Biota and Environment of Natural Areas

Maslova I.V., Pokhilyuk N.Е.

Distribution and ecology of rare red-backed rat snake Oocatochus rufodorsatus (Cantor, 1842) in Primorye Territory (Southern Russian Far East)

Year: 2021, Number: 3, Pages: 56-70

This research presents new data on distribution, ecology and current condition of particular populations of Oocatochus rufodorsatus (Cantor, 1842), a rare snake species included into the Red Data Book of Primorye Territory. O. rufodorsatus was revealed to be abundant in the middle Komissarovka River basin and along the shore of Lake Khanka from villages Turiy Rog to Platonovo-Aleksandrovskoe (Khankaysky District, Primorye Territory). The number of O. rufodorsatus varied from 0.11 to 3.5 specimens per ha (0.84 sp. on average) and from 0.07 to 9.5 specimens per km on the routes (2.53 sp. on average). The largest number of snakes was found in mixed biotopes: 1) oak and broad-leaved forest at foothills – river bank overgrown with bushes and 2) floodplain forest – floodplain meadow. The highest number of O. rufodorsatus was recorded in spring (23.33 snakes per ha) and autumn (10 snakes per ha) near hibernacula. The earliest record for red-backed rat snakes emerging from hibernation was March 30, 2020. The study found O. rufodorsatus to inhabit the middle Komissarovka River basin along with Gloydius ussuriensis and Elaphe dione. In 2013 and 2018 the red-backed rat snake was an absolute dominant species. In 2015, 2017 and 2020 it became a dominant, and then a codominant species in 2014, 2016 and 2019. The primary threats to Oocatochus rufodorsatus are considered to be the destruction of hibernacula due to active rock excavation, wildfires in spring and autumn, and death on roadways.

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