tripreport greece

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Re: tripreport greece

Postby lakiere pieter » Fri May 18, 2018 9:00 pm

DSC06569.jpg
natrix tesselata
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Re: tripreport greece

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Sat May 19, 2018 7:20 pm

You have seen many tortoises (really!!!), but if I remember my past (it was probaly more than 20 years ago) in the same places, I remember the huge amount of snakes (mainly grass snakes, but not only) I saw every day in spring. I would say, in one average day of herping, it was a rather normal thing to spot: around 15-20 or more Natrix natrix, 5-10 Natrix tessellata, 2-4 Elaphe quatuorlineata, 2-4 Vipera ammodytes, 1-2 Malpolon, 2-4 or more of the "old Coluber" group (gemonensis, caspius or najadum) and 2-3 or more Typhlops under stones. Zamenis situla was less commonly seen: maybe 1-2 living specimens in a whole 10 days vacation, if you were lucky (and some others DOR). I saw only once a living Telescopus, but this is probably due to the fact that I almost never went herping in the night.
But that was anyway a huge amount of snakes in a normal week of herping: something around 200 or 300 snakes I guess... and surely around 100 even if you were "unlucky".
What is happened in 20-25 years? I have some ideas about this... :?
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Re: tripreport greece

Postby lakiere pieter » Sat May 19, 2018 9:06 pm

Something is dramatically changed than the last years. The amount of snakes you have seen is enormous. I doubt these numbers can be seen these days. What is changed than? The thing I've noticed was the lack of thick vegetation due to overgrazing by livestock. We only found normal numbers of reptiles in areas with thicker and higher vegetation. Around the ruins we only found a single platyceps najadum and glasslizards. At the lake we only found several snakes at the entrance, ammodytes, malpolon and platyceps. We found 25 snakes in 12 days. 7 species total. My friend has an eagle eye vision when it comes to spotting snakes. We did not search very intensively. About a couple of hours per day. 5 natrix natrix were found, 2 natrix tesselata, 8 viperas ammodytes, 2 zamenis situla,1 malpolon,1 caspius, 4 platyceps.
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Re: tripreport greece

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Sun May 20, 2018 6:39 am

lakiere pieter wrote:Something is dramatically changed than the last years. The amount of snakes you have seen is enormous. I doubt these numbers can be seen these days. What is changed than? The thing I've noticed was the lack of thick vegetation due to overgrazing by livestock. We only found normal numbers of reptiles in areas with thicker and higher vegetation. Around the ruins we only found a single platyceps najadum and glasslizards. At the lake we only found several snakes at the entrance, ammodytes, malpolon and platyceps. We found 25 snakes in 12 days. 7 species total. My friend has an eagle eye vision when it comes to spotting snakes. We did not search very intensively. About a couple of hours per day. 5 natrix natrix were found, 2 natrix tesselata, 8 viperas ammodytes, 2 zamenis situla,1 malpolon,1 caspius, 4 platyceps.


Yes. Overgrazing is a big problem there, for sure, but it's not the only one.
I would list them as follows, distinguishing sure factors (I've personally witnessed) from other possible factors.


Sure factors:

1) Overgrazing
1 bis) Direct killing of snakes by shepards

2) Drying of swamps areas (maybe for climatic reasons?)
2bis) Reclamation of swamps areas

3) Increased tourism with more new roads, more traffick on roads and increased killing of herps on the roads
3 bis) Increased direct killing by tourists and locals

4) Deforestation in general
4 bis) Deforestation around swamps to create pastures for livestock


Possible other factors:

1) Wild boars spreading

2) Fires

3) Pollution

4) Climatic changes (?)
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Re: tripreport greece

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Sun May 20, 2018 7:45 am

An example of what I mean with "huge amount of snakes". Sorry for the bad quality of the picture: I've found it on the web (posted years ago in another forum) and it is an old slide of mine which I scanned...
natrici.jpg_2011126113817_natrici.jpg
Big quatuorlineata female (barely visible under the grass in the lower center) literally surrounded by many specimens of Natrix natrix
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Re: tripreport greece

