Fauna of Crete

Reptiles

The secluded island of Crete hosts several species of reptiles, such as turtles, snakes and lizards, with none of them being hazardous for human. The largest reptile is the endangered loggerhead turtle, which nests on the sandy beaches of the island. Apart from the turtles, Crete also hosts several lizards, with one species (namely the Cretan wall lizard) being indigenous only to Crete.

Sea turtles
Crete is one of the most important places for the reproduction of the threatened loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), which is very famous throughout Greece. However, there are more sea turtle species found in the seas of Crete, which do not nest on the island. These are the green turtle, the leatherback turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle. All sea turtles have lungs, but can hold their breath for a long period under water.
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Terrestrial turtles
Crete has a few species of terrestrial turtles, mainly because the climate is warm and dry. However, in the limited wetlands of the island, it is sure that someone is going to meet many of them. The only endemic species is the Balcan terrapin, while there are also the introduced Greek tortoise and the marginated tortoise.
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Snakes
In Crete, snakes appear to have played an important ritual role in the Minoan period. Indeed, one of the most famous archaeological findings listed in Heraklion Museum is the statuette of the goddess of fertility, known as the Goddess of Snakes, who holds two snakes with both of her hands. Snakes were also used for treating diseases, from where the...
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Lizards
The leopard snake (scient. Elaphe situla or Zamenis situla) is the most beautiful species of snake in Greece, with characteristic orange-red markings on its back. In Crete it is called ochentri, which means viper, which is incorrect as the snake is completely harmless. This false impression has been caused by a V sign on its head, which is similar to that of vipers. The greek name is spitofido, i.e. house snake, originates from Cyclades Islands, where people deliberately brought leopard...
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