Species and habitat description

Its length can be up to 120 cm or in some cases up to 200 cm. Its body is slender and forceful. The colour on the backside of adults can vary from olive green to yellowish brown to brown. Some individuals have darker stripe on both sides of the back and on the flanks. The abdomen is yellow or off-white. Its eyes are brown, Its pupils are round. The colour of young specimens differs significantly from that of adults. Their body colour is brownish, mosaic-like or blotchy. The stripe behind the eye is almost black, highlighted in particular towards the back, by a bright yellow patch on each side of the neckline. Juveniles are often confused with the Grass Snakes because of this feature.
The Aesculapean Snake is mainly found in woody, bushy vegetation types with, glades and sunny areas. It prefers the open oak forests, forest edges and any place where the closed forest breaks for some reason. It loves to sun-bathe at logs, at the edges of forest shrubs and along stone piles. Occasionally it occurs in wild gardens or those planted with natural vegetation. Sometimes it even goes into houses to look for hiding places or prey. In Central Europe it reaches 1000-1200 meters in elevation and 2000 meters in the Mediterranean. In southern Europe it prefers the dense vegetation cover.

Major threats

Habitat loss, due to the increase in tree cover in the rocky areas where it is present, and human pressure, due to trampling and the passage of hikers and cyclists. Larkspurt is an endemic species of Emilia-Romagna region, and is included in the List of Vegetal Species. It is included in the List of Target Plant Species of Conservation Interest in the Region (2017) and it is classified as NT (almost at risk).

Specific conservation action

Establishing and maintaining glades in oak forests, reducing traffic on forest roads, and placing signboards can help protect the species.

Related project areas
Cserépfalu környéki erdők, Mátraszentimre-Fallóskút