Snakes of Bulgaria

See also reptiles of Bulgaria

Our Bulgarian World – Snakes

Snakes in Bulgaria is something that visitors should know about when coming here.  There are only two known poisonous snakes currently resident in Bulgaria.

You should also be aware that there have been no fatalities related to snake bites reported in recent years. There was a third species, the Vipera Ursinii or the Meadow Viper but this is now believed to be extinct in Bulgaria.

Venemous snakes in Bulgaria

Vipera ammodytes

Widely distributed throughout Bulgaria. During the last 3 years, it has become an object of increased attention by snake catchers, who sell the specimens to snake farms for the extraction of poison for export. Hunting has seriously injured the populations in its richest habitats – namely, the southeastern quarter of the country, as well as the Petrich and Sandanski region, northwest Bulgaria (Belogradchik), the Iskar gorge north of Sofia, and the southern slopes of Sredna Gora in Stara Zagora. Poaching or capture has taken place not only during the hot months, but through the autumn, winter, and early spring. Poachers have dug up their winter refuges, converting them into essentially open traps, useless as hibernating grounds in subsequent years. In March 1991, the MOE issued an order banning the capture of this species through excavation of its winter habitats, as well as trade and exchange, in the period between 30 September and 30 April. An annual quota of 2,000- 3,000 individuals was also instituted. The establishment of new snake farms can be undertaken only after approval of the conditions for their breeding by the regional inspectors for environmental protection.

Export of Vipera ammodytes is permitted with an agreement from the MOE. At present there are 40 regulated snake farms, along with 20-25 unregulated ones. Fortunately, this business has not produced the expected income, and many practitioners have gone bankrupt. During the next 3-4 years, capture of this species is expected to decline. It is anticipated that this will allow the populations to reestablish themselves in the most heavily exploited areas. Concurrently, in areas where the snakes are less numerous and where capture has not taken place, the snakes have maintained their numbers. As a result of human activities, especially on the lower mountain slopes, new areas conducive to Vipera ammodytes are being created through the clearing of ancient forests, erosion of the terrain, degradation of pastures, and so forth.