Herptiles of the north

Norway, Sweden, Finland, Baltic Republics

Herptiles of the north

Postby Jimmy Lundqvist » Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:30 pm

Swedish herp association held the 2011 expiditon in the northern parts of Sweden on June 1-5.
24 happy herpetologists from all of Sweden were guided around two Vipera berus locations in the vicinity of Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland. Jukkasjärvi is located about 200 km north of the arctic circle, and the adders spend around 8 months in hibernation.
We arrive in middle of breeding season when snow just has melted and the temperature were around 5-12 C daytime, and around -5 to +3 nighttime.
The herpetofauna consists of viviparous lizard, common frog and adder. Common toad might exist on these latitudes, but we didnt have any reports from our area.

Facing north on the summit of Etnoluhtinvaara, the lake Jukkasjärvi and endless wilderness (well, almost):
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View to the south:
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the open areas are moors where the adders spend their summers stuffing themselves with greysided voles (Clethrionomys rufocanus), there is also lots of frogs and some lizards here. I was told there is a good year for voles, and we could see them running around in broad daylight, but they were too fast for taking photos.

Habitat:
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Common frog:
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Viviparous lizard (juvenile), I only saw 3-4 lizards totally:
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The arctic adders are known to be exceptionally large, according to our guide they dont grow as large as some say (1 meter is a myth?), but some can get to around 80 cm full body length. The reason is that they live longer than other adders due to lower predation. Some adders are estimated to be around 25-30 years. The largest individuals I witnessed on this trip was a 59 cm svl, and 69 cm full body length male, and a female with a stumped tail that was 67 cm svl, 68 cm full body length. The female was huuuge!
Pic of the female:
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The male:
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Another large female, many of the adults were around 55-59 svl.
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Various snakes:
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Mountain Etnoluhtinvaara from our campsite. It didnt get any darker than this due to the midnight sun.
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Road to campsite with herpetologists:
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Jukkasjärvi on google maps:
http://maps.google.se/maps?q=jukkasj%C3 ... C/small%3E
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Re: Herptiles of the north

Postby Ilian Velikov » Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:37 pm

Nice observations from a very interesting place, from which I've seen very few reports! Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Herptiles of the north

Postby Daniel Kane » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:38 pm

Arctic Adders, how cool! It is very unusual to see reports from such places, but very interesting nonetheless! I find it amazing that such animals are able to survive at extreme latitudes/longitudes and that they spend more of their lives in hibernation than they do active! Seeing as the landscape is so flat, where will these reptiles spend the winter months?

You say Adders here are larger due to fewer predators.. Is there any data on the maximum length/weight of an Adder (in a predator free environment)? Perhaps this is where the 1m long 'myth' comes from...
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Re: Herptiles of the north

Postby Jimmy Lundqvist » Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:09 am

The snakes hibernate on the south slope of the mountain on a talus slide halfway up. When the snow melts in May they crawl to the moors and start mating/feeding period,
Since these snakes can get really old and still only are max 75-80 cm its hard to belive the can get any bigger, but they do appear as giants when you see them, compared to "normal" adders from southern latitudes.
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Re: Herptiles of the north

Postby Jürgen Gebhart » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:00 am

The area looks great!
the viper male with the wide black band is very nice!!!
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Re: Herptiles of the north

Postby Rok Grzelj » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:14 am

Very interesting report and pics!
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Re: Herptiles of the north

Postby Paul Lambourne » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:30 am

Great to see habit and in situ pics of berus close to or at its Northerly limits.. berus must be up there with ursinii and monticola as the hardiest of venomous snakes..

Very interesting report, thanks for sharing.

Kind regards

Paul
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Re: Herptiles of the north

Postby Daniel Claesson » Tue Jun 21, 2011 3:56 pm

Nice report. I missed this due to family stuff :(

Can you fill me in on which people that did make it to this fieldtripp. I know that Stefan A was there obviously :D
I did talk to him about this tripp when i studied his Herpetology course on Skövde University this year. We did some really nice herping in that course down in Skåne.

Regards
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Re: Herptiles of the north

Postby Mario Schweiger » Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:37 am

Very nice landscape and very nice adders too ;)
Unfortunately a bit far off from my home.
Stefan told me at my last visit in Norrköping on these huge berus north of the circle - to see them should be a must :lol:

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Please visit also my personal Herp-site vipersgarden.at
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Re: Herptiles of the north

Postby Jimmy Lundqvist » Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:44 am

Daniel, I have sent you a PM!

Yes the landscape is breathtaking, it was a really nice experiance.

We also found beartracks and droppings, also remains of reindeers taken by bears, quite bizarre when you see a hoof with some loose skin and bone sticking out lying on the edge of a peat bog... Didnt see any bears though. :)
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