The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.


ISSN 0268-0130

Early Publication Early Publication

This folder contains papers which have been formatted ready for publication but which have not yet been compiled into an HJ edition.

pdf 01. Killing them softly: a review on snake translocation and an Australian case study


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DOI: will become live on 1/7/2021

pp 118-131

Authors: Jari Cornelis, Tom Parkin & Philip W. Bateman

Abstract: Human-wildlife conflicts with ‘nuisance’ snakes are becoming more frequent around the world as urbanisation continues to encroach on remaining habitats. In an attempt to mitigate this issue, snakes are often translocated in an uncontrolled fashion, with little to no conservation value. To determine the most appropriate methods of translocation we reviewed the available primary literature on studies performing translocations of snakes. We found two types of translocation: long and short-distance. Based on the welfare of the animals involved and difficulty of achieving success with long-distance translocations, we deduced that short-distance translocations are the most favourable. We also reviewed the literature on a third method - repatriating wild populations of snakes with captive-bred or captive-reared individuals, the results
of which were very similar to those of long-distance translocations. In conjunction with a mark recapture study carried out by snake catchers in Darwin, Australia, we use our findings to make suggestions on the most appropriate course of action for the mitigation-based snake catching activities in Australia. The difficulty of ensuring successful outcomes for long distance translocations along with a high mortality rate meant we cannot suggest this as an appropriate method for managing ‘nuisance’ snakes. Instead, we argue that short distance translocations are the most suitable for the welfare of the snakes involved. Nevertheless, no outcome will be more favourable for the snakes than to be simply released within their home range accompanied by a change in attitude of the general public towards a willingness to coexist. Although we
focus primarily on Australia our suggested framework can be applied in any country where there is conflict with snakes. Furthermore, should our suggestions be implemented, they are merely a temporary solution to an ongoing problem and we are in desperate need for further research to devise a long-term management plan.

Keywords: serpentes, translocation, relocation, repatriation, human-wildlife conflict

pdf 02. Potential distribution of the endemic Short-tailed ground agama Calotes minor (Hardwicke & Gray, 1827) in drylands of the Indian sub-continent

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DOI: will become live on 1/7/2021

pp. 132-141

Authors: Ashish Kumar Jangid, Gandla Chethan Kumar, Chandra Prakash Singh & Monika Böhm

Abstract: The Short-tailed ground agama or Hardwicke’s bloodsucker Calotes minor (Hardwicke & Gray, 1827) is known to occur in the Indian subcontinent and is largely confined to arid to semiarid environments, such as hard barren desert and abandoned fields. The precise distribution of this species is largely unknown to date, with few locality records spread biogeographically across Eastern Pakistan, Central and Western India. To improve on the existing spatial knowledge on this species and assess the ability to predict species distributions for taxa with few locality records, we studied the distribution of C. minor using a species distribution modelling framework. Our study allowed us to predict the distribution range of C. minor and help define a niche for this habitat-specific species. Highly probable habitats for C. minor were arid and semi-arid dryland habitats, characterised by plains or less rugged terrain with moderately narrow temperature range, lower aridity index, moderate
to low vegetation index, and wide precipitation range. Furthermore, we report four additional occurrence records of C. minor from central Rajasthan.

Keywords: Agamidae; small sample size; environmental niche modelling; distribution range; arid environment

pdf 03. Repeated use of high risk nesting areas in the European whip snake, Hierophis viridiflavus


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DOI: will go live on 1/7/2021

pp. 142-150

Abstract: Oviparous snakes deposit their egg clutches in sites sheltered from predation and from strong thermal and hydric fluctuations. Appropriate laying sites with optimum thermal and hydric conditions are generally scarce and are not necessarily localised in the home range. Thus, many gravid females undertake extensive trips for oviposition, and many may converge at the best egg laying sites. Dispersal mortality of neonates post-hatchling is also a critical factor. Assessing the parameters involved in this intergenerational trade-off is difficult however, and no study has succeeded in embracing all of them. Here we report data indicating that gravid females of the highly mobile European whip snake, Hierophis viridiflavus exhibit nest site fidelity whereby they repeatedly deposit their eggs in cavities under sealed roads over many decades. These anthropogenic structures provide benefits of relative safety and suitable incubation conditions (due to the protective asphalted layer?), but they expose both females and neonates to high risk of road mortality. Artificial laying sites constructed at appropriate distances from busy roads, along with artificial continuous well protected pathways (e.g. dense hedges) that connect risky laying sites to safer areas, should be constructed.

Keywords: Hierophis viridiflavus, road mortality, cost of reproduction, reptiles, anthropogenic landscape, forest

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Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

Aligning with this change, it is now no longer possible to purchase a subscription that includes a print copy of the HJ.  All members who have existing HJ print subscriptions that remain active as at end June 2020 will receive the full four 2020 print editions.  New subscribers or renewals after this time will only have option to subscribe to the online only subscription package.  Subscription pricing has been amended to reflect the content changes.