Beijing Summer 2017

For your reports/images, made outside Europe and the "Mediterranean" countries. Not to be too narrow minded and limited to our European/Mediterranean herps.

Beijing Summer 2017

Postby Guillaume Blanchet » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:55 am

Hi Folk,
Here is my herping summary (summer 2017) from Beijing where I now live. All herps were found inside parks of the city. Few species are found, for sure, but at some place they can be quite common. As it is not something we usually see in Europe (but may seems familiar), I uploaded all my findings. Follow the tour guy!

First post with the Beijing amphibians:

P.planncyi_green.jpg
Eastern golden frog (Pelophylax plancyi) is really common in the water pond, usually basking on lotus leaves and other floating elements

P.planncyi_dark.jpg
Most of the individuals I found were green, but darker ones can also be seen


It shares its habitat with the dark-spotted brown frogs (Pelophylax nigromaculatus). Even if I believe P.nigromaculatus can frequent the shore of the pond and can be found away from water more frequently. Here again, a great polymorphism (from green to black)…

P.nigromaculatus_common.jpg
I believe it to be the common phase of P. nigromaculatus

P.nigromaculatus_dark.jpg
Dark phase of P. nigromaculatus

P.nigromaculatus_pink.jpg
Pinkish… Must be rare

B.gargarizans.jpg
Sometimes, you come across a meditating Asiatic toad too (Bufo gargarizans)


Reptiles will follow...

Best
Guillaume
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Re: Beijing Summer 2017

Postby Guillaume Blanchet » Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:43 am

Here come the reptiles!

Where amphibians are common, their predators can survive. And in the Beijing ponds, the frog-eating snake is the red-backed rat snake (Oocatochus rufodorsatus).
It was a real surprise to come across this species the first time, I have never heard about it before to be honest, and yes, was not sure what was going on to see a rat snake swimming and looking for frogs.

Orufo_Subadu.jpg
My first O.rufodorsatus, a gorgeous one! A sub adult on the hunt with frequent tongue flicking


habitat.jpg
its habitat, and the habitat of the frogs presented earlier: shallow water covered with lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) and directly exposed to sunlight


Orufo_Head.jpg
An adult in exploration, head close-up


Orufo_adu.jpg
Body view of the same specimen


Orufo_young.jpg
In September, I found few hatchlings of O.rufodorsatus, basking on dead leaves topping the water pond.


I also found an adult of Elaphe anomala (a superb adult but did not expect a snake so no picture), and the Peking gecko (Gekko swinhonis), which can be found throughout the city:
gecko.jpg


And finally, I was close to forget it, the cosmopolitan red-eared pond slider:
turtle.jpg
Trachemys scripta elegans is found in every water pond of Beijing, more or less…
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Re: Beijing Summer 2017

Postby Michal Szkudlarek » Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:47 pm

Bejing equivalent of Natrix looks better than natrix imo- nice spots with empty centres throughout body.

a superb adult but did not expect a snake so no picture

No cellphone with you to take photo either?

Strange that they import Trachemys scripta elegans from the USA to China while they churn out Ocadia sinensis for pet trade.

Btw I bought Nelumbo nucifera (the plants in your photo) seeds from aliexpres and they were initially growing but then died, I dont know why.
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Re: Beijing Summer 2017

Postby Tim Leerschool » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:15 pm

Hi Guillaume,

nice to see herps in Beijing. I've been there a couple times and tried to find some herps but mostly found the common stuff. I am very much surprised about the snakes! Within city boundaries even?! Very nice find.

I am very curious to see what else you'll find!

Keep 'em coming!

Regards,

Tim
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Re: Beijing Summer 2017

Postby Guillaume Blanchet » Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:47 am

Thanks Tim and Michal!

