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Snakes of Bulgaria - An Insight

Snakes, love them or loath them are very much a part of Bulgaria, and if you spend time here then sooner or later you will spot one of these fascinating reptiles.

The very thought of this will surely send shivers down the spines of the some of the bravest amongst us. But what are the snakes like in this part of the world and are any of them dangerous, and if so what do they look like?
We take a look at Bulgaria's population of snakes and hopefully help to change the minds and attitudes of those who don't like or simply just do not understand these creatures.

How Many Types of Snakes are in Bulgaria?

It is not known exactly how many different species of snakes reside in Bulgaria because there are some vipers that have not been seen in the country for such a long time that it is now thought that they are probably extinct from Bulgaria. There are however at least 10 breeds which are still in abundance. These are the Worm Snake, Cat Snake, Smooth Snake, Horn Nosed Viper, Common Viper (Adder), Grass Snake, Dice Snake, Four Lined Snake, Caspian Whip Snake and the Aesculapian Snake.See video

Are They Venomous?

Bulgaria has only 2 venomous snakes, the Common Viper, or as it's known in the UK; the ‘Adder'. This snake carries venom and will bite if it is picked up and maybe if it's stood on by accident. The Adder's venom however is quite week and can be compared with that of a Bee sting so there is usually no cause for alarm if bitten by an adder, but any snake bite should be checked out by a medical professional to confirm this.
The Nose Horned Viper is closely related to the adder and can be similar in appearance. The venom of this beast is far more potent than that of the adder and an untreated bite from it will cause extreme pain and fever, in some cases death.
When venomous snakes bite they do not always release venom, this is known as a dry bite. There are also factors which can weaken the venom, the snake's age, if it has used its venom before the bite, usually during its last meal.

Which Ones are in My Garden?

The snakes you are most likely to see in your garden are dependent on which part of the country your home is. As a general rule the common visitors will be; the smooth snake, Caspian whip snake, European grass snake, the Aesculapian and the dice snake. All of these are harmless but apart from the grass and dice snakes they may bite if threatened. The grass and dice snakes love water, they love to swim and their diet consists mainly of fish, small frogs and tadpoles, and some may eat lizards and earthworms. If handled these snakes will not bite but they do have a unique defence. They will sometimes release a foul smelling liquid from glands in their abdomen. A second defence of these snakes is to play dead by turning themselves upside down and hanging their mouths open with the tongue out.
Although they are not a common sight in the garden, the two venomous snakes of Bulgaria may be seen passing through.

If you are bitten by any snake, whether you think it is venomous or harmless you must still seek medical advice. Try to give a description of the snake if you got a good look at it. Stay calm and under no circumstances should you go in search of the snake after the bite, whether it be to identify or to kill it, the chances of finding it will be very low and you risk being bitten again.

Don't Kill Them!

Snakes along with all other reptiles are protected by law in most countries and this is also the case in Bulgaria. It is a criminal offence to trap or kill these animals. Snakes in general are not interested in killing something which is too big for them to eat so if they are left alone then you will have no problems with snakes.