If you need to identify a snake, try the Snake Identification Facebook group.
For professional, respectful, and non-lethal snake removal and consultation services in your town, try Wildlife Removal USA.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Snakes of Morocco

Earlier this month I went to Morocco to attend the 5th Biology of the Vipers conference. The conference was organized by Fernando Martínez-Freiría and Soumia Fahd and featured a fantastic three-day scientific program in Chefchaouen followed by a six-day field excursion to southern Morocco to look for snakes. I learned a lot and got lots of great feedback on Life is Short but Snakes are Long, but unfortunately I didn't have time to finish writing May's article, which I aim to put up next week. On the way back, I also stopped by Jerez de la Frontera and finally met Alvaro Pemartin and Estefania Carrillo, whose dedicated translations have brought Life is Short but Snakes are Long to Spanish-speaking readers around the world!

Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus)

Saharan horned viper (Cerastes cerastes)

Puff Adder (Bitis arietans)

Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje)
Me on the streets of Chefchaouen

Me looking for vipers in  Toubkal National Park
Estefania and I in Jerez
We also met with an Aisaoua, a member of the traditional brotherhood of snake hunters in Morocco, who collect the snakes that are used by the snake charmers who put on shows. This tradition is at least 800 years old, and possibly as old as 2,000 years, and is an example of a human-reptile interaction with both positive and negative aspects. It was really interesting to see their method for finding snakes—they are very effective! More on this in a future article.


Thanks to Konrad Mebert and Alvaro Pemartin III for allowing me to use their photographs, 


Bons, J., P. Geniez, A. Montori, V. Roca, and E. Asociación Herpetológica. 1996. Amphibiens et reptiles du Maroc (Sahara Occidental compris) : atlas biogéographique = Anfibios y reptiles de Marruecos (incluido Sáhara Occidental) : atlas biogeográfico = Amphibians & reptiles of Morocco (including Western Sahara) : biogeographical atlas.

Pleguezuelos, J. M., M. Feriche, J. C. Brito, and S. Fahd. 2016. Snake charming and the exploitation of snakes in Morocco. Oryx :1-8 <link>

Tingle, J. L. and T. Slimani. 2017. Snake charming in Morocco. The Journal of North African Studies :1-18 <link>

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Life is Short, but Snakes are Long by Andrew M. Durso is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.