Herpetofauna of Europe : s spain (april 2006)
Herpetofauna of Europe European Amphibians & Reptiles

Herpetological trip to Andalucia and Murcia (southern Spain)
14th of April – 30th of April 2006

All pictures (c) of Jeroen Speybroeck.

The south of Spain is home to several endemic Iberian herps. We visited areas in Huelva, Cadiz, Granada, Jaen, Almeria and Murcia, trying to find as much as possible of the local herpetofauna. Much of our time was spent at Doñana and wider surroundings, PN Alcornocales and the Sierra de Cazorla. Although breeding of several amphibians had stopped long before our arrival on one hand, and the number of caught snakes might have been higher later in the year on the other hand, we were very successful with regard to the desired species list. Forty-one species of amphibians (15) and reptiles (26) were observed, thus this time of the year seemed a good compromis between hunting amphibians and hunting reptiles. We were nine people: Jan VDV, Peter, Anniek, Elfriede, Gijs, Bram, Jan W, Marc and myself.
I am indebted to a number of people for their hints concerning this trip: Daniel Escoriza, Pierre-André Crochet, Lasse Bergendorf, Per Blomberg, Maribel Benitez, Ronald Laan and friends and Wouter Vries.
Furthermore, we were kindly guided by some local herp lovers, and for that we are most grateful. Many thanks to Juan Pablo Gonzalez de la Vega, Victor Gabari Boa & Daniel, Javier & a guy who’s name I forgot (Huelva), Luis Garcia (Granada & Jaen) and Pilar Sanchez Sanchez (Murcia).

map of the Iberian peninsula with indication of prospected sites

14th of April – first herps in the rain

Our first herps were Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica), Iberian Worm Lizard (Blanus cinereus) and Western Three-toed Skink (Chalcides striatus) at Jerez de la Frontera airport. On our way to our stay in Huelva city, we passed near Almonte, and in the rain we found larvae of Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita), Moorish Gecko, Spanish Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) and several tens of juveniles plus two adults of West Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi galganoi). In the evening, we met with Juan Pablo in Huelva and made plans for the next three days.

West Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi galganoi)

15th of April – southern Huelva (1)

Victor and Daniel first took us to an open pine wood. We found Natterjack Toad, Iberian Water Frog (Pelophylax perezi), two pre-moulting, so ugly, False Smooth Snakes (Macroprotodon brevis), an Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii), larvae of Western Spadefoot (Pelobates cultripes), Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus - everpresent), Viperine Snake (Natrix maura) and Sharp-ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl). Next was a ruin very near to Huelva city, with a dead Common Toad (Bufo bufo), Iberian Worm Lizard, Large Psammodromus, Moorish Gecko and quite some Bedriaga’s Skink (Chalcides bedriagai). Next was a coastal site where we found Mediterranean Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon). After that, a long walk on the sand cliff above the beach near Mazagon. Strange but no Carbonell’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis carbonelli), but Spiny-footed Lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus) was found, together with Large Psammodromus. Next, we drove to El Acebuche while the sun was setting and met with our Dutch colleagues during the final days of their herp trip. They showed us two Lataste’s Vipers (Vipera latastei gaditana) they had caught and we kept them for pictures the next day. Also the first Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus). We ate all together at El Rocio and after that our Hyla team went for a drive in the dark. We found Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis), Viperine Snake, Iberian Water Frog, Natterjack Toad and Western Spadefoot near El Acebuche.

first site of the day with Macroprotodon brevis, Alytes cisternasii and more

Mediterranean Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon)…

… and people – Gijs, Marc, Victor, Bram and Jan VDV

habitat of Bedriaga’s Skink (Chalcides bedriagai)

Bedriaga’s Skink (Chalcides bedriagai)

Iberian Worm Lizard (Blanus cinereus)

Western Spadefoot (Pelobates cultripes)

16th of April – southern Huelva (2)

First back to El Acebuche. Plenty of Carbonell’s Wall Lizard. While most of us were photographing the “Dutch vipers”, Peter couldn’t help it and caught yet another (bigger) one. In the same area also Spiny-footed Lizard, Moorish Gecko, Large Psammodromus and Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus). In the marshes, unfortunately, Red-eared Terrapin was present (Trachemys scripta elegans). Two fresh guides from among Juan Pablo’s friends guided us to some sites without finding species new for the trip, but nevertheless, yet another viper, Viperine Snake, Iberian Water Frog, Montpellier Snake, Iberian Worm Lizard, Sharp-ribbed Newt, tadpoles of Western Spadefoot and Natterjack Toad.

