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Diet

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Rhabdophis tigrinus is one of few species in the world who is capable of consuming toads (is bufophagous) with no apparent ill effects. These snakes have evolved a resistance to the toxic effects of bufadienolides, a class of cardiotonic steroids produced in the paratoid glands and skin of toads as chemical defense. The diet of R. tigrinus is not, however, exclusively restricted to toads. These snakes will generally consume any anuran.
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Distribution

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Continent: Asia
Distribution: E Russia (Primorskiy and Khabarovsk territories) North Korea, South Korea China (widely distributed, except western third and extreme south; Chekiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hupeh, Guizhou, Sichuan, Gansu, Shensi, Suiyuan), Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan (Yakushima, Taegashima, Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu, Ryukyu Islands) formosanus: Taiwan
Type locality: œJapan
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Behaviour

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Rhabdophis tigrinus is known to engage in a defensive posture whereby it raises the back of its neck, displaying its nuchal glands (Mori and Burghardt, 2001). Studies have shown that R. tigrinus from a toad-free island (chemically undefended snakes) of Japan are less likely to engage in this defensive display, and more likely to flee (Mori and Burghardt, 2000).

In addition to the nuchal gland display, R. tigrinus is known to flatten its neck and and body, and death feign (Mutoh, 1983). This is a characteristic that has been observed in several bufophagous snakes (McDonald, 1974; Gregory et al., 2007).

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Description

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Rhabdophis tigrinus is a diurnal, olive green snake. The snout-vent length of Rhabdophis tigrinus males ranges between 60-90 cm and 60-260 grams (Tanaka and Ota, 2002). Females range between 65-130 cm and 80-800 grams (Tanaka and Ota, 2002).

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Diet

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The diet of Rhabdophis tigrinus consists exclusively of anurans. It is one of few species in the world who are capable of consuming toads (are bufophagous) with no apparent ill effects (Hutchinson et al., 2007). These snakes have evolved a resistance to the toxic effects of bufadienolides, a class of cardiotonic steroids produced in the parotoid glands and skin of toads as chemical defense. The diet of R. tigrinus is not, however, exclusively restricted to toads, they will generally consume any anuran they come across (Tanaka and Ota, 2002; Hirai, 2004).

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Physiology

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Rhabdophis tigrinus is a member of a unique group of Asian natricines who posses specialized nuchal glands of the back of their necks. Recent studies on this species has revealed that they sequester bufadienolides from the toads they consume into those nuchal glands (Hutchinson et al., 2007), a mechanism never previously documented in snakes. Further research has revealed that in addition to chemically defending themselves, females pass bufadienolides into the nuchal glands of their offspring through the yolk, thereby producing chemically defended hatchlings (Hutchinson et al., 2008).

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Rhabdophis tigrinus

provided by wikipedia EN

Rhabdophis tigrinus, also known commonly as the tiger keelback,[1] kkotbaem, or yamakagashi, is a species of venomous snake in the family Colubridae. The species is native to East Asia and Southeast Asia. Many sources, though not ITIS,[2] recognize one subspecies, Rhabdophis tigrinus formosanus of Taiwan.[1][3]

Description

The dorsal color pattern of R. tigrinus is olive-drab green, with black and bright orange crossbars or spots from the neck down the first third of the body. The belly is whitish. The average total length (including tail) is usually 60–100 cm (24-39 inches).[4]

Geographic range

R. tigrinus is found in eastern Russia (Primorskiy and Khabarovsk), North and South Korea, China (widespread, except in the western third and the extreme south; Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Guizhou, Sichuan, Gansu, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia), on the island of Taiwan, in Vietnam and in Japan (Yakushima, Tanegashima, Kyūshū, Shikoku, Honshu, Osaka and in the Ryukyu Islands). The type locality given is "Japan".[1]

Diet

The diet of R. tigrinus consists mainly of small vertebrates, especially frogs and toads. It forages using both chemical (smell/tongue) and visual cues to find its prey.[5]

Defensive behavior

When R. tigrinus is challenged at cooler temperatures it tends to demonstrate passive anti-predator responses such as flattening the neck and body and lying still, while at higher temperatures it more frequently flees instead. This species has two nuchal glands in its neck that sequester steroid irritants obtained from eating poisonous toads as a predation defence. This snake thus appears to rely more heavily on the deterrence provided by these glands at low ambient temperatures.[6][7] Although venomous, few deaths have been recorded due to its tendency to display one of these other behaviors as opposed to striking. This hesitancy to strike at a predator in turn may be because its fangs are located in the back of the mouth, making a successful strike on a large object difficult.[8]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Rhabdophis tigrinus at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 21 September 2008.
  2. ^ "Rhabdophis tigrinus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  3. ^ Breuer, Hans; Murphy, William Christopher (2009–2010). "Rhabdophis tigrinus formosanus". Snakes of Taiwan. Retrieved 7 October 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Rhabdophis tigrinus lateralis at Animal Pictures Archive. Accessed 21 September 2008.
  5. ^ Tanaka, Koji (2002). "Foraging Behavior of Rhabdophis tigrinus (Serpentes: Colubridae) in a Gutter with a Dense Aggregation of tadpoles". Current Herpetology. 21 (1): 1–8. doi:10.5358/hsj.21.1.
  6. ^ Mori A, Burghardt GM (2001). "Temperature effects on anti-predator behaviour in Rhabdophis tigrinus, a snake with toxic nuchal glands". Ethology. 107 (9): 795–811. doi:10.1046/j.1439-0310.2001.00706.x.
  7. ^ Hutchinson DA, Mori A, Savitzky AH, Burghardt GM, Wu X, Meinwald J, Schroeder FC (2007). "Dietary sequestration of defensive steroids in nuchal glands of the Asian snake Rhabdophis tigrinus". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104 (7): 2265–2270. doi:10.1073/pnas.0610785104. PMC 1892995. PMID 17284596.
  8. ^ Sawai Y, Honma M, Kawamura Y, Saki A, Hatsuse M (2002). "Rhabdophis tigrinus in Japan: Pathogenesis of envenomation and production of antivenom". Toxin Reviews. 21 (1–2): 181–201. doi:10.1081/TXR-120004746. S2CID 84284824.
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Rhabdophis tigrinus: Brief Summary

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Rhabdophis tigrinus, also known commonly as the tiger keelback, kkotbaem, or yamakagashi, is a species of venomous snake in the family Colubridae. The species is native to East Asia and Southeast Asia. Many sources, though not ITIS, recognize one subspecies, Rhabdophis tigrinus formosanus of Taiwan.

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