Herpetofauna of Europe : peloponnese - greece (october 2004)
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Herpetological trip on Peloponnese (Greece)
2 October - 9 October 2004

All pictures (c) of Jeroen Speybroeck.

In October 2004, I joined a group of Eco Tourist Services on a one week herpetological trip to the Peloponnese (southern Greece). We were with 18 people: Edo (leading the trip), Ruud (co-leader), Luuc, Inge, Roel, Toos, Eric, Rita, Haiko, Maud, Dick, Carlo, Frank, Erik, Martin, Ruth, Frits and myself. Not everyone was equally anxious on turning stones and jumping snakes, but after all we managed to see 29 species of amphibians (7) and reptiles (22) - a rather succesful number in view of the rather dry and hot late summer conditions. Main areas covered were the central part around Tripoli, the area around southern Taygetos (Mani peninsula) and the southwest of the Peloponnese. Interesting observations were Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax) and African Chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus).
Apart from the group of which I was a part, I would like to thank some people who shared their knowledge on where to find some or several species: Benny Trapp, Lasse Bergendorf, Jan Van Der Voort, Paul Edgar, Roger Bour, Byron Asimakopoulos, Borislav Naumov, Lothar Gutjahr and Jaap van Wingerde. Furthermore, the success of searches for some species was, of course, also due to the preparations made by Edo and Ruud, leading the trip.


overview of prospected sites

2 October – near Tripoli

After our arrival on Athens airport, we drove to the center of the Peloponnese peninsula. Before checking in to our hotel for a one night stay, we searched at a first stop in the late afternoon, about 10 kilometers northeast of Tripoli. In the open dry area with some hedgerows and few rocks, we found Hermann's Tortoise (Testudo hermanni), Balkan Whip Snake (Hierophis gemonensis), Snake-eyed Skink (Ablepharus kitaibelii), Green Toad (Bufo viridis), Eastern Montpellier Snake (Malpolon insignitus) and my first Marginated Tortoise (Testudo marginata). Back in Tripoli, the first gecko was observed, probably Turkish Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus).


Marginated Tortoise (Testudo marginata)

juvenile Balkan Whip Snake (Hierophis gemonensis)

the site near Tripoli

3 October - near Davia, near Tripoli (take 2) and transit to Gythio

The first full day of herp hunting started at the town of Davia, northwest of Tripoli. We walked around Ano Davia, along some dry stone walls and moist fields and found Balkan Wall Lizard (Podarcis tauricus), Peloponnese Wall Lizard (Podarcis peloponnesiacus), a juvenile Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata), Greek Marsh Frog (Rana kurtmuelleri), a dead Common Toad (Bufo bufo), Balkan Whip Snake and in a small water source we found Balkan Stream Frog (Rana graeca). After lunch, we went to the same general area as the day before, where we were hoping to find Leopard Snake (Zamenis situla). While our group leaders were succesfull at this site in Spring, we had no luck this time. We drove on to the south, to our second stay in Vathi near Gythio. After diner, we took a little walk in the warm night and saw a lot of Turkish Gecko, together with some Kotschy's Gecko (Mediodactylus kotschyi). Along a stone wall with a lot of both gecko species running about, Edo caught a young Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax), hunting for geckoes.


Balkan Wall Lizard (Podarcis tauricus)

female Peloponnese Wall Lizard (Podarcis peloponnesiacus)

male Peloponnese Wall Lizard (Podarcis peloponnesiacus)

Danaus chrysippus

Balkan Stream Frog (Rana graeca) ...

... and its home

Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax) ...

... same ...

... and where it was found

4 October - east of and nearby Gythio

First stop was a small dry valley near Trinisa. After a while, we found two Limbless Skinks (Ophiomorus punctatissimus) here, and also Greek Marsh Frog, Peloponnese Wall Lizard and Marginated Tortoise. We moved on, to a next stop at the mouth of a river near Trinisa, where we saw both European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis) and Balkan Terrapin (Mauremys rivulata), Greek Marsh Frog, Balkan Green Lizard and a Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata). At a (dry) marshland near a rusty ship wreck, we found Snake-eyed Skink and Common Tree Frog (Hyla arborea).


