Distribution and Activity of Caspian Whip Snake Dolichophis caspius (Gmelin, 1789) (Reptilia: Colubridae) in South-Western Bulgaria

Alexander N. Pulev1*, Borislav Y. Naumov2, Lyuben D. Domozetski1, Lidia G. Sakelarieva1, George N. Manolev1
1 - South-West University "Neofit Rilski", Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Geography, Ecology and Environmental Protection,
66 Ivan Mihailov Street, 2700 Blagoevgrad, BULGARIA
2 - Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 2 Yurii Gagarin Street, 1113 Sofia, BULGARIA
*Corresponding author: pulev.alex@abv.bg
Abstract. The purpose of the study is to supplement, summarize and analyse data about the distribution and activity of Dolichophis caspius in south-western Bulgaria. The new data about the species were collected from 1991 to 2019 during herpetological surveys. The total number of records until now is 420: 148 of them can be found in previous publications, and 272 are reported for the first time. There are published data about 10 pieces of shed skins, and other 17 are newly registered. All data available indicate, that D. caspius is widespread in the study area. The species spreads northward throughout Zemen Gorge in the Struma River valley, and northward throughout Momina Klisura Gorge in the Mesta River valley. It is the most common snake in these areas (up to 1000-1100 m a.s.l.) where 12 other snake species also occur. D. caspius is active from the third decade of March till the first decade of November. No winter activity of the species has been recorded, despite the active search in December, January and February in some years. The period of activity can be divided in three – a period of very low, low and high activity. The snake is very warm-loving. It remains active even during the hottest months, and was observed only during the day most often around mid-day and 4 p.m.
Key words: Serpentes, colubrid snakes, ecology, ethology, biogeography, Balkan Peninsula.

Ecologia Balkanica, 2019, Special Edition 2, pp. 116-137
Article № eb.19SE214 [Full text - PDF]pdf

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