A shy Northwest African reptile which is also found in Malta is the Algerian Whip Snake, known in Maltese as Is-Serp Aħdar. On our islands it is considered to be rare, it having a distribution mostly limited to the northeast of Malta.
It is thought that this snake had been accidentally introduced to our islands in the early part of the twentieth century, when it was imported from Africa in some fire-wood shipments, which were subsequently stored in Floriana.
The Algerian Whip Snake may grow up to 100 cm in length. Its dorsal part is somewhat yellowish-orange or grey in colour, with transverse black bars at intervals. Its ventral part is whitish. Often it has a series of spots along each of its sides. The eyes are large with a round pupil and the snout is slightly pointed.
It is usually active during the day and at sunset, when it feeds on lizards, skinks, geckos, small snakes, young birds and small mammals.
Even though Maltese snakes are mostly harmless to humans, there exist many phobias and myths about snakes and unfortunately this has sometimes led to their persecution. The Algerian Whip snake, like all native snakes, has been protected since 1992. One should not pursue, take, kill or keep these fascinating reptiles.