AppearanceIt is up to 2.00 metres (7 ft) long and may weigh up to 1.5 kilograms (3 lb).
DistributionIt is very common throughout the Mediterranean basin. The snake's specific name, monspessulanus, is a Latinized form of Montpellier, a city in southern France.
BehaviorIt is active during the day and mainly feeds on lizards.
FoodIt is active during the day and mainly feeds on lizards.
EvolutionGenetic evidence suggests that the species originated in the Maghreb, migrating into southwestern Europe between 83,000 and 168,000 years ago and into southeastern Europe and western Asia at an earlier time. It is most closely related to the North African and Arabian species Malpolon moilensis and to a fossil species from the Pliocene of Spain, Malpolon mlynarskii, with which it forms the genus Malpolon. Malpolon has a good fossil record, dating back to the Pliocene in both southwestern Europe and northern Africa, but many of the fossils are isolated vertebrae, which are difficult to assign to species.
UsesThe animal is not threatened by its interactions with humans and is assessed as "Least Concern", but it is often killed by cars and farmers, and is sometimes used by snake charmers and sold as curio. Even in areas affected by humans, the population is stable and in some areas growing. It is found in a number of protected areas.
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