Postby Ilian Velikov » Sun May 20, 2018 12:16 pm

Well, there might be some decrease of snake numbers but 25 snakes in 12 days is a very good number of snakes too. And having in mind that you only looked for a couple of hours per day for them I'm not sure if your result could be taken as a proof of lower numbers. If the numbers are indeed lower I would put my bet on alteration or destruction of habitat. Ruggero, I don't think that direct killing of snakes was ever a major threat to any snake population, especially on the Balkans. It could be a factor if it's a small population with restricted habitat but knowing the environment on the Balkans I don't think shepherds are any real threat, in fact I'm sure they kill far less snakes per year then natural predators.
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Re: tripreport greece

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Sun May 20, 2018 1:09 pm

Ilian Velikov wrote:Well, there might be some decrease of snake numbers but 25 snakes in 12 days is a very good number of snakes too. And having in mind that you only looked for a couple of hours per day for them I'm not sure if your result could be taken as a proof of lower numbers. If the numbers are indeed lower I would put my bet on alteration or destruction of habitat. Ruggero, I don't think that direct killing of snakes was ever a major threat to any snake population, especially on the Balkans. It could be a factor if it's a small population with restricted habitat but knowing the environment on the Balkans I don't think shepherds are any real threat, in fact I'm sure they kill far less snakes per year then natural predators.


Ilian, the territory around Parga is not a sort of "amazon forest" but a restricted mediterranean habitat inside a touristic region, with many agricultural areas, many hotels (old and new), trafficked roads, mass tourism, livestock with shepards and so on. A very "delicate" and fragmented habitat. I've seen there in the past many snakes killed by people (directly or indirectly): leopardsnakes, ammodytes, malpolon and so on. It's not important if they were killed by a shepard, by a tourist, by a car or by a new hotel's owner: there were tens of snakes killed every time I was there. And that type of killing was not a natural one! I mean: snakes population had reached in thousands of years an equilibrium with natural predators. And natural predators obviously become of less impact if a snake population become less abundant: the balance remains anyway. With killing by humans' hand no balance is possible: deaths from humans, even if less in number (at least at first) than natural predations, tend to go straight on till the total extinction of a snake population. Human killing is not a natural type of predation: it's a new factor, which comes after thousands of years of equilibrium, and forcely tends towards the destruction of the victims (which are not "preys" in this case). If a snake population of, let's say 1000 snakes or what you want, produces every year 1000 new snakes which are predated by natural predators, you have a balanced situation. Small variations are compensated: snakes increase in number, so do natural predators and vice versa. But if humans come in and the snakes killed are no longer 1000 but 1300 of which 300 are killed without any natural selection (as it's the case with natural predators) you can be sure that the pristine equilibrium will be soon broken. And you can be sure that the last snake of a certain area will be killed by a man and not by a snake-eagle: simply because snake eagles would had already abandoned that territory years before!
25 snakes in ten days around Parga in spring is ridicolous, if I think about "my" old times. In two hours of herping I could observe there in good days more than 25 snakes: in my picture you can see probably about ten snakes or little less... Ten snakes just in one picture, not in two hours of herping! I can guarantee: those places were a gan-eden for snakes, a true open-air reptilarium.
Many factors contribute to snake decline, sure: direct human killing is probably not the first one in order of importance, I agree with you (for some "big" areas at least), but it's also surely not the last/least important one near Parga...
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Re: tripreport greece

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Sun May 20, 2018 2:39 pm

Another interesting annotation: take a look at the two small situlas of Pieter. Their background colour is pure (actually dull/dark) grey. I've never seen in Greece straw/golden yellow baby situlas as it's a frequent case for the small situlas in Cres island. Beautiful grey-red babies yes, golden yellow-red babies no.
I will post here a picture as comparison...

golden.jpg
One of the most colorful babies found in Cres: the picture was taken at night and does not give full justice to this little beauty...

golden2.jpg
Same: very blurry picture, but the golden background colour is well represented here...
golden2.jpg (202.06 KiB) Viewed 726 times
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Re: tripreport greece

Postby lakiere pieter » Sun May 20, 2018 9:19 pm

The yellow zamenis situla looks awesome. Definetely one of the most beautifull snakes in Europe. For the invertebrate lovers the scorpion was not a euscorpius but buthus specie.
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Re: tripreport greece

Postby Aleksandar Simovic » Sun May 20, 2018 9:43 pm

Been there in first half od April, lake was very productive, we saw more then 30 snakes in few hours, sadly no situla :(
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