Peloponnese 26th of April – 7th of May 2006

(Text: Thomas Bader, Fotos: Christoph Riegler)


Team: T. Bader, J. Hill, W. Mayer, F. Rathbauer, C. Riegler, W. Simlinger


Part 1: Argolis Peninsula



While Werner and Hannes drove by car through Italy and came across by ferry to Igoumenitsa, the rest of the crew flew via Milan to Athens. We hired a car and visited the famous Akropolis during the first day of the trip. We then drove past the channel of Korinthos to the Peloponnese peninsula. We decided to meet on the south part of Argolis peninsula in the city of Galatas – vis-à-vis of Poros Island.


Peloponnes Galatas Poros - Foto (c) Christoph Riegler

View from Galata to the Island of Poros and the small port in the sunset


Unfortunately, we had quite bad weather the first few days we were there. Even though we could only search for a few hours we found a high number of species, although only one lizard is normally present in this area – the Lacerta trilineata.  Young trilis are highly variable: While some show the typical pattern of having three stripes, others have a back that is uniformly brownish in colour – even juveniles from the same clutch have these differences!  Because of the rainy weather, luckily we found some adult green lizards under stones.

The most common snake in this area is Platyceps najadum which was found on nearly every site in high numbers.  The slender quick snake is usually hard to catch but during these weather conditions it was quite easy, although most recorded whip snakes were juveniles from the last year.

The Argolis peninsula is the home of Chalcides ocellatus which we found here exclusively. The skink was common everywhere, also during bad weather conditions, when we found it under stones. They grow to be more than 25 cm and can reach really enormous sizes.


Chalcides ocellatus (c) Christoph Riegler
Ocellated Skink - Chalcides ocellatus

Another very common skink in this area is Ablepharus kitaibelii, the snake eyed skink. Especially during moist conditions the skink was very abundant everywhere in grassland areas. When the sun came out, the animals disappeared quickly into the soil, under stones or somewhere in the shelter of olive trees. One of the most common snakes here was Typhlops vermicularis which we found under stones as we had expected to find.  Some worm snakes were in copula and in one case we found four animals under one stone.


Unlike our last journeys, Mediodactylus kotschyi was the most common gecko species on the Peloponnese. We found it in nearly every area we visited, mostly outside of human settlements.


Now we come to the less common species on the Argolis peninsula: the beautiful grass-green Pelophylax ridibundus, which we found in a stream together with a single Mauremys rivualata. We recorded only a few Hierophis gemonensis and Malpolon monspessulanus and only one big Elaphe quatuorlineata (unfortunately found dead on the road).  The Vipera ammodytes was present and Franz was bitten by a juvenile specimen. The snake bit Franz in his right thumb which swelled within twenty minutes to double its size. After two hours his forearm was swollen and the next day his entire arm was seriously swollen and turned blue. About three days later we decided to go to the hospital and after some injections the situation turned for the better.  Slowly the swelling became better and after about seven days the arm reduced back to its normal size.


Vipera Ammodytes Biss (c) Christoph Riegler

Chronological sequence of the Vipera ammodytes bite


Last but not least we’ll mention the occurrence of Testudo marginata. These are huge tortoises with the typical flattened carapax. Many T. marginata were inflicted by tics sucking on the neck of the tortoises.

On the second day we visited Methana peninsula, formed by a volcano and connected to Peloponnese only by a narrow land bridge. Near the city of Methana the typical hydrogen sulphide smell is recognisable. It can be described as the smell of a huge fart from a dinosaur! In the strange mixture of volcanic and sedimentary rock we found P. najadum, M. kotschyi, A. kitaibelii, T. vermicularis and L. trilineata, but we could only search on one location because it started to rain again.

In the evening we took the 2 min ferry to Poros and ate an excellent dinner.  When we came back a fisherman showed us a moon fish that was caught which is rather rare in the Mediterranean Sea.

On the third day we started our trip to the Mani peninsula and drove back further north on the Argolis. We found some tadpoles from the common toad, Bufo bufo, L. trilineata and a huge V. ammodytes hiding in a bush. On a plateau near Trachia we first found Podarcis peloponnesiaca and Algyroides moreoticus, two endemic lizards of southern Greece.



Part 2: Short stops in the area of Megalopoli