Limbless Skink (Ophiomorus punctatissimus)

Common Tree Frog (Hyla arborea)

5 October - western Taygetos

Along the main road, we stopped near Pigi, next to a round-shaped (dry) water tank. Along the nice dry stone walls, we found a dead Green Toad, Balkan Green Lizard, Kotschy's Gecko, Peloponnese Wall Lizard and Greek Rock Lizard (Hellenolacerta graeca). A nice olive grove near Agios Nikoloas delivered Limbless Skink, Montpellier Snake and Nose-horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes). At a stop along our climb between Neochori and Pirgos, we found Greek Rock Lizard, Kotschy's Gecko, Montpellier Snake and Balkan Green Lizard.
In Kariovouni, we had lunch and here we found a lot of Greek Rock Lizard and a Greek Algyroides (Algyroides moreoticus). On the way back to our hotel near Gythio, we stopped at another olive grove near Neochori and here we found Glass Lizard (Pseudopus apodus), Hermann's Tortoise and Weissinger's Tortoise (Testudo marginata - weissingeri morph).


Greek Rock Lizard (Hellenolacerta graeca)

juvenile Nose-horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes)

6 October - Mani in between Gythio and Areopoli

We made 6 search stops on this day and found Weissinger's Tortoise, Nose-horned Viper, Greek Algyroides, Greek Rock Lizard, Balkan Whip Snake, Balkan Green Lizard and Green Toad. Near Platanos, half of the group found Peloponnese Slow Worm (Anguis cephallonica), while the others found it too, at the Neochori olive grove where we had found Glass Lizard the day before.


Weissinger's Tortoise (Testudo marginata - weissingeri morph)

Weissinger's Tortoise (Testudo marginata - weissingeri morph)

habitat of Weissinger's Tortoise (Testudo marginata - weissingeri morph)

Peloponnese Slow Worm (Anguis cephallonica)

Peloponnese Slow Worm (Anguis cephallonica)

Peloponnese Slow Worm (Anguis cephallonica) was found underneath the green stone

7 & 8 October - southwestern Peloponnese

On the 7th, we moved to our third and final stay, in the southwest of the Peloponnese. On the 8th, we explored the area and found Dahl's Whip Snake (Platyceps najadum), Common Tree Frog, Marginated Tortoise and the highly endangered African Chamaeleon (Chamaeleo africanus). Nearby, there was a small, lowland river, with both Greek Marsh Frog and Balkan Stream Frog. In the afternoon, a part of the group moved to Kaiafas lake, where we found some Greek Marsh Frog and a lot of Epirus Water Frog (Pelophylax epeiroticus).


African Chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus) - spurs on hind feet of this male visible

African Chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus)

African Chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus)

African Chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus)

genuine acrobacy of African Chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus)

newborns of African Chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus) (3 hours old!)

Epirus Water Frog (Pelophylax epeiroticus)

Epirus Water Frog (Pelophylax epeiroticus)

habitat of Epirus Water Frog (Pelophylax epeiroticus)

9 October - last stop in central Peloponnese

The end had come again, so we had to get back to Athens. But not without making a final stop some 30 kilometers southwest of Tripoli. Here we found Balkan Marsh Frog, Greek Algyroides, Montpellier Snake, Snake-eyed Skink, Limbless Skink and Common Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris).


juvenile Eastern Montpellier Snake (Malpolon insignitus)

List of the observed species

1. Common Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)
2. Common Toad (Bufo bufo)
3. Green Toad (Bufo viridis)
4. Common Tree Frog (Hyla arborea)
5. Greek Marsh Frog (Pelophylax kurtmuelleri)
6. Epirus Water Frog (Pelophylax epeiroticus)
7. Balkan Stream Frog (Rana graeca)
8. Hermann's Tortoise (Testudo hermanni)
9. Marginated Tortoise (Testudo marginata) and Weissinger's Tortoise (weissingeri morph)
10. European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis)
11. Balkan Terrapin (Mauremys rivulata)
12. African Chameleon (Chamaeleo africanus)
13. Turkish Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)
14. Kotschy's Gecko (Mediodactylus kotschyi)
15. Greek Algyroides (Algyroides moreoticus)
16. Balkan Green Lizard (Lacerta trilineata)
17. Greek Rock Lizard (Hellenolacerta graeca)
18. Balkan Wall Lizard (Podarcis tauricus)
19. Peloponnese Wall Lizard (Podarcis peloponnesiacus)
20. Snake-eyed Skink (Ablepharus kitaibelii)
21. Limbless Skink (Ophiomorus punctatissimus)
22. Peloponnese Slow Worm (Anguis cephallonica)
23. Glass Lizard (Pseudopus apodus)
24. Balkan Whip Snake (Hierophis gemonensis)
25. Dahl's Whip Snake (Platyceps najadum)
26. Dice Snake (Natrix tessellata)
27. Eastern Montpellier Snake (Malpolon insignitus)
28. Cat Snake (Telescopus fallax)
29. Nose-horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes)

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