Patterned skid

Elaphe dione

You can meet a patterned runner on the territory of Korea, Primorye, Mongolia, Northern China. In Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan), Kazakhstan and Southern Siberia to Ukraine, Northern Iran, Afghanistan and Transcaucasia (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia). There are also known finds of this species of snakes on some islands of the Caspian and Aral Seas.
It is an environmentally plastic species. The runner adapts well to living in a variety of conditions in several natural zones: from deserts and steppes to mixed and coniferous forests. It can be found in floodplains and river valleys, on alpine meadows, the outskirts of swamps, salt marshes, dunes, on rocky slopes year, rising to a height of up to 3600 m. above the morata level. He moves quickly both on tree branches and on the ground, swims and dives superbly, including in seawater. As a shelter, it can use cavities under the roots of trees, hollows, cracks in the soil.
Often the patterned runner settles near a person and often inhabits gardens, vegetable gardens, vineyards and crops, irrigated lands and rice fields.

The average life expectancy of a patterned runner is 9-10 years.
The body coloration of this species is very diverse both in different populations and within one. The general background of the body: from above – grayish-brownish, sometimes with a brown tinge, with four brown longitudinal stripes (two of which extend to the tail) and with blackish spots. There is a specific pattern on the upper surface of the head, which changes with age. A dark temporal stripe runs from the eyes to the neck. The belly is grayish or yellowish with a reddish speck. Sometimes with dark spots. During the molting period, the color can change significantly, often becomes less contrasting.

It can reach up to 1.5 meters in length. The tail, as a rule, does not exceed 17-30 cm. the pre-ocular shield may be partially divided from below. The width of the mandibular and nasal shields is greater than their own height. The prefrontal brushes come into contact with the supraorbital, and the only zygomatic has a trapezoidal shape. There are two or three occlusal shields, 7-9 upper labial ones, 51-78 underhand ones, 23 to 28 scales around the body. Males have abdominal shields 171 – 201, females 187 – 214. the anal shield is divided. The fourth or fifth labial touches the eye. Temporal shields 2-3 and 3-4 in each of the two vertical rows. On the sides of the body, the scales are smooth, on the back with weak ribs and two apical pores.
Leads a predominantly diurnal lifestyle. Wintering lasts from September-November to March-April.
As for the differences between the sexes in patterned runners, in principle, females do not differ from males in color and size from each other. Males have a longer tail, with a characteristic thickening near the base, starting from the anal opening it is cylindrical in shape, then turning into a cone-shaped one. Females have a shorter tail, there is no thickening at the base, it is conical in shape. Sexual differences include a greater number of abdominal shields in females.

The enemies of the patterned runner include birds (in particular the steppe eagle) and predatory mammals. Its ability to move quickly into cover or onto tree branches is a good defense. In case of danger, the tip of the tail vibrates, hitting hard objects, and emits a characteristic crack.
The runners are completely safe for humans. They are usually very calm, and their bites are completely harmless.
The diet includes small mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, fish and insects. Eats chicks from bird clutches. The egg swallows at the same time, opening its mouth wide. The shell is crushed by the lower processes of the vertebrae, pressing them on the dorsal wall of the esophagus.
The victim is swallowed from the head. The snake strangles the caught prey, squeezing it with the rings of its body, and swallows only dead, having previously moistened it with saliva.
Cases of cannibalism have been recorded.
Puberty in patterned runners occurs in 2-3 years. Males mature earlier than females.
Mating takes place in April-May, although in some places (for example, in Primorye) the mating period increases until June. Usually, the female lays eggs in the forest litter or overripe grass near reservoirs, in the dust of rotten trees. In a clutch from 5 to 24 eggs of various lengths (up to 16, 30 to 17, 50 mm.). The incubation period lasts about a month (more often it is reduced to almost two weeks, since the development of embryos begins in the female's oviducts). Young individuals appear in the period from July to September and have a length of about 24 cm, and a weight of about 9 gr.
Newborn runners shed after about a week and already begin to feed on newborn mice.
In the terrarium content, after the withdrawal of the runners from the wintering, they must be irradiated, as well as fed, adding to the food preparations that contain vitamin "E" for 2-3 weeks. Then the females and males are hooked up to each other. Copulations last quite a long time, about 2-3 hours. After mating, females lay eggs after 45-95 days. For laying, you need to prepare a cuvette with a sphagnum. The masonry itself is removed and placed at a temperature of 27-29 degrees in an incubator.


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