The patterned snake may seem dangerous and threatening, but this reptile does not pose any threat and is completely harmless to humans, because devoid of poisonous weapons. Let's study in more detail the life activity of this snake person, having characterized the places of permanent registration, external data, disposition and habits.
Origin of the species and description
The patterned snake belongs to the non-venomous snakes of the snake family, originating from the genus of climbing snakes. This genus of snakes has been known since the Middle Miocene of North America and the Upper Miocene of eastern Europe. The main difference between climbing snakes and slender (real) snakes is the structure of the teeth. On the upper jaw, all teeth are the same and arranged in an even continuous row, numbering from 12 to 22 pieces. But the most anterior teeth, located on the lower jaw, are much larger than the rest, so you can’t call them an even row.
Video: Patterned snake
Climbing snakes are also characterized by the presence of paired undertail shields, pupils of a rounded shape and smooth or slightly ribbed scales. The snake head stands out well from the entire body with the help of a cervical interception. The nostrils are located between the two nasal shields. Reptiles are characterized by a division of the anal shield.
The patterned snake, as a species, was first identified and described by the German naturalist Peter Pallas, this happened in 1773, when an expedition to Siberia was equipped. In Latin, he named this reptile “Elaphe dione” in honor of the ancient Greek goddess Dione, revered as the wife of Zeus and the mother of Aphrodite with Dionysus. The dimensions of this variety of snakes can be up to one and a half meters long, but such specimens are not common, the average length of these snakes varies within a meter. It is worth noting that males are much smaller than female snakes.
Appearance and Features
It is not for nothing that this snake is called patterned, it is easily recognizable by the special ornament that adorns the reptile's head. An arcuate dark stripe runs across the head, connecting the eyes, like a bridge of glasses. In the occipital region, two large longitudinal spots with uneven edges stand out in contrast, the anterior of which are interconnected. A temporal strip of the same dark shade stretched from the eyes to the neck area.
The most common color of patterned snakes is grayish-brown with some brownish bloom. The ridge is lined with two pairs of dark longitudinal stripes; some snakes have almost black spots instead of stripes. The belly of the snake has a grayish or yellowish tone with dark or red speckles. The lateral scales of the snake are smooth and shiny, and in the back area they are slightly ribbed and equipped with pores at the very tips. In general, in nature there are completely different colors of patterned snakes, it depends on their location. After the molting process, they become more inconspicuous, but over time their brightness is restored.
Interesting fact: Under natural conditions, there are patterned snakes of orange, black, red, bluish, greenish hues. Among these snakes there are both melanists and albinos.
If we figured out the size of the snake itself, then it is worth noting the length of its tail, which varies from 17 to 30 cm. Although the females of this species of reptiles are larger than their cavaliers, their tail is shorter than the male and not so thick at the very base. Another difference between the sexes is the presence of scutes, which are larger in males than in females.
Where does the patterned snake live?
The distribution range of the patterned snake is quite extensive; this reptile has spread widely and has perfectly adapted in various regions. The habitats of the snake person extend from the territories of Ukraine to the Far Eastern borders through Central Asia (the spaces of Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan) and the Kazakh steppes. The snake lives in Korea, Eastern Transcaucasia, Mongolia, Iran and China.
On the territory of our country, it has spread throughout:
- Volga region;
- Southern Siberia;
- Far East.
Perhaps the snakes settled so extensively due to the fact that they can easily adapt to different climatic zones and landscapes. Reptiles take a fancy to river floodplains, forests, semi-desert and desert areas, steppe expanses, reed beds, alpine meadows, wetlands, mountain slopes, rising to a height of up to three and a half kilometers. These snakes are not very afraid of people, therefore they are often found near human dwellings, catch the eye in gardens and vineyards, cultivated fields.
The patterned snake takes root perfectly, both in mixed and coniferous forest thickets. He is not alien to both humid regions and arid deserts. Snakes settle in the territories of salt marshes, dunes, rice fields, takyrs, and juniper woodlands. For its lair, the snake chooses inter-root spaces of trees, various cracks in the soil, hollows.
What does the patterned snake eat?
Menu snakes can be called diverse, it consists of:
- ground squirrels;
- feathered birds.
