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This is a snake! Or maybe a cute animal?

This is a snake!  Or maybe a cute animal?

The phenomenon of the modern mass extinction of species has been studied for years. It was already known that approximately 41 percent are threatened with extinction. Amphibian species, more than 25 percent are mammal species and about 14 percent. Types of birds. However, so far the reptile has been neglected, and only now has a comprehensive risk assessment been made.

The extinction of reptiles in the world

A recent publication in Nature shows that 1,829 of the 10,196 species are threatened with extinction, or about 21 percent. Types of reptiles. The worst of them are crocodiles and turtles, among which 60 and 50 percent are endangered, respectively. Ocean.

Fortunately, the publication shows that measures taken to protect other tetrapods should favor and protect reptiles.

The publication analyzes the causes of the extinction of reptiles. Among them are human-driven causes: habitat loss and fragmentation related to the intensification and expansion of agriculture, urban development and transportation, deforestation, biological invasions and climate change. In the case of turtles and crocodiles also hunting, trade and consumption.

When it comes to protecting the world’s reptiles, the largest number of species can be saved in warmer climates, especially in tropical forest areas or on islands (for example, New Zealand, where endemic species have survived, so they are not found anywhere else). Although the climate of Central Europe is not conducive to the abundance of reptiles, it is worth remembering the reptiles that are still found in our country.

What reptiles we have in Poland?

Herpetologist (researcher in amphibians and reptiles) Dr. Katarzyna Couric of the Institute for Nature Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences – requested by Science Poland for comment – states that our country naturally contains 10 species of reptiles, three of which are considered endangered here. Among the snakes there are five species in Poland: aesculapian rattlesnake (endangered), smooth rattlesnake (close to threatening), rattlesnake, grass snake, eagle-grass snake. We also have 4 types of lizards: lizard, lizard, sand lizard, slow worm and slow worm. Among the turtles in Poland, only the pond turtle (endangered species) is found naturally.

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Among these species, Dr. Couric says, there are two novelties in Poland: the osprey grass snake and the Colshed slow worm. The natural appearance of an eagle-grass snake was observed in 2011 on the Ulza River (Cieszyn Silesia). On the other hand, Kolchidae slowworms (from slowworms) were distinguished as a separate species only in 2010 – as a result of genetic research (from common slowworms) (it can be said that such slowworms have existed in Poland for a long time, but they did not have a name separate).

In addition to native species, we also have species of reptiles that appeared here thanks to humans. They are, for example, ornamental turtles – mainly red-eared turtles. These turtles were readily available, usually purchased as pets, and released into water tanks across the country. These turtles easily adapt to their new environment. The researcher reported that research is now underway on the reproduction of this species and its work in natural conditions.

He adds that red-eared turtles are currently considered an invasive species. – Since 2012, keeping, breeding, breeding, selling and buying this species is possible only after obtaining a permit from the competent regional director of environmental protection – the interviewee informs.

What does reptile protection look like?

When it comes to activities for Polish reptiles, Dr. Couric says that some species require active protection – that is, active measures that facilitate the reproduction and survival of these species. At the same time – he stresses – many of these activities are carried out as part of ad hoc short-term projects – for example by NGOs funded by the European Union. – In the meantime, for protection to be effective, it is important that such activities take place in a stable and permanent way – says the reptile specialist.

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Research is another important topic for conservation. Some of the protection activities carried out so far are carried out in the dark – without any exact knowledge of their effectiveness. For example, when building highways, canals and lanes for animals are created. You can guess that it is used not only by amphibians and mammals, but also by reptiles. Only it is still unknown to what extent. It’s also not fully known how effective measures such as releasing baby turtles into ponds are into the environment. And whether turtles released in this way will be able to reproduce will sometimes be recognized only after several decades (because turtles can live up to 100 years). So sometimes conservation measures are taken before the species is completely gone. However, in order to be able to improve ways of protecting endangered species, research must be done on a regular basis.

Dr. Cork says education is also an important component of animal protection, because reptiles, unfortunately, still cause irrational fear or disgust in some people. So the researcher praises, among other things, the projects implemented, for example, in the Bieszczady Mountains, according to which the image of cold-blooded animals is “warmed up”. And the residents know how to love the neighborhood of the scalloped snake or the grass boa. – And if we understand that these animals are rare and absolutely harmless to humans, then there would be no mindless killing of these animals – he explains. She adds that having reptiles protected in the garden should be something to be proud of.

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As for the snake – Poland’s only venomous reptile – Dr. Couric says the fear is too great for the real danger it can pose. The researcher explains that snakes usually escape in an emergency situation, and their bite is not dangerous for a healthy adult. – Unfortunately, people are so afraid of her that sometimes they try to kill her. No wonder an animal in a struggle for life can be bitten – it sums up. In her opinion, since people are already afraid of snakes, and this is a partially protected species, there are no services in Poland dedicated to removing these snakes from the vicinity of human homes. – If it were known who to call for snake care in the garden quickly, there could be fewer cases of killing these animals – the herpetologist believes.

Global extinction trends also apply to reptiles. This is an important group that should also be protected. In order not to lose this species, there should be an increased focus on educational activities, systematic protection and research on reptiles – concludes Dr.

Did you notice the creeper? Notify!

Currently, everyone can contribute to increasing knowledge about amphibians and reptiles in our country by reporting information about their vision to the database in the Atlas database of amphibians and reptiles in Poland created by the Institute for Nature Conservation. Data collected by volunteers helps scientists better describe, identify and protect the habitats of these endangered animals.

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