Croatia – Šolta 2021

Date: 2-8.7.2021

Team: Dino

In 2021, I visited Croatia twice. The first time in April with Repti Planet and the second time when we went there for a family vacation. As a destination, we chose the small island of Šolta, one of the islands of Central Dalmatia, which also includes the more famous Brač. There are several reasons to go on holiday to Solta. If you do not want to spend X hours behind the wheel, you can easily get there by train, which goes directly from Prague to Split, where you change to the ferry. It is located only about 300m from the train station. It was forbidden to build hotels on Šolta, so there are only small apartments. Therefore, there is relatively quiet and plenty of space on the beaches. The third reason why a herpetologist could take his family here is the fact that, according to the available information, no systematic monitoring of reptiles has ever taken place on Šolta and it is therefore quite a mystery and a challenge what you can find here.

The island of Solta is located near Split. Source:
The train journey in the sleeping compartment was pleasant and ran relatively quickly. It took us a while to find the right ferry, but in the end it turned out to be the closest one. There is a bus service on the island, but for convenience we preferred to choose a taxi, which took us to the apartment in the village of Nečujam. Later, however, I used the bus several times during my travels for reptiles. The taxi driver was a nice guy who told me that the most common snake he encounters here was a “belouška”. It was immediately clear to me from the name itself that he definitely ment a grass snake (Natrix natrix). It seemed a bit strange to me, considering that Solta is a relatively dry island without large bodies of water. As I wrote at the beginning, this was primary a family vacation with only occasional trips for reptiles. Even so, I managed to confirm the occurrence of several species on Šolta and add some new. Unfortunately, often from dead individuals. The hot and dry weather also didn’t help much. It rained at night in the middle of the week, but unfortunately it did not have the effect I would expect. At the beginning I was surprised by the relatively low concentration of reptiles, especially elsewhere very abundant lizards of the genus Podarcis, I found here only sporadically. I haven’t even seen geckos in the numbers I’m used to from other places in Croatia. When I counted about 15 free-roaming cats during one night walk in Nečujam, I was no longer so surprised. These non-native, ruthless predators are probably regulating reptile populations here on a large scale.
Map of Solta from the tourist guide. Locations where I searched for reptiles are marked in purple.

There are two species of geckos reported on the island – the Turkish gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) and the Moorish gecko (Tarentola mauritanica). During several night expeditions, I observed only Turkish geckos. However, at night I moved only around Nečujam and Tarentola could be in one of the larger villages. I searched in vain for a cat snake (Telescopus fallax), which occur on the surrounding islands, and I would assume them here as well. After the mentioned rainy night, I also found several individuals of the green toad (Bufotes viridis), which are probably the only amphibian species on Šolta. I visited almost all the water areas visible in the maps, but I did not observe any Pelophylax sp.

Turkish gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus), screenshot from infrared camera
Metamorphic green toads (Bufotes viridis) in a concrete tank

Of the small lizards, I met only Dalmatian wall lizards (Podarcis melisellensis) all over the island, rather sporadically and in a total of about 20 individuals. According to the findings on, there is also a Blue-throated keeled lizard (Algyroides nigripunctatus) on the island, but I was not lucky enouhg to find it. On the southeast side of the island, I searched around large rock formations for the endemic Dalmatian rock lizard (Dalmatolacerta oxycephala), which is expected to occur here, given that it is quite common locally on the surrounding islands and on the mainland. Unfortunately, I was unlucky or I was not at the right place. The Italian wall lizard (Podarcis siculus) is either not present on the island or occurs only in some of the areas I have not visited.

Balkan wall lizard (Podarcis melisellensis)
Balkan wall lizard (Podarcis melisellensis)
There are many abandoned old buildings on Šolta, which now serve as shelters for lizards and snakes
Rock formations where I searched in vain for Dalmatian lizards

I learned from the locals that glass lizards are quite common in Šolta. I was also lucky enough to find one living individual and several dead.

A glass lizard, which I found near Grohote
Dead glass lizard

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a live snake. This is probably due to unsuitable weather and dense vegetation, which is harder to search through. Around the village of Grohote, I counted a total of 5 dead grass snakes (Natrix natrix). Later in the village of Gornje Selo an adult montpellier snake (Malpolon insignitus), which ate a rodent just before death.

Dead grass snake (Natrix natrix)
Dead montpellier snake (Malpolon insignitus)

Since I visited most of the water ponds, I would say that there is no pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) on the island. In the same way, I did not find any tortoises (Testudo hermanni). Even the locals did not confirm their occurrence to me. So they are present on the island either rarely or not at all. But Solta is not completely without turtles. In one of the lakes, I observed several individuals of non-native sliders (Trachemys scripta), represented in both the nominal subspecies scripta and the subspecies elegans with a red neck stripe.

Pond with turtles. In the background, there is the town of Grohote.
Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)

I would definitely like to return to Šolta, next time perhaps in the spring months and search through most of the island. And if you ever go to Šolta in the future, please share your findings with me!


On the southeast side of Solta, there are beautiful bays

Species table:

Scientific name Former findings Found in 2021 Number of individuals Location
Bufotes viridis, iNaturalist Yes 5 adults, 20x metamorphs  Nečujam; Zátoka Jorja; Grohote; Gornje Selo
Pseudopus apodus iNaturalist Yes 1 live, 2 dead Nečujam; Grohote
Algyroides nigripunctatus
Podarcis melisellensis iNaturalist, Yes Cca 20 Nečujam, Gornje Selo, Grohote
Hemidactylus turcicus iNaturalist Yes Cca 20 Nečujam
Trachemys scripta Yes Grohote
Malpolon insignitus Yes 1 dead Gornje Selo
Natrix natrix Yes 5 dead Grohote