Malpolon monspessulanus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Malpolon monspessulanus
Species Authority: (Hermann, 1804)
Common Name(s):
English Montpellier Snake
Spanish culebra bastarda
Coelopeltis lacertina (Wagler, 1824)
Coelopeltis monspessulanus (Hermann, 1804)
Coluber monspessulanus Hermann, 1804
Natrix lacertina Wagler, 1824
Taxonomic Notes: Eastern populations of Malpolon formerly allocated to M. monspessulanus are now included within M. insignatus following Carranza et al. (2006).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2008-12-14
Assessor(s): Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Claudia Corti, Valentin Pérez Mellado, Paulo Sá-Sousa, Juan M. Pleguezuelos, Marc Cheylan
Reviewer(s): Cox, N. and Temple, H.J. (Global Reptile Assessment)
Listed as Least Concern in view of its relatively wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species ranges widely in Portugal, Spain (generally absent from the Cantabrian Mountains), southeastern France, and northwestern Italy (Liguria); in North Africa it distributes along northern Algeria, Morocco and coastal areas of Western Sahara. It ranges from sea level up to 2,160m asl.
Algeria; France; Italy; Morocco; Portugal; Spain; Western Sahara
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is generally a common species. In human altered landscapes, populations are frequently stable or even increasing, whilst the populations of other snakes are declining (Juan M. Pleguezuelos pers. comm., October 2008).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: A venomous snake, it is found in scrubland with low cover, open spaces, coastal dunes, grassland, meadows and cultivated land. In hot time of summer it has crepuscular-nocturnal activity. The annual activity period seems to be expanding in parallel with the raise of mean annual temperatures (Juan M. Pleguezuelos pers. comm., October 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are overall no major threats to this species. Many animals are killed on roads or are persecuted by farmers. The snake is used by snake charmers, and it is also sold dried as a curio but this is not a major threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Annex III of the Bern Convention. It occurs in a number of protected areas throughout its range, for example the following ones in Morocco: Saghro, Talassemtane, Jbel Moussa, Beni Snassen, Cap des trois fourches, Gourougou, Perdicaris, Cap Spartel, Tamga, Khnifiss, Chekhar, Trois fourches, Sebkha Bou Areg, Gourougou, Embouchure Moulouya, Beni Snassen, and Koudiat Tidighine.

Bibliography [top]

Andreu, A., Bea, A., Braña, F., Galán, P., López-Jurado, L.F., Pérez-Mellado, V., Pleguezuelos, J.M. and Salvador, A. 1998. Fauna Ibérica. Reptiles. 10: 1-705.

Anon. 2002. Malpolon monspessulanus Montpellier Snake (Hermann, 1804). Reptilia (GB): 39-42.

Arnold, E.N. 2003. Reptiles and amphibians of Europe. Princeton University Press., Princeton and Oxford.

Blázquez, M.C. 1993. Ecología de dos especies de colúbridos Malpolon monspessulanus y Elaphe scalaris en Doñana (Huelva). Tesis Doctoral. Universidad de Sevilla. Sevilla..

Bons, J. and Geniez, P. 1996. Amphibiens et Reptiles du Maroc (Sahara Occidental compris), Atlas biogéographique. Asoc. Herpetol. Espanola., Barcelona.

Brändel, M. and Rödel, M.-O. 1994. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der iberischen Herpetofauna (Amphibia, Reptilia). Herpetozoa: 19-27.

Carranza, S., Arnold, E. N. and Pleguezuelos, J. M. 2006. Phylogeny, biogeography, and evolution of two Mediterranean snakes, Malpolon monspessulanus and Hemorrhois hippocrepis (Squamata, Colubridae), using mtDNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 40 (2): 532-546..

de Haan, C. 1999. Malpolon monspessulanus. In: Böhme, W. (ed.), Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas., pp. 661-756.. Aula-Verlag, Wiesbaden.

Feriche, M., Pleguezuelos, J.M. and Santos X. 2008. Reproductive ecology of the Montpellier snake Malpolon monspessulanus (Colubridae) and comparison with other sympatric colubrids in the Iberian Peninsula. Copeia 2008(2): 279-285.

Gasc, J.-P., Cabela, A., Crnobrnja-Isailovic, J., Dolmen, D., Grossenbacher, K., Haffner, P., Lescure, J., Martens, H., Martínez-Rica, J.P., Maurin, H., Oliveira, M.E., Sofianidou, T.S., Veith, M. and Zuiderwijk, A. 1997. Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica and Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris.

Geniez, P., Mateo, J.-A. and Bons, J. 2000. A checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Western Sahara (Amphibia, Reptilia). Herpetozoa: 149-163.

IUCN. 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2009.1). Available at: (Accessed: 22 June 2009).

Malkmus, R. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Portugal, Madeira and the Azores-archipelago. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag K.G., Ruggell (Germany).

Moreno-Rueda, G. and Pleguezuelos, J.M. 2007. Long-term and short-term effects of temperature on snake abundance in the wild: a case study with Malpolon monspessulanus. Herpetological Journal 17: 204-207.

Moreno-Rueda, G., Pleguezuelos, J.M. and Alaminos, E. in press. Climate warming and activity period extension in reptiles: Evidence from the Mediterranean snake Malpolon monspessulanus. Climatic Change..

Pfau, J. 1988. Beitrag zur Verbreitung der Herpetofauna in der Niederalgarve (Portugal). Salamandra: 258-275.

Pleguezuelos, J.M. 2003. Culebra bastarda – Malpolon monspessulanus. Madrid.

Pleguezuelos, J.M., Márquez, R. and Lizana, M. 2002. Atlas y Libro Rojo de los Anfibios y Reptiles de España. Dirección General de la Conservación de la naturaleza-Associación Herpetológica Española., Madrid.

Santos, X., Brito, J. C., Pleguezuelos, J. M. and Llorente, G. A. 2007. Comparing Filippi and Luiselli's (2000) method with a cartographic approach to assess the conservation status of secretive species: the case of the Iberian snake-fauna. Amphibia-Reptilia, 28 (1): 17-23..

Schleich, H.H., Kästle, W. and Kabisch, K. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa. Koeltz, Koenigstein.

Segura C., Feriche M., Pleguezuelos J.M. and Santos X. 2007. Specialist and generalist species for habitat use: implications for conservation assessment in snakes. Journal of Natural History 41(2765-2774.).

Sindaco, R., Doria, G., Razzetti, E. and Bernini, F. 2006. Atlas of Italian Amphibians and Reptiles\\Atlante Degli Anfibi E Dei Rettili D'Italia. Societas Herpetologica Italica - Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze.

Citation: Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Claudia Corti, Valentin Pérez Mellado, Paulo Sá-Sousa, Juan M. Pleguezuelos, Marc Cheylan 2009. Malpolon monspessulanus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 01 September 2015.
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