Herping Peloponnese tour: April 14th

Herping & Wildlife break: Peloponnese April 14th, 2023

We organized a short half day trip to southern Peloponnese for a couple of British herping enthusiasts that were taking their holidays in Mani area. So we spent a morning scanning the surrounding locations, looking for endemic lizards, amphibians and snakes. 

Greek Rock Lizard (Hellenolacerta graeca) is abundant 
in many areas of Peloponnese

Mani is famous for its olive oil production, thus the prominent vegetation was olive trees, found particularly everywhere. The climate here is very mild in winter, so herpetofauna is usually active even in the coldest month, since temperatures rarely fall under 10-15 degreed celcius during the day. Of course, spring is the best time for a herping trip in Peloponnese, since nature is alive and wildlife is active!

A breathtaking view of Messinian Mani Peninsula

Olive-trees grown literally on rocks at Mani

We began looking for toads at a very reliable spot, where there is a spring of crystal water coming from Mt Taygetos. Like every year, we found Green Toads (Bufotes virides) in amplexus, and thousands of eggs and tadpoles of both Green Toad and Common Toad (Bufo bufo).

Green Toads (Bufotes virides) in amplexus

It was not long before we found two endemic specialties, some of our target species, right at the same spot: Greek Rock Lizard (Hellenolacerta graeca) and Peloponnese Wall Lizard (Podacris peloponnesiacus) coming out from two rusty metal tubes, looking for the first sun rays of the day. What a sighting! Surprisingly, the Greek Rock Lizard seemes more active and playful, and started to drink water from the top part of another tube.

Greek Rock Lizard (Hellenolacerta graeca) top and 
Peloponnese Wall Lizard (Podacris peloponnesiacus) below 

A thirsty Greek Rock Lizard (Hellenolacerta graeca)

Troupakis Tower at Kardamyli, Mani

Mt Taygetos overlooking endless olive orchards
at Mani Peninsula, Peloponnese

After enjoying good views of both cloroful species of lizards, we drove higher up in the mountains, hoping some better pictures. We found a nice rocky slope and waited for some action. A Nose-horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes) was basking and gave us a few nice photos, until it run away between the olive trees.  The area was full of Greek Rock Lizards and Peloponnese Wall Lizards, thus we had lots of fun observing their behavior and taking lots of nice photos.

Nose-horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes)

A colorful male Peloponnese Wall Lizard (Podacris peloponnesiacus)

Peloponnese Wall Lizard (Podacris peloponnesiacus)

We decided to drive all the way to the coast, in search for different habitats which proved to be quite productive too. A huge Four-line Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata) was found under a big pile of wood. A very docile animal, that we were glad we found it. 

Four-line Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata)

Four-line Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata)

Four-line Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata)

We saw an abundant building nearby, so we though about exporing it, looking for some more reptiles. On one of the walls we found a tiny Meditarranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) climbing and disappearing in a few seconds in the roof.  After searching a lot around the house, flipping anything possible, we met a Leopard Snake (Zamenis situla), a striking animal with such a colorful appearance. 

A very shy Meditarranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)

Leopard Snake (Zamenis situla)
(Photo by I.Bisset, I.Brandley)

Hellenolacerta graeca GREECE BIRD TOURS
Greek Rock Lizard (Hellenolacerta graeca)

Hellenolacerta graeca GREECE BIRD TOURS
Greek Rock Lizard (Hellenolacerta graeca)

In general, we enjoyed wildlife at its best, lots of butteflies, wild orchids, dragonflies. 

Megascolia maculata WILDLIFE GREECE
Mammoth Wasp (Megascolia maculata), a totally harmless lepidopteran

Argolian bee-orchid (Ophrys argolica)

Naked-man Orchid (Orchis italica)

Orange-tip Butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines)

The full reptile and amphibian list of our herping morning in Peloponnese:

Balkan Frog (Pelophylax kurtmuelleri)
Green Toad (Bufotes virides)
Common Toad (Bufo bufo)
Marginated Tortoise (Testudo marginata)
Meditarranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)
Greek Rock Lizard (Hellenolacerta graeca) ENDEMIC SPECIES
Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata)
Peloponnese Wall Lizard (Podarcis peloponnesiaca) ENDEMIC SPECIES
European Snake-eyed Skink (Ablepharus kitaibelli)
Leopard Snake (Zamenis situla)
Four-line Snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata)
Nose-horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes)

Spyros Skareas
Bird Guide and Certified Tour Leader
Athens, GREECE