Some run some slither

Viper | APAM Archive, M. Giordano

There are eight species of reptiles in the Park area, the most common being the wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), which can be seen everywhere in summer, but especially among ruins and stony areas. Less common is the beautiful green lizard (Lacerta bilineata) bright green in colour, the throat of mating males is blue. Very rare is the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), reported in few places in Valle Gesso.

Another very interesting saurian is the slow worm (Anguis fragilis), which has evolved a snake-like body. Its legs are now so atrophied they are no longer visible. Mistaken for a snake, this gentle, peaceful "legless lizard " is often mercilessly killed out of ignorance. It lives in cool wooded environments and, just like lizards, it can lose a part of its tail (a phenomenon called autotomy) to escape a predator in case of danger.

Among the serpents, the most common species is without any doubt the western whip snake (Coluber viridiflavus), present up to 1800 m altitude, followed by the viper (Vipera aspis), which can also be found at high altitudes in sunny and environments with broken rocks. Less common, however, is the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), very similar in colour to the viper and often confused with it (with unfortunate consequences), although in reality it is completely harmless. There are occasional sightings of grass snakes (Natrix natrix). A species related to waterways and ponds, where it hunts amphibians and small fish.

For more detailed information on the herpetofauna of the Park see the thesis Distribution of herpetofauna in the Maritime Alps Natural Park by Dr. Simone Falzoi.