Even in the century before last, an ordinary one could easily settle in a peasant's yard, without fear for his life. The villagers were afraid to kill the intruder because of a superstitious fear of casting trouble on their house.
Appearance, description of an ordinary snake
The reptile belongs to the family of the already distinctive, differing from its friends in the serpentine kingdom with yellow "ears" - symmetrical marks on the head (closer to the neck). Spots are lemon, orange, dirty white or completely invisible.
The size of the average individual does not exceed 1 m, but more solid specimens (1.5-2 m each) are also found. Males are much smaller than females. The head of the snake is noticeably separated from the neck, and the body is 3-5 times longer than the tail.
The top of the snake body can be painted in dark gray, brown or olive color, diluted with a dark "checkerboard" pattern. Abdomen - light gray or dirty white, with a dark longitudinal stripe in the center. In some individuals, this strip occupies the entire lower side. Among the snakes there are both albinos and melanists.
It is interesting!A venomous snake has little in common with a poisonous viper: favorite places of relaxation (forest, ponds, lawns) and the desire to avoid collisions with people.
True, the viper less often maintains self-control and attacks a person during the first careless movement.
The differences between reptiles are much greater:
- it is longer, slimmer than a viper and has a smoother transition from the body to the tail;
- yellow spots stand out on the head of the snake, and a zigzag strip stretches along the back of the viper;
- the snake has an oval, slightly ovoid head, while the viper has a triangular head and resembles a spear;
- snakes have no toxic teeth;
- pupils have vertical or round pupils (similar to feline pupils), and pupils have transverse pupils like sticks;
- snakes eat frogs, and vipers prefer mice.
In fact, there are much more differences (for example, in the form of scales and shields), but the amateur does not need this knowledge. You will not look at the scales when threatened by a snake attack?
In the northern latitudes, the common snake can be found from Karelia and Sweden to the Arctic Circle, in the southern - on the northern coast of Africa (up to the Sahara). The western border of the range passes through the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula, while the eastern one captures central Mongolia and Transbaikalia.
The snakes adapt to any landscape, even man-made, the main thing is that a pond with standing or slowly flowing water is located nearby.
These snakes live in a meadow, in a forest, a river floodplain, steppe, in a swamp, in the mountains, gardens, in urban wastelands and in forest park areas. Settling in the city, the snakes often find themselves under the wheels, as they like to bask on the asphalt. This is the main reason for the decline in the population of snakes in densely populated areas, although globally, you can not worry about the number of species.
Duration and lifestyle
Already lives a lot, from 19 to 23 years, and the main condition for his long life is water, which is responsible for the scientific name of the species - natrix (from the Latin natans translated as "swimmer").
It is interesting!They drink and swim a lot, making distant swims without a specific goal. Their route usually runs along the coast, although individual individuals have been seen in the open sea and in the center of huge lakes (tens of kilometers from land).
It moves like all snakes in water, lifting its neck vertically and curving its body and tail in a horizontal plane in a wave-like fashion. During the hunt, he dives deeply, while resting, he lies at the bottom or wraps himself around an underwater snag.
Looking for prey in the mornings / evenings, although the peak of activity falls on daylight hours. On a clear day, an ordinary one exposes the sides to the sun on a stump, a stone, a hummock, a fallen trunk or any convenient elevation. At night, creeps into a shelter - voids from twisted roots, clusters of stones or holes.
If the snake does not hide before sunset, it will quickly cool down and will not be able to quickly flee from natural enemies, among which are noted:
- predatory mammals, including fox, raccoon dog, weasel and hedgehog;
- 40 species of large birds (for example, storks and herons);
- rodents, including rats;
- amphibians such as frogs and toads;
- trout (eating young);
- ground beetles and ants (destroy eggs).
Trying to catch fear on the enemy, hissing and squeezing the neck area (pretending to be a poisonous snake), folds the body in a zigzag and nervously twitches the end of the tail. The second option is to flee.
It is interesting! Once in the clutches of a predator or human hands, the reptile pretends to be dead or splashes with a stinky substance secreted by the cloacal glands.