The patterned snake is perfectly oriented and climbs in the branches of trees, therefore it often sins by ruining bird nests, eating their eggs in an unusual way. He swallows them whole, without breaking the shell with his jaws, in the region of the esophagus it is broken by special processes of the cervical vertebrae. He likes to eat snake and other reptiles: lizards and medium-sized snakes, even poisonous ones. The creeping one will not refuse a snack with a toad, a frog, all kinds of insects, medium-sized fish.
An interesting fact: Patterned snakes are convicted of cannibalism, so they can devour their closest fellow without remorse of a snake's conscience. stalking the victim. The snakes will never eat prey that still shows signs of life. First, they kill her, using suffocating techniques, like boas, and only then they start eating, swallowing the lifeless body of the victim, which they moisten with their saliva. The absorption process always starts from the head.
The snakes that live in captivity are also treated with all kinds of small rodents, songbirds, lizards, bird eggs. Terrariumists often prepare food in advance by freezing it. Before the snake meal, he undergoes a defrosting procedure. The process of feeding mature snakes takes place once per week. In general, patterned snakes can go without food for more than one month, which does not harm the health of reptiles.
Now you know how to keep a patterned snake at home. Let's see how he lives in the wild.
Character and lifestyle features
The patterned snake is active during the day, and at night and in strong heat it prefers to be in its reliable shelter, which are burrows, shrubbery, hollows. Most often, in the spring, you can see several snake individuals nearby at once, but they do not form numerous clusters, like snakes.
The snake is endowed with excellent eyesight and sense of smell, can deftly climb the branches of trees, and is not at all afraid of water. The reptile also swims excellently, so it often dives into both freshwater and sea waters. The patterned snake can dive perfectly; in our country, it often spends time in the coastal river zone in the company of a water snake. The snakes go to the winter hut in September-November, and wake up from suspended animation in March or April. These are inaccurate dates, it all depends on the specific region of the creeper's deployment. In the southern regions and countries with a warm climate, hibernation ends with the advent of February.
For humans, the snake does not pose any danger, because it does not possess poisonousness. He has a very peaceful and friendly disposition. Seeing people nearby, the snake lady herself tries to hide for her own safety. The keepers of the terrariums assure that the nature of the patterned snakes is very balanced, these reptiles do not differ in particular aggressiveness. On the contrary, they are very calm and unpretentious, therefore it is not so difficult to keep them. A pair of mature patterned snakes get along well in a small terrarium, feeling great. Snakes get used to humans quite easily and quickly.
Social structure and reproduction
The wedding season for snakes falls on April-May, but in some areas, where the climate is cooler, it can last all of June. During this turbulent time for snakes, whole clusters of patterned reptiles can be found. These creepers are oviparous, so the female carefully approaches the process of arranging her nest, which can be located:
- in decaying foliage near some reservoir;
- rotten rotten stumps;
- forest soil;
- earth voids;
- under boulders.
The clutch may consist of 5 to 24 eggs, all of which may differ slightly from each other in length (from 16 to 17.6 mm). There are cases when several females laid eggs in one nest at once, the size of such collective clutches reached 120 eggs, but most often only half of the kites remain capable of life.
Interesting fact: The incubation period is short (about a month, and sometimes two weeks), because. the laid eggs already contain fairly developed embryos. Patterned snake embryos already begin their development when they are in the mother's oviducts.
Herpetologists have noticed that female patterned snakes are very caring mothers, even during incubation they tirelessly protect their masonry, wrapping around it with their snake body, so that the eggs do not fall into the clutches of all kinds of predators and other ill-wishers. Baby snakes in different regions hatch between July and September.
Their length varies from 18 to 25 cm, and the weight ranges from 3 to 9 g. The young growth looks very similar to its parents, it grows up quickly and acquires not only independence, but also life experience. And the life expectancy of snakes in their natural habitat is about 9 years, although in captivity they can live up to 11.
