Reptiles in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is home to 20 species of amphibian and 42 species of reptiles.

Tortoises in Bulgaria

Wildly spread in the past on Bulgarian territory two tortoise species Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca Linnaeus) and Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni Gmelin) are globally threatened nowadays. According to Bulgarian legislation both species are protected under Biodiversity Conservation Act and the Penal Code of Bulgarian Republic.
Both species wildly occur at sea level up to 1400-1500m altitude but their number decrease drastically even tough being most common reptile species in the past. In 1899 Konstantin Irechek wrote:” Those who come from North will stay astonished by the numerous tortoises with domed plates, black or white-yellowish checked, two spans long, found less frequently northward of the Balkan but common in Thrace.” If nowadays the same route would be traversed there is a slim chance of coming across tortoises. Currently the highest density of tortoises is established on the territory of Eastern Rhodopes Mountain, Sakar Mountain, Derventski Vazvishenija Hills, Stranja Mountain and south Struma Valley as well as the lowlands of the ranging mountains. Their populations are quite fragmented or they have reached the population minimum.

Bulgarian Mountain Herping

During the summer of 2008 my family went on holiday to the Pirin Mountians, Bulgaria. The place we stayed at for two weeks was between the towns of Bansko, Razlog and Banja. Here the three main mountain ranges (Rila, Pirin and Rhodope) in Bulgaria meet.

Bulgaria’s Amphibians and Reptiles

Due to Bulgaria’s geographic location and varied relief, its herpetofauna is among the richest in Europe. At present, 52 species of amphibians and reptiles are found on Bulgarian territory and in adjacent continental waters. Of these, 48 species are permanent residents. Two species of poisonous snakes, Vipera aspis and Vipera ursinii, are considered extinct from the Bulgarian fauna. Specimens of two other species, the sea turtles Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta, have been found on occasion along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. They do not permanently inhabit the Black Sea, but are rare “guests.”

Herpetofauna of Europe : Bulgaria