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Adder Watching Help!!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2005 at 4:25pm

Granted the captive situation is of little relevance, but I would maintain that the primary motivation to use tins during ecdysis is to increase metabolic rate inline with observations of grass snakes using refugia whilst digesting meals. (Consider how many adult grass snakes found under tin are either Šin the blueĂ or digesting their last meal)

I have seen both grass snakes in the blue and very full with meals openly basking at sites where artificial refugia were not available, granted they can be a little tetchy at this time, but I think in the wild the need to thermo-regulate at these times outweighs the need to hide from predators.. tins just let them have the best of both worlds.

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Peter Vaughan View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Vaughan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 2005 at 12:28am

On the subject of when Grass Snakes slough, I found three skins in late June/early July 2004 - all by accident - at a local nature reserve in North Hampshire.

The first was just after observing several large Grass Snakes- presumably female - basking on piles of logs.  My wife spotted what appeared to be another one at the base of a gorse bush - which on closer inspection was an intact skin in good condition (e.g. you could make out the eye coverings on the head), just under a metre in length.

The location of the second two came to light following a mid-day visit to a pond in the same area, to take some digital photgraphs of dragonflies.  On returning home, and viewing the images on a PC, I saw, on one picture of a dragonfly perching on a log at the edge of a pond, a section of a snake skin - which I'd not noticed while in the field.  I returned to the pond that evening and found two intact skins partly wedged under the log - one just under a metre, one just over. 

I understand that female Grass Snakes shed their skin just before egg-laying, so presumably the skins could have been from the same individuals I'd seen basking nearby.  Judging by the locations of where I found the skins their owners appeared to have used tight spaces to wedge themselves in to assist the sloughing process?

One question I'd appreciate some advice on is whether the length of a shed snake skin is the same as that of its former owner - or whether some stretching (or shrinking) is likely to have occured?




Peter Vaughan
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Wolfgang Wuster View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wolfgang Wuster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 2005 at 6:39am
Hi Peter,

Sloughed skins are generally greatly stretched compared to their previous inhabitant. Once they dry out, some shrivelling may also occur.

Does anyone here have any data on how much they are stretched when first shed?


Wolfgang W├╝ster

School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GeoffS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Mar 2005 at 2:05am


Actually there is a good adder site near Warrington and also between Chester and Wrexham if this is any good for you.

Here in Derbyshire we have had quiet start to the year - I have only had several sightings but the are regular and when the sun comes out as it did last week I found 18 (14 males and 4 females) in 3 hours search of the moor near where I live. So far this spring I not encountered any of last years juveniles but undoubtedly I will over the forth coming weeks. Probably when I'm out photographing emperor moths and green hairstreak on the moor in late April and May.


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