I caught this snake in the Dolomites in Northern Italy, in a high-ish (750m) gorge that was lush and heavy with vegetation.

I think, from the description and photos, that it’s a Western Whip Snake, but given they grow up to 150cm it is a young specimen.

Can anyone confirm this, or suggest a different species?

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  • From The 18 Types of Snakes That Live in Italy the Smooth Snake seems to be a fit – "On the top of the head is a dark marking which is often in the shape of a crown". But I don't know for sure. Sep 3, 2023 at 13:43
  • ...but the body markings look more like the rare Walser Viper. Sep 3, 2023 at 13:49
  • @WeatherVane smooth snake is a possibility. I thought it was a slow worm at first, it was that smooth. It was well outside of the known range of the Walser Viper.
    – Darren
    Sep 3, 2023 at 14:23
  • @WeatherVane I would have said the light coloured marking was in the crown shape in OP's photo. Vipers also have very characteristic heads and thick necks. Definitely Colubrid I think.
    – bob1
    Sep 4, 2023 at 2:35
  • 1
    @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket glitter nail varnish.
    – Darren
    Sep 9, 2023 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


I think (with little to no expertise in this) that you are correct in your ID of Western or Green Whip Snake (Hierophis viridiflavus).

I find snakes difficult as there is so much variation in the patterns of the scales. In the case of the green whip snake, these can be anything from almost no pattern, just blackish to vivid yellow/white blotches/bars.

However, a search of iNaturalist seems to confirm the ID, with a very similar photo, as well as several more that point in the same direction. Many of the photos show the same whitish ring around the top of the head and a gradation of patterns from the head along the body.

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