Carbonell’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis carbonelli)

Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus)

Lataste’s Viper (Vipera latastei gaditana)

Peter, Marc, Ronald, Gijs, Arjan, Jan W, Bram, Javier and viper

Spiny-footed Lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus)

Viperine Snake (Natrix maura)

Carbonell’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis carbonelli)

17th of April – northern Huelva

Juan Pablo went with us himself and guided us at several sites from Huelva up to the Sierra Morena. First stop was an old railway station close to Huelva, with Viperine Snake, Moorish Gecko, Large Psammodromus and larvae of Iberian Parsley Frog (Pelodytes ibericus). Further north, our first Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus) at a small dump site. Next was a small village with some nice pools, containing mainly amphibian larvae of Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus), Natterjack Toad, Iberian Water Frog and probably West Iberian Painted Frog. Also another Montpellier Snake. At a branch of the Rio Tinto, nothing much but Iberian Worm Lizard and Turkish Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus). After that, some small ruins with False Smooth Snake. Next was the Embalse de Campofrio with more Turkish Gecko, Large Psammodromus, Iberian Water Frog, False Smooth Snake, larvae of both Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra morenica) and Bosca’s Newt (Lissotriton boscai) and Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus "morphotype 2"). Final stop with Juan Pablo was an abandonned miner’s village with an adult Fire Salamander and Iberian Worm Lizard. After that, we said goodbye to Juan Pablo and went by ourselves to Fuente de la Corcha, which offered a nice chorus of Stripeless Tree Frog and also Iberian Water Frog, Natterjack Toad and Bosca’s Newt.

railway station near Huelva with tadpoles of Pelodytes ibericus

our first Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus)

False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon brevis)

Turkish Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)

Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra morenica)

18th of April – PN de los Alcornocales (1)

We left Huelva behind and went to stay at Alcala de los Gazules. After finding a hostal, we drove south and not very far from Los Barrios, we searched a nice meadow with several tens of juveniles of East Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi jeanneae), some as well of Iberian Parsley Frog, together with Iberian Water Frog, Western Three-toed Skink and Ocellated Lizard. On our way back, we stopped at some nice large rocks with a brook running in the shadow of the trees. Here we found Vaucher’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis vaucheri), Large Psammodromus and a juvenile Fire Salamander ((sub)species longirostris). In the late afternoon, we had a final search near the motorway exit of Alcala and two Horseshoe Whip Snakes (Hemorrhois hippocrepis) were caught, together with a Western Three-toed Skink.

juvenile Iberian Parsley Frog (Pelodytes ibericus)

juvenile East Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi jeanneae)

habitat of Pelodytes ibericus, Discoglossus galganoi jeanneae, Chalcides striatus, Pelophylax perezi and Timon lepidus

Western Three-toed Skink (Chalcides striatus)

young Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus)

Vaucher’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis vaucheri)

19th of April – PN de los Alcornocales (2)

We made a tour through the area and our first stop was near Estacion de San Roque. Immediately, a DOR East Iberian Painted Frog was found. Not really a succesfull stop (Large Psammodromus, Spanish Terrapin), if it wasn’t that Peter managed to find a living adult painted frog. At Castellar de la Frontera, Vaucher’s Wall Lizard, again larvae and juveniles of East Iberian Painted Frog, Turkish Gecko, Western Three-toed Skink and Iberian Worm Lizard. At a mountain pass north of Jimena de la Frontera, only Vaucher’s again. At La Sauceda, a dead Montpellier Snake, Viperine Snake, another juvenile of Fire Salamander (longirostris) and an adult Grass Snake (Natrix natrix astreptophora), which is not at all common in the south of Spain.

East Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi jeanneae)

portrait of Grass Snake (Natrix natrix astreptophora)

Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra longirostris)

20th of April – PN de los Alcornocales (3)

We made another tour and stopped first at Puerto de El Boyar, without much success. Below the town of Grazalema, Bedriaga’s and Three-toed Skink, Worm Lizard, Vaucher’s Wall Lizard and Large Psammodromus. An open grassy spot along the road through the oak forest, with a lot of Three-toed Skinks, Ocellated Lizard and larvae of Common Toad and Fire Salamander (again longirostris). Last stop at a typical spot for Spanish Psammodromus, together with Common Toad and Vaucher’s Wall Lizard.

habitat of Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus) etc.