Natural enemies of patterned snakes
In the wild, the patterned snake has a hard time, because it is not poisonous and does not have very large dimensions, so it has plenty of enemies. Danger awaits snakes, both on the ground and in the air. Do not mind eating this creeping all kinds of predatory animals (martens, foxes, badgers). Feathered predators conduct aerial attacks on patterned snakes (eagles, kites). First of all, inexperienced young animals, which are the most vulnerable, suffer. Let's not forget about the cannibalism that flourishes among patterned reptiles, so snakes themselves can become enemies of their own brethren.
The patterned snake has an interesting defense tactic. In emergency and dangerous situations, he is likened to a rattlesnake and begins to vibrate the tip of his snake tail, while he manages to make a series of intermittent sounds that slightly resemble the sounds of a rattler's rattle. Of course, this is not so loud and threatening, because the snake does not have any rattle at the end of the tail, but often this technique is successful, scaring away the stunned enemy.
Humans can also be counted among the enemies of the snake. Sometimes people kill these reptiles, mistaking them for dangerous and poisonous. Relentless human activity leads to the fact that people occupy more and more spaces for their own life, not thinking that they are invading foreign territories, where patterned snakes live, which have to crowd and suffer from barbaric human interventions. Often snake snakes are saved by their dexterity, swiftness in movements, ability to swim excellently and perfectly move along the branches of trees, where they can climb from large predators.
Population and species status
As already noted, the range of settlement of patterned snakes is very extensive, but it cannot be argued that the number of these snakes is large, their density in different regions is, most often, small. Of course, in some places they feel at ease. For example, on the territory of the Volgograd region, patterned snakes can be found almost everywhere, most of all they have chosen its eastern and southern parts. Unfortunately, such a favorable environment for snakes is not everywhere, in many regions they are extremely small in number and begin to disappear from inhabited places where they previously existed in sufficient numbers.
This situation is formed, first of all, due to human intervention in the natural snake environment. There are very few untouched territories left where the snakes feel safe. People are pushing them out of their permanent places of registration, building cities, cultivating fields, draining wetlands, laying highways, destroying forests, worsening the ecological situation in general.
So, we can say with confidence that the status of the population of patterned snakes in many regions causes concern of environmental organizations, the number of snakes is steadily declining, and in some places it may completely disappear, the notorious human factor is to blame for everything, therefore the snakes need special protection measures.
Patterned snake protection
From the above, it becomes clear that the situation with the population size of the patterned snake is not at all favorable, and even deplorable. In many places where there used to be a lot of these snakes, they have become extremely rare, their number is declining all the time, which cannot but worry. In some areas, a sharp decrease in the number of snakes has led to the fact that snakes have practically disappeared, therefore, in some regions on the territory of the Russian Federation, these creeping ones are listed in the Red Books.
The patterned snake is listed in the Red Books of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and the Republic of Khakassia. Here it is assigned to the fourth category and has the status of a species whose specific abundance has not been clarified, but is constantly decreasing. The patterned snake is also in the Red Books of the Ulyanovsk, Samara and Orenburg regions. The snake is included in the third category and has the status of a very rare species with an unknown abundance. On the territory of the Chechen Republic, the patterned snake has also been included in the Red Book since 2007 as a rare species, distributed in small places, vulnerable to the republic.
The main limiting factors in many areas remain unknown, but it is clear that the anthropogenic impact has a negative impact on the size of the snake population. Intervention in indigenous biotopes, plowing of land, arranging pastures in snake habitats, building new transport hubs, annual spring fires negatively affect the number of reptiles, leading the population of patterned snakes to the threat of extinction.
To avoid it, it is necessary to apply the following protective measures:
- finding areas with a high density of snakes and recognizing them as protected areas;
- promoting humane treatment of reptiles;
- explanatory measures aimed at the elimination of burnings;
- criminal and administrative liability for burning dead wood;
- creation of protected reserves;
- strict ban on catching snakes.
Summing up, it remains to add that the patterned snake is not as scary as it seems at first glance. Many of them, including the patterned snake, have no poisonous toxin at all and are themselves afraid of bipeds that can harm them. People do not need to be so belligerent towards reptiles, because they bring invaluable benefits by eating a large number of all kinds of rodents. A good-natured human attitude, a caring and careful attitude towards creepers will lead to the fact that their former numbers will be restored, defeating all threats of extinction.