Ladders have been involved in the painting of the house and first floor terrace outside. Only the ‘tower’ is left to do. A different kind of ladder showed in the markings of this more than a meter long snake, which Sofie found in the grass at the side of the house. She was not amused, the snake. She hissed loudly and lifted her body to strike, an amazing and frightening site for people coming from the island of Ireland, where St. Patrick drove all snakes out (he should have brought the slugs along with him).
We weren’t sure what kind of snake this was, as there are 13 species of snakes resident in Spain, of which 5 are venomous. Ours apparently is the harmless Ladder snake, Culebra de escalera, Rhinechis scalaris or Elaphe scalaris. These are the poisonous snakes of Spain: Baskian viper, also Iberian cross adder or Portuguese viper (Vipera seoanei); Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus Culebra bastarda); Asp viper or European asp (Vipera aspis); Lataste’s viper or snub-nosed viper, snub-nosed adder (Vipera latastei); False Smooth Snake (Macroprotodon brevis).
Deaths from snake bite in the whole of Europe are estimated at about 50 persons per year and only 3 to 6 in Spain. Of these 1 to 3 occur in Catalonia, it being the highest risk area. These facts give the odds of being a victim of death by snake bite in any part of Spain at more than 13.3 million to 1 or put another way the same odds as winning the UK national lottery. Death by bee or wasp sting is more likely, although still very rare according to practicalspain.com. But just in case:
Medical treatment: If you are bitten by any venomous snake, remain calm and seek medical attention immediately. Make an emergency call on your mobile, phone 112 and try to keep the bite area well below the position of the heart (info from http://www.ruralspain.info/nonvensnakes.htm and http://www.practicalspain.com/spanish-reptiles.htm).
So she slithered away into a cavity in the base of the olive tree. We have since spotted a few more. Not to worry, these attractive looking harmless ladder snakes are not venomous and quite common. I think it’s the horses that have upset their territory. Because the six mares with their foals caper around and the snakes are in danger of being stepped on which they don’t like. So they go and find a refuge which happens to be the surrounds of the house, which are fenced off. Once the horses return to the other side of our finca or to their own finca, they can live in peace again. The Culebra de Escalera, Rhinechis scalaris is listed in the IUCN Red list of threatened species as of least concern and some country people apparently use its fat to apply in wounds of goats and sheep, but currently this utilization is quite marginal.
View from the top floor:
In the meantime painting is ongoing and the carpenters have finally fitted the upstairs doors which means we can soon ‘open the doors’ to welcome guests, open the door for business and share our country-living, home-grown potatoes, vegetables and hopefully soon complete with fresh eggs.