Cyprus Mail

Snake George may have discovered rare species

The black-headed dwarf snake had never been seen in Cyprus before

By Bejay Browne

A snake and reptile expert believes he has found a rare non-venomous snake in Paphos which has never before been seen in Cyprus.

Hans-Jorg Wiedl, aka Snake George, is known for rediscovering the Cyprus grass snake, which was believed to have been extinct for the last 40 years. He also proved that the blunt nosed viper lays eggs and doesn’t give birth to live young as had previously been thought.

He now believes he has uncovered a species of snake, which has not been seen before on the island, although it is native to the Middle East.

He told the Cyprus Mail: “I have discovered a tiny snake which I believe to be a black-headed dwarf snake. This type is most commonly found in areas from Syria to Israel, and a sub species has been seen in Turkey.”

The expert says he doesn’t want to announce exactly where the snake was found, as he is currently carrying out further research in the area.

Snake George, who has written a book about the snakes of Cyprus, was contacted by a British resident in the Paphos district, after he had examined the book and hadn’t been able to identify the creature.

“I often get calls to remove snakes from people’s properties, so I wasn’t expecting this to be anything special but it certainly was,” he said.

Once he examined the tiny creature, he says his memory was jolted into remembering something he saw decades ago.

“Many years ago in the 1970s I had visited a museum in Syria and I remembered that I had seen something similar in a preserved state. I couldn’t be sure, but I believed it to be the same snake.”

The reptile expert say that the female snake is tiny, measuring about 11 cms. He said she would grow to no more than 30cms.He added that was impossible that the creature was transported to Cyprus in someone’s luggage or by other means as she is so young.

“This resident only has one neighbour, the surrounding area is in a natural state, and neither of these people has travelled recently. So they couldn’t even bring her in to Cyprus accidently in their luggage.”

He noted that the surrounding terrain was a perfect habitat for the snake and he hoped to find more. “There must be others in the same area and I need some luck to find them. This is so fantastic and she is beautiful,” he enthused.

He said the creatures were very hard to find as they were so small, and mostly lived either under rocks or in cracks found on rocks.

Snake George is caring for the snake while studying it further and is feeding is with ants, baby termites, grasshoppers, spiders and praying mantis.

“These snakes are so small that this type of insect is what they typically eat.”

In the meantime, the well known environmentalist says he has still hit a brick wall with plans to re-open a reptile park in Paphos and says opening a museum is not possible either without considerable investment from supporters.

“The government has shown no interest in helping me with any of the projects which I have put forward; I find this very sad and disheartening,” he said.

Snake George said closing the initial snake and reptile park had been a very difficult and emotional experience. The park in Ayios Georgios in Paphos opened in 1996.
Snake George 99 987685

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