Larger Couleuvre verte et jaune should be handled with caution! If you do not know how to handle snakes, gently use a long stick or something similar if you need to move one, left alone they will soon move away. Any strike will not be harmful.
Photos above: Left, young Western whip snake. Right, adult Whip snake head.
It occupies all types of habitat with a preference for dry, quiet areas – open woodlands and land which is left to scrub or fallow, sometimes to be found near rivers or other wet areas. It is an extraordinary hunter; its prey varies with local availability and it will take small mammals, small birds, frogs, lizards etc. It has also been known to eat adders and even its own species.
Hibernation takes place from October until April using spaces in the ground, low cavities in trees, stone walls etc.
Coupling takes place in May and can result in violent fights between males for a female, this can also occur between the sexes. During copulation the partners roll and twist themselves around each other, keeping their heads raised upright, photos below . Between 5 and 20 eggs are deposited under stones, old tree stumps or in rotting vegetation in June/July, the young hatching 6 to 8 weeks later.
The Couleuvre verte et jaune is present in the southern three quarters of France and is difficult to confuse with any other snake in this country. As its name implies it is predominantly dark green with yellow dashes or bands which are transversal on the main part of its body and are longitudinal towards the tail, although as can be seen in the photos various forms exist depending on the stage of development. Being up to 2 metres it can be a large snake, prominent eyes with round pupils.
Population: in decline. NOT VENOMOUS
The couleuvre verte et jaune is above all else a powerful snake, though normally discreet it can be obstinate and aggressive, thrashing the ground with its tail and hissing when angered, sometimes tilting its head back and then striking and biting with force, it is this force which gives it the ability to overcome its victims but is of no serious concern to humans. It is also an agile climber weaving its way with speed through bushes and hedgerows.
Various English names for this snake:
Western whip snake - Green/Yellow snake – Dark green snake
Hierophis, (Coluber), viridiflavus
Couleuvre verte et Jaune
( syn. Française Zamenis)