Wild Life in Northern Cyprus

North Cyprus is still relatively undeveloped so wildlife has flourished, with some 250 species of birds visiting the island every year on their journey from East to West.

There is also an abundance of lizards, wild donkeys and butterflies, including 19 endemic species, including the strangely-shaped festoon and colourful Cleopatra butterflies. They are all part of a rich natural heritage on an island of contrasts that spans from the top of Mount Selvili's 3000 feet to the gentle slopes of the coastal waters, where the famous loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.

Wild donkeys, North CyprusThe warm climate in North Cyprus also means that visitors can enjoy beautiful flowers all year-round, making it a veritable botanic haven. In the autumn and winter golden-yellow oleanders swathe the hills, whilst multi-coloured anemones and crocuses appear before Christmas. But it is in late winter and spring that the island blooms into a rhapsody of colour with the orchid family and cherry-red poppies taking centre stage. Many visitors come to Cyprus purely for the wildlife.


Blunt nosed viper The blunt-nosed viper (Vipera Lebetina) is a dangerous highly poisonous viper.It is a fat snake, varying in colour with a yellow and horn-like tail-end.It inhabits steppelike terrain with boulders and bushes and hillsides beside streams. It attacks only in defence. If it is disturbed, it hisses loudly and may attack very rapidly. It is particularly dangerous because when it bites, its teeth remain embedded in the tissue and the movements of the jaw pump large amounts of poison into the wound.

The cat snake (Telescopus fallax) can grow up to one metre in lenght. Generally nocturnal, active at dust and nighttime, lives in marshy areas beside streams and shelters in burrows and under stoves during the day. It is yellow-brown speckled with black and is a fast mover catching lizards from their hiding places.

The Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessu lanus) is a poisonous snake. Its venom is not normally fatal to man, but can cause painful local swelling and a headache. It can grow to two metres and lives in terrain with short grass and undergrowth and feeds on mainly lizards.

The non-poisonous varieties are the Ravergier`s whipe snake or the coin snake, the Persian or large whip-snake and the rare Cyprus whip-snake.

The Ravergier`s whip snake or the coin snake is a pale brown snake with dark brown diamond-shaped markings along its back.

Whip-Snake The Large whip-snake (Coluber jugularis) can be up to 3 m long when fully grown.It is the longest snake of Europe. It is yellow-brown in colour for the first three years of its life and then turns black. In defence, it coils itself into a spiral and attacks, hissing loudly.

The Cyprus whip-snake is deep green in colour, lives in dry, stony terrain with bushes, preferring to stay near a stream.