Uzi are constantly experiencing a shortage of reliable shelters, which is why they enjoy using the fruits of human activity, living houses, chicken coops, baths, cellars, bridges, sheds, compost heaps and garbage dumps.
Diet - what the ordinary eats
The gastronomic preferences of the snake are pretty monotonous - it's frogs and fish. Periodically, he includes in his diet and other prey of a suitable size. It can be:
- chicks (dropped out of the nest);
- newborn water rats;
- insects and their larvae.
Snakes disdain carrion and do not eat plants, but they readily drink milk, once in the terrarium.
When hunting for fish, she already uses wait-and-see tactics, grabbing the victim with a lightning-fast movement when she swims close enough. Frogs are already actively pursuing on land, but they don’t even try to bounce to a safe distance, not seeing a deadly danger in the snake.
A fish dish is swallowed without any problems, but eating a frog usually stretches for many hours, since it is not always possible to capture it directly by the head. Like other snakes, it already knows how to stretch its throat, but the angular frog is in no hurry to go into the stomach and sometimes breaks out of the supper's mouth. But the executioner is not ready to let go of the victim and grabs her again to continue the meal.
After a hearty dinner, there is no food for at least five days, and if necessary, several months.
It is interesting! There is a known case when a forced hunger strike lasted 10 months. This test was subjected to him by a German naturalist who did not feed the subject from June to April. The first feeding of the snake after a hunger strike took place without deviations from the digestive tract.
Puberty occurs in 3-4 years. The mating season lasts from April to May; egg laying takes place in July-August. The periods of courtship games in different regions may not coincide, but they always begin at the end of the first seasonal molt (it usually changes the skin by catching and digesting the first prey). Cases of autumn mating were recorded, then the female lays eggs after wintering.
The intercourse is preceded by the interweaving of several snakes (females and many males) into a “marriage ball”, the result of which is laying of leathery eggs in an amount from a few to 100 (and even more).
It is interesting!If there are not enough secluded places in the habitat, females create a collective repository of eggs. Eyewitnesses told how once they found a clutch of 1,200 eggs in a forest glade (under the old door).
The masonry should be protected from drying out and the cold, for which the snake looks for a moist and warm "incubator", which often becomes a pile of foliage, a thick layer of moss or a rotten stump.
Having laid eggs, the female does not incubate the offspring, leaving him to the mercy of fate. After 5-8 weeks, small snakes from 11 to 15 cm long appear from the moment of birth, preoccupied with finding a place for wintering.
Not all kites manage to feed themselves up to the cold, but even hungry kids reach the spring heat, unless they develop a little slower than their well-fed sisters and brothers.
Content of an ordinary house
The snakes endure captivity remarkably, are easily tamed and undemanding in content. They need a horizontal type terrarium (50 * 40 * 40 cm) with the following equipment:
- a thermocouple / thermocover for heating (+ 30 + 33 degrees in a warm corner);
- gravel, paper or coconut for the substrate;
- shelter in a warm corner (to maintain humidity it is placed in a cuvette with a sphagnum);
- shelter in a cold corner (dry);
- a capacious container with water so that the snake swims there, bites during molting, and not only quenches thirst;
- UV lamp for daylight.
On sunny days, additional terrarium lighting is not required. Once a day, it is sprayed with warm water so that the sphagnum always remains wet. The homemade diet of snakes consists of small fish and frogs: it is desirable that the prey show signs of life, otherwise the pet may refuse food.
It is interesting!Sometimes snacks are accustomed to thawed foods. They feed them already 1-2 times a week, large reptiles - even less often. Once a month, mineral dressings are mixed in food, and instead of ordinary water they give mineral. Water in the drinker is changed daily.
If desired, the snake is put into hibernation, for which, with the onset of autumn, the lighting / heating time is reduced from 12 to 4 hours. After you achieve a decrease in temperature in the terrarium to + 10 + 12 degrees and stop lighting it, the snake will fall into hibernation (up to 2 months). The dream simulated by you will have a beneficial effect on the body of a rested pet.