Photo: Savvas Zotos

Cyprus whip snake

Hierophis cypriensis

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Family:  Colubridae



Very thin snake with a length up to one meter. Young individuals have an olive green body color while adults are black. At the top of the back thin transverse white stripes can be seen, while there is also a characteristic white ring around the eye.

Basic biology:


It usually lives in areas with dense vegetation which are located near streams, rivers and ravines. Ιt was  first found in forested areas but it seems to have a wider distribution. It is believed that the species hibernates only in the high peaks of Troodos, where low temperatures are maintained for a relatively long period of time, while in areas where temperatures drop only for a short period of the year, the species seems to simply limit its activity.


It feeds on small mammals, lizards, frogs and large insects.

When spotted from a distance, it follows an immobility behaviour which makes it relatively easy to capture by hand. It seems to exhibit a similar behaviour when crossing dirt roads, where it remains still in the presence of a passing vehicles, which increases the possibility of being killed by them.


The species lays eggs, but beyond that, there is no information on clutch size, the reproductive strategy, mating conditions, length of gestation and hatching, site of egg deposition, or environmental conditions required for hatching.

Distribution at Cyprus:

From the coasts to the highest peaks of Troodos.

Global distribution:

Endemic of Cyprus


Aglyphous - Non venomous


Not particularly common to rare

Protection status:


Map of confirmed presence:

Download the distribution of the species (kml format, Google Earth)