remarkable Drosophyllum lusitanicum

Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

21th of April – from PN de los Alcornocales to Loja

We moved further east towards Loja, where we would meet with Luis Garcia in the evening. First stop at a brook near Canillas de Aceituno delivered Montpellier Snake, Viperine Snake, Large Psammodromus, an unidentified type of Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus s.l.) and the first tadpoles of Southern Midwife Toad (Alytes dickhilleni). Near Alcaucin, again Large Psammodromus and Viperine Snake aka the ubiquitous duo. At Puerto de los Alazoras, we went from Malaga into Granada province and found Sharp-ribbed Newt, tadpoles of Iberian Parsley Frog, Natterjack Toad and Ocellated Lizard. In the evening, we had the pleasure of meeting with Luis Garcia. After dark, he showed us some nearby pools, where we found Southern Marbled Newt, Viperine Snake, False Smooth Snake, Sharp-ribbed Newt, Moorish Gecko, Stripeless Tree Frog and Iberian Water Frog.

swimming at the terra typica of Southern Midwife Toad (Alytes dickhilleni)

False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon brevis)

Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus)…

… found in this pond

22th of April – Andujar and northern Jaen

Hoping to see Spanish lynx (Lynx pardina), we went quite some distance north. While the mammal addicts sat on their behinds for the whole day, another team made a tour in the area with Luis. Species observed were Large Psammodromus, Spanish Terrapin, Ocellated Lizard, Horseshoe Whip Snake, Montpellier Snake, Viperine Snake, Natterjack Toad and tadpoles of Western Spadefoot. Still no Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris) … . We picked up the unfortunate lynx watchers and drove still further to the northeast towards the northern border of Jaen and Andalucia. In the dark, we stopped at a brook (with a noisy party nearby, messing up amphibian song), and found Stripeless Tree Frog, Natterjack Toad, Bosca’s Newt (close to its eastern limit) and Iberian Midwife Toad. After this, a long drive back to Loja in apocalyptical rain was waiting.

Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus "morphotype 2"(?))


and yet another one

Peter and Bram coming back from a snake hunt near Andujar

Horseshoe Whip Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis)

nicely coloured Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii)

23th of April – western Granada

Luis guided us once more. First a very closeby spot for painted frog but no water this year apparently – only Iberian Worm Lizard. Stopping at yet another pond, Peter found an unexpected but highly appreciated Southern Smooth Snake (Coronella girondica). Only minutes later, Luis showed up with our first Ladder Snake. We moved on to visit two sites for Southern Midwife Toad. First a short stop near a nest of Bonelli’s Eagle, where Bram found another False Smooth Snake. Only larvae at the first midwife spot plus yet another False Smooth Snake and Iberian Worm Lizard. At the second spot only a dead adult Midwife Toad, besides a dead Common Toad, some Sharp-ribbed Newts, Iberian Water Frog and Iberian Worm Lizard.

Southern Smooth Snake (Coronella girondica)

Southern Smooth Snake (Coronella girondica)

Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris)

24th of April – from Loja to Sierra de Cazorla (1)

We left Loja and arrived at the Sierra de Cazorla in cloudy weather. At a site, indicated by the Dutch team, we found only Wall Lizard (type 2?), Worm Lizard and Large Psammodromus. With what was left of the day, we went searching at Puente de las Herrerias for Southern Midwife Toad. Iberian Water Frog and Bedriaga’s Skink were found. At night some calling midwife toads but too few to locate one.

25th of April – Sierra de Cazorla (2)

Better weather and sun this time, which allowed us to observe several Spanish Algyroides (Algyroides marchi) at the “Dutch site” plus a DOR midwife toad. Next, we made a short hike from the visitor centre along Rio Borosa. Found Iberian Water Frog, Ocellated Lizard, Viperine Snake, Wall Lizard, Large Psammodromus, Three-toed Skink, Spanish Algyroides and Moorish Gecko. After that, we drove north to the shores of the Embalse de Tranco. We found Three-toed Skink and Large Psammodromus. In the evening, we went back to Puente de las Herrerias and this time we found a Southern Midwife Toad jumping around instead of hidden in unreachable crevices.

Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus "morphotype 2"(?))

