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Herp report from Krk Island2014-05-07

Some of our readers are certainly not interested only in Boa constrictors, but also in other reptiles. Those who have passion for other herps as well may find out latest field report interesting.

We spent the first days of May on Krk Island, Croatia, where dedicated plenty of time to discover the local herp fauna. Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favour, out of 4 days spent on Krk, only one was sunny, rest of them were cloudy, cool or even even worse: cool and windy. Despite the bad weather, we could manage to photograph some local reptiles, though.

1. Balkan whip snake  (Hierophis gamonensis)

We found two specimens from this species during our 4 days long stay. Balkan whip snakes are relatively common on the island.
We discovered the first specimen in dense underwood with rocks in a sunny daylight. As it was the first to notice my presence, all I saw was its disappearing brownish tail in the underwood. It was escaping with a remarkable speed, I had to literally run few meters to be able to catch it. Of course, it was not as happy to encounter as I was, therefore tried to bite me and the tong several times. After that, it could stay still for a few shots taken.
Interestingly, this speciment had some sperm-like material (that I am familiar with from boas) on its back, so its quite possible that specimen had been copulating to another just before we came across. Spring time would also suggest that. After I could take these pictures, it vanished in the woods for good.

Adult Balkan whip snake (Hierophis gamonensis)

Adult Balkan whip snake (Hierophis gamonensis)

Another specimen was found near a big pile of stones during a cooler, cloudy afternoon. Again, I could only see only a tail almost disappearing under the stones. Luckily, I could grab it by using a tong just in time. As it could easily escape between the stones, I had to take it to a flat place, where I could take photos. After taking some decent shots, I took it back just where I had found and released there.

Adult Balkan whip snake (Hierophis gamonensis)

Balkan whip snake portrait (Hierophis gamonensis)

Balkan whip snake (Hierophis gamonensis) in its habitat


2. Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni)

One of our most interesting findings was a Dalmatian Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni ssp. hercegovinensis). This species had reportedly become very rare on the island due to smuggling tourtists and aging population. This one was crusing along a trail surrounded by underwoods in a beautiful sunny morning.

Hermann's tortoise photographed in habitat (Testudo hermanni ssp. hercegovinensis)

Adult speciemen of Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni ssp. hercegovinensis)

Adult Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni ssp. hercegovinensis)

3. Aesculapian snake (Zamennis longissiumus)

Unfortunately, we could only find road-killed specimen of this species. It could had been hit by car of motorbike, or even trampled to death by cattles we saw nearby. It must had died only a few hours before we found it, because rigor mortis was present only in the anterior 15 cm of body. It was an interesting finding however, as Aesculapian snake shares its habitat and natural resources with a bigger species, the four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata), which is far more frequently seen on Krk Island.

Road-killed Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus)

Road-killed Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus)

4. Balkan green lizard (Lacerta trilineata)

We were fortunate enough to see a courting couple of this species alond a row of stones on a cloudy day. First, after noticing our presence they both escaped, but later both returned and the male continued his "neck-biting" ritual.

Balkan green lizard (Lacerta trilineata)

Courtship of Balkan green lizard (Lacerta trilineata)

5. Slow worm (Anguis fragilis)

This baby limbeless lizard species was found on a rainy day after turning a rock upside down. It was barely over 10 cm in length.

Juvenile slow worm (Anguis fragilis)

Juvenile slow worm (Anguis fragilis)

We are hoping to find four-lined snakes and horn-nosed vipers next time, beside the species mentioned above.

Botond Ádám

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