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Natrix maura

Natrix maura (Source)

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Infraordo: Caenophidia
Superfamilia: Colubroidea

Familia: Colubridae
Subfamilia: Natricinae
Genus: Natrix
Species: Natrix maura

Natrix maura (Linnaeus, 1758)

Lectotype: NHR Lin-214 (formerly MAFR). [designated by Wallach, Williams & Boundy (2014: 477)]

Type locality: “Algiriae [= Algeria]”.

Coluber maurus Linnaeus, 1758: 219 [original combination]
Natrix maura — Lindholm, 1929: 81 [subsequent combination]

Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Editio Decima, Reformata. Tomus I. Holmiæ (Stockholm): impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii. 824 pp. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.542 BHL Reference page.


Uetz, P. & Hallermann, J. 2022. Natrix maura. The Reptile Database. Accessed on 28 January 2019.
Mateo Miras, J.A., Cheylan, M., Saïd Nouira, M., Joger, U., Sá-Sousa, P., Pérez-Mellado, V., Schmidt, B., Meyer, A., Sindaco, R., Romano, A. & Martínez-Solano, I. 2009. IUCN: Natrix maura (Least Concern). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T61538A12510365. DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T61538A12510365.en

Vernacular names
aragonés: Natrix maura
català: Colobra escurçonera
Deutsch: Vipernatter
English: Viperine Water Snake
español: Culebra viperina
euskara: Suge biperakara
français: Couleuvre vipérine
italiano: Natrice viperina
македонски: Маварска барска змија
Nederlands: Adderringslang
português: Cobra-de-água-viperina
русский: Гадюковый уж
українська: Гадюковий вуж

Natrix maura is a natricine water snake of the genus Natrix. Its common name is viperine water snake or viperine snake. Despite its common names, it is not a member of the subfamily Viperinae. This nonvenomous, semiaquatic, fish-eating snake was given its common names due to behavioural and aesthetic similarities with sympatric adder species.


The viperine snake looks like an adder and behaves like one. It is known to strike like an adder, but not bite. However, when in water, the viperine snake then looks like a grass snake and hunts its prey in the same way. This snake is diurnal.[2] Viperine water snakes are not aggressive and rarely bite. They spend most of their time in water hunting fish, frogs and other aquatic animals.
Geographic range

The viperine snake is found in southwestern Europe and northwestern Africa. Specifically, N. maura is found in the European countries of: Portugal, Spain, France, northernwest Italy, and even into Switzerland. It has spread to areas of England, as well. It is found in African countries of Morocco, northern Algeria, northwestern Libya, and northern to central Tunisia.[2]
Side view of a Natrix maura

N. maura is gray, brown, or reddish dorsally, with a black zigzag vertebral stripe, and lateral series of black ocelli with yellow centers. The labials are yellow with black sutures. It has a diagonal dark band on each temple, and another behind it on each side of the neck. Ventrally, it is yellow or red, checkered with black, or all black.

The strongly keeled dorsal scales are arranged in 21 rows. The ventrals are 147–160; the anal plate is divided; and the paired subcaudals number 47–72.

Adults may attain a total length of 85 cm (33 inches), with a tail 17 cm (7 inches) long.[3]

The viperine snake is found in rivers and lakes, and has also been recorded from areas of brackish water.

Invasive on Mallorca.[4]
Ecology of invasion

N. maura predates on Pelophylax perezi among other prey on Mallorca. Research by Moore et al. 2004 suggests trophic subsidy provided by P. perezi is maintaining higher numbers of the invader than would otherwise occur.[4]
Evolutionary effects

N. maura has altered the behavior of Mallorcan prey. Moore et al. 2004 finds that the higher numbers mentioned above are allowing the invader to exert such high pressure that prey species have retreated entirely to habitats too steep for N. maura.[4]
See also

List of reptiles of Italy


Jose Antonio Mateo Miras, Marc Cheylan, M. Saïd Nouira, Ulrich Joger, Paulo Sá-Sousa, Valentin Pérez-Mellado, Benedikt Schmidt, Andreas Meyer, Roberto Sindaco, Antonio Romano, Iñigo Martínez-Solano (2009). "Natrix maura". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2009: e.T61538A12510365. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T61538A12510365.en. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
Boulenger GA. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families ... Colubridæ Aglyphæ, part. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiii + 448 pp. + Plates I-XXVIII. (Tropidonotus viperinus, pp. 235–237).

Kraus, Fred (2015-12-04). "Impacts from Invasive Reptiles and Amphibians". Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. Annual Reviews. 46 (1): 75–97. doi:10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-112414-054450. ISSN 1543-592X.

External links

Further reading

Arnold EN, Burton JA. 1978. A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe. London: Collins. 272 pp. ISBN 0-00-219318-3. (Natrix maura, pp. 202–204 + Plate 37 + Map 115).
Linnaeus C. 1758. Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, diferentiis, locis. Tomus I. Editio Decima, Reformata. Stockholm: L. Salvius. 824 pp. (Coluber maurus, new species, p. 219). (in Latin).


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