Spanish Algyroides (Algyroides marchi)

Southern Midwife Toad (Alytes dickhilleni)

26th of April – Sierra de Cazorla (3)

At the source of the river Guadalquivir, we found Wall Lizard, Spanish Algyroides, Ocellated Lizard, Large Psammodromus and Moorish Gecko. Near a ruin along the unpaved road taking us back to our hostal in La Iruela, we found a water tank with a lot of midwife toad tadpoles. Same lizards nearby again.

breeding water of Southern Midwife Toad (Alytes dickhilleni) with Gijs, Jan W taking a nap and Bram in the background

27th of April – from Jaen to Almeria

We moved further east through Granada into northern Almeria province. Inspired by Pinho et al. (2006), we went looking for Podarcis hispanicus s.s. Animals from Puebla de Don Fadrique and Galera looked exactly the same to us. At the former, we also found Spanish Psammodromus and Iberian Worm Lizard. At the latter, also Spanish Terrapin, Large Psammodromus and Viperine Snake. Just before getting on the motorway towards the east, we found a DOR Ocellated Lizard ((sub)species nevadensis). We stayed at Vélez-Blanco. We found Iberian Water Frog, Natterjack Toad and a parsley frog. The latter was found in the contact zone of Pelodytes ibericus and Pelodytes punctatus. Based on morphology, we would suppose it to be ibericus, while distribution seems to favour punctatus. Similar cases from nearby locations underwent DNA analysis and have been shown to be punctatus.

Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus) from Puebla de Don Fadrique

Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus) from Galera

Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita)

Parsley Frog (Pelodytes punctatus)

28th of April – Murcia (1)

Pilar Sanchez Sanchez from the Fundacion Global Nature took us (in bad weather) to a Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca graeca) spot. Tortoises were found both inside and outside fences. Next to the fence, Peter caught two Ladder Snakes. Also Large Psammodromus and Moorish Gecko.

Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca graeca)

Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca graeca)

Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris)

habitat of Spur-tighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca graeca)

29th of April – Murcia (2)

Last day of herping, coloured in part by Gijs’s wallet being lost-and-found. Close to the tortoise site of the day before, another tortoise, a big Montpellier Snake, Turkish Gecko and Spanish Psammodromus. Last search at PN Carrasoy y el Valle, with Large Psammodromus and several Ocellated Lizard but unfortunately none caught.

large and well-fed Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

30th of April – back home

By plane from Murcia to Brussels.

List of the observed species

1. Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra) – subspecies morenica and (sub)species longirostris
2. Sharp-ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl)
3. Southern Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus)
4. Bosca’s Newt (Lissotriton boscai)
5. Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii)
6. Southern Midwife Toad (Alytes dickhilleni)
7. West Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi galganoi) and East Iberian Painted Frog (Discoglossus galganoi jeanneae)
8. Iberian Parsley Frog (Pelodytes ibericus)
9. Parsley Frog (Pelodytes punctatus)
10. Western Spadefoot (Pelobates cultripes)
11. Common Toad (Bufo bufo)
12. Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita)
13. Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis)
14. Iberian Water Frog (Pelophylax perezi)
15. Red-eared Terrapin (Trachemys scripta elegans)
16. Spanish Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa)
17. Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca graeca)
18. Mediterranean Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon)
19. Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica)
20. Turkish Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)
21. Spiny-footed Lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus)
22. Spanish Algyroides (Algyroides marchi)
23. Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus)
24. Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus) – subspecies hispanicus and edwardsianus
25. Ocellated Lizard (Timon lepidus) – subspecies lepidus and (sub)species nevadensis
26. Carbonell’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis carbonelli)
27. Vaucher’s Wall Lizard (Podarcis vaucheri)
28. Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus s.s. – Galera & Puebla de Don Fadrique)
29. Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanicus morphotype 2)
30. Bedriaga’s Skink (Chalcides bedriagai cobosi)
31. Western Three-toed Skink (Chalcides striatus)
32. Iberian Worm Lizard (Blanus cinereus)
33. Horseshoe Whip Snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis)
34. Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris)
35. Viperine Snake (Natrix maura)
36. Grass Snake (Natrix natrix astreptophora)
37. Southern Smooth Snake (Coronella girondica)
38. False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon brevis)
39. Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)
40. Lataste’s Viper (Vipera latastei gaditana)

What we missed …

1. Common Tree Frog (Hyla arborea) – missed it at one site in Huelva
2. European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis) – missed it in Huelva and near Andujar
3. Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca) – very rare in Andalucia, mainly at locations that are still covered with snow in April.
Presence of Schreiber’s Green Lizard (Lacerta schreiberi) in Andalucia is doubtful and unconfirmed. Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus) is introduced in urban Almeria but we didn’t bother to go there for that species.

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