The snakes of Andros
Are there any good snakes? Which ones are poisonous? Why is it not right to kill a snake? Fotis Tsertos answers these questions and many more with these two informative ‘documentaries’ that aim to inform us about the ‘fearsome’ class of reptiles. Snakes are not enemies, they are a link in a chain that we must respect because we share the same home: planet earth!
Text, video: Fotis Tsertos
Translation to English: Violandi Vratsanou
“In 1983 I visited the island of Andros for the first time at the age of 5. My father, although he was from Messinia, fell in love with the island and with my mother! This meant that every Easter, summer and Christmas, we went to the island. Especially, during summer when my parents were working, my sister and I used to spend 2.5 whole months on the island with my grandparents!
The village in the north of the island, being mountainous, did not have a beach nearby. Grandpa didn’t drive so we waited for my parents’ permission to go swimming. In the village the few houses were scattered around.The electricity network had slowly started to connect the remote villages. There was no telephone at home and when you wanted to call a taxi to come you had to walk 2 km to a friendly house that had an old telephone with plugs! So you can imagine that due to circumstances, communication with the port of Gavrio was not easy. But this isolation had its charm!!!
Because of the aforementioned circumstances, the grandparents, who were responsible for our care during the summer months, were afraid and they repeated to us every time: “Don’t go away from the house when you are playing! Stay away from the walls and fields or you might get bitten by a snake!” Also, during visits of neighbours or relatives from other villages, the discussions about daily life included reports of snakes that were dangerous and had to be killed.
Names of snakes such as Sapitis, Astritis, Viper remained in my kid’s mind creating fear and awe in case I come across them. Snakes of course like Dendrogallia were held in higher esteem because they cleaned the fields and storehouses from rodents! Over the years, however, and through my personal information, it turned out that both ignorance and instinctive fear every time we encounter a snake are the main factors of our wrong behavior towards these misunderstood reptiles!
Andros has a rich reptile fauna due to its special climate. It is a fact that compared to the other islands of the Cyclades, it has more lush greenery. This plays its role in creating special biotopes that host a wide variety of reptiles. The purpose of the two amateur documentaries below is to present the most famous snakes of the island, to inform the locals and those who move along the large hiking network of Andros, which includes more than 200km of traditional paths, about the importance of snakes in the biodiversity of the island!”