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Reptiles And Amphibians

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Smooth snake

Coronella austriaca

This small snake measures up to 75 centimetres long. It is predominantly brown with a characteristic dark pattern on the head and neck and four dark stripes along the body. It has smooth scales on its back. It is considered conditionally venomous, as its venomous fangs are situated deep in the mouth cavity.

The habitat of the smooth snake includes most of Europe, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, Kazakhstan and part of Siberia. In Ukraine, it is common in the Carpathians and Crimea, and can also be found sporadically in other areas.

The smooth snake prefers dry locations warmed by the sun, keeping to glades in deciduous and pine forests. It is active from the second half of March until mid-October. It hides in rock crevices, under stones, in the roots and trunks of trees, and in rodent burrows. It is active during the day, feeding primarily on lizards, small snakes, mouse-liked rodents, shrews, and the chicks of small birds. Smooth snakes are ovoviviparous reptiles, meaning the eggs hatch within the body of the parent. Smooth snakes mate immediately after leaving their brumation shelters. Between July and the beginning of October, females produce between two and 17 eggs. Adults shed their skin four times during the summer. Smooth snakes are characterised by expressive aggression towards humans when in danger. They coil into a ball, open their mouths widely, hiss and strike with their heads, although their bite is not dangerous to humans. They may be eaten by ferrets, badgers, hedgehogs and birds of prey, although they are most under threat from human beings and have been included in the Red Book of Ukraine.

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