case of danger.

The commonest snake is undoubtedly the western whip snake (Hierophis viridiflavus), present up to 1800m, followed by the asp viper (Vipera aspis), which can be seen at considerable heights in sunny settings with plenty of holes. Less common is the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), very similar to the asp viper in colour and often confused with it (with unfortunate consequences for the unlucky reptile); it is in fact completely harmless. There are also occasional sightings of grass snakes (Natrix natrix), a species found around water courses and ponds, where it hunts amphibians and small fish.

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