Return to the wild – reintroduction of more than 200 Hungarian meadow vipers


Over the summer, more than 200 Hungarian meadow vipers were released into five habitats in two national parks. The Hungarian Meadow Viper Centre is a key part of the conservation programme, as those snakes that are born and raised in the Centre play a key role in boosting and strengthening the natural populations after reintroduction, preserving genetic diversity, and guaranteeing long-term survival of this unique snake.

As a result of the work carried out for many years, a total of 201 Hungarian meadow vipers could be released in natural habitats this year. The 95 males and 106 females released during July and August were able to start the wild side of their life in a total of five habitats of the Fertő-Hanság and Kiskunság National Parks.

A total of 52 snakes (27 females and 25 males) were released at two sites in Hanság. Three of them were equipped with radio telemetry transmitters in order to monitor their activity week by week after release. The released animals were over 4 years old, including 5 gravid females, who gave birth to their offspring a few weeks after release, additionally increasing the number of released snakes by at least 50 juveniles.

Three habitats in Kiskunság were enriched with a total of 149 Hungarian meadow vipers (79 females and 70 males), 3 of them equipped with radio transmitter. In these areas, most of the released snakes were at least 4 years old, but younger snakes — 1, 2 and 3 years old, as well as some newborn juveniles — were also released. As 8 of the reintroduced females were in the last phase of gravidity, we estimate the appearance of at least another 80 juvenile vipers on these areas within the following weeks.

Similarly to last year’s practice, protective nets have been installed over the artificial burrows, serving as medium for the release, protecting the surrounding area of the burrows from natural predators. We also installed camera traps to observe what happens after the release.

In the nearly 20 years since the start of the conservation breeding program, a total of 907 Hungarian meadow vipers were introduced to the wild in 11 natural habitats, 4 in the protected grasslands of Hanság and 7 in Kiskunság regions.