Was my first encounter despite a lot of researches (yes, before you know what, when and where to look, they are invisible!), old reflexes came first, before rational analysis.
I had a cell phone and even my camera in hand… The snake was just at a totally improbable place, an open area at the limit of a reed swamp. I was thinking it is just a branch before I realized it was a damn snake. Then I was close and the snake alerted. I rushed to it instead of freezing and using my camera. Of course the snake caught me and retreated in its hole :roll:

Terrible decision making I swear, I did not repeat that later on with the other snakes. To cross-answer some other posts, I stick to (or try to…) “observe and shoot in situ pictures FIRST” now, you can see them behave quite naturally in such place (they are used to people), it is really something amazing (and you can later share). Maybe even more amazing than handling a stressed snake trying to save its life.

Anyway, I will try again to find it back next spring! Definitely a gorgeous snake with an amazing body pattern. Will look for Lycodon rufozonatum as well which is described for Beijing area but a strict nocturnal snake.

Regarding Trachemys, I would say it is definitely more than a “pet store” species and that the problem. I found it for 10 RMB (less than 2 euros) in supermarket (babies still in the shipping tubes) alongside common plants and small goldfish. That is how it get sale easily. Also found some on sale in the Beijing aquarium shops…
Turtle shops in pet store have a HUGE diversity of turtles, and I don’t have memory of that one… I do believe they come from South China where you can have cheap outdoor facilities for turtle production.

Next, regarding the lotus, I have not tried myself yet, but I believe this species needs really hot and sunny places to grow well (if I think about the conditions here…)

Best wishes,
Guillaume
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Re: Beijing Summer 2017

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:20 pm

Thanks for your pictures!
Was the anomala inside city boundaries?
Yes: normally it is possible (and a wise thing) to take a picture or two and only then to capture the snake for a close up inspection and a personal satisfaction.
But in few cases the only solution is to capture the snake at first: for instance if we are too close to the snake, and the snake is already in alert mode (if not yet fleeing) and watches at every little movement we make... rare cases but it happens...
In your case, you were already too close, the snake was fleeing, and you were not fast enough to catch it... :lol: ;)
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Re: Beijing Summer 2017

Postby Guillaume Blanchet » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:01 am

Yes it was, Ruggero.
Same park as the rufos...

Another point behind that anomala story: I was not enough prepared at that time. North-east Asia is not a "hot spot" of herping compared to other places, I had little background and no suitable references to start with.

So yes, a big and dark snake with that weird pattern around the tail, in a city park, you really think twice before doing anything. Was wondering can that be very dark tiger keelback or an exotic pet released earlier... before being certain I have an Elaphe sp in front of me. Took me a day to discover it was an anomala.
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Re: Beijing Summer 2017

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:23 am

Guillaume Blanchet wrote:Yes it was, Ruggero.
Same park as the rufos...

Another point behind that anomala story: I was not enough prepared at that time. North-east Asia is not a "hot spot" of herping compared to other places, I had little background and no suitable references to start with.

So yes, a big and dark snake with that weird pattern around the tail, in a city park, you really think twice before doing anything. Was wondering can that be very dark tiger keelback or an exotic pet released earlier... before being certain I have an Elaphe sp in front of me. Took me a day to discover it was an anomala.


Thanks, but I don't understand one thing.
You write of a "dark snake".
But Elaphe anomala is typically very pale in colour.
On the contrary, the dark/black coloured specimens belong to the Elaphe schrenckii group.
Are you sure it was a dark coloured anomala and not a typical schrenckii?
;)
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Re: Beijing Summer 2017

Postby Michal Szkudlarek » Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:31 pm

You write of a "dark snake".

Sorry for offtopic but you like snakes so maybe you will forgive me.
Few days ago I was talking with a Turk and he said that the snakes he sees are black. What species can it be? The place is Antalya region.
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Re: Beijing Summer 2017

Postby Guillaume Blanchet » Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:33 am

@Ruggero

Sorry for the short-cut, it was a dark brown snake to me (darker than the one I saw on-line), not black though, with a clear spotted pattern (blackish brown and yellow) for the last 1/3 of the body (stronger in contrast near the end). Clear darker line behind the eye. Now I really miss a quick snapshot of it :(

I was thinking of E.schrenkii too, but it is not found in Beijing area in the "Snake of China" book. It is found in north-east China and it's replaced by anomala around Beijing. Beside, classic schrenckii are usually black with a pattern running through all the body as you know. But definitely two close species...
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