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Yellowfin, or capercaillie (Ophisaurus apodus)

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The yellow-bellied capercaillie, or capercaillie, is a very large legless lizard with a body length of up to 45 - 50 cm and weight up to 450 - 550 g. The yellow-bellied body is characterized by a serpentine body and a long tail, which is 1.5 times longer than the body. The yellow-body body and tail are covered with rhombic scales, and a characteristic deep fold of skin lined with small scales passes along the sides of the body. The scales of the back and tail are ribbed, and on the abdomen it is smooth.

Brown or dirty brown tones with an olive or reddish-brown tinge predominate in the coloration of the upper side of the body of the yellow-pusik. Sometimes rusty speckles are scattered over the body, and the underside of the yellow-pod has a yellowish-brown or meaty color. Young individuals of yellow-bellies in color differ sharply from adults. Their body is earthy in color with a brownish tint. Zigzag dark - brown transverse stripes pass along the trunk and tail, which gradually disappear with age. In case of injury, the tail of the yellow-pod does not completely grow back, but remains short and blunt.

The range of the yellowflood is quite extensive and includes the South Crimea in the west, further through the Caucasus, it continues into the southern and eastern regions of Central Asia and the southern part of Kazakhstan.

Yellowfin lives in river valleys, on the slopes of hills, ravines and foothills, as well as in gardens and even in vegetable gardens. Within the range, it is common, and in places it is numerous. Most willingly settles in habitats with dense grassy vegetation, overgrown with bushes and weeds. It is active mainly in the daytime and at dusk. He swims well and being on the shore of a reservoir, in danger seeks to go into the water. He hides from enemies in heaps of stones, in non-residential burrows of rodents, as well as in dense grass, where he is able to move very quickly with serpentine movements. In open areas, the yellow-pusik is rather helpless, as it creeps awkwardly and rather slowly. The yellowfin is able to climb in search of prey in the sucker trees, tamarisk bushes and grapes.

It leaves for the winter mainly in late September - early November. The yellow-bellied overwinter in the voids between the roots of trees and among stones, as well as in abandoned burrows of rodents and other animals. After wintering, appears in habitual habitats in late February - March. In mountainous areas, where it rises to 2000 m above sea level, it appears later from winter shelters, usually in April. In the hot conditions of Central Asia and South Dagestan, it seems to fall into hibernation.

The yellowfood feeds mainly on insects from the orders of beetles (coleopterans) and orthopterans, mainly locusts. Yellowfood and shellfish are common in the diet. The yellow arthropod also eats other arthropods: millipedes, woodlice, spiders, cockroaches, dipterans, hymenopterans. From vertebrates, lizards and rodents can become their prey, although they do not have a significant role in nutrition.

The mating season and mating occur in April and May. Females lay up to 8 - 10 oval eggs in June - the first half of July. Each egg is covered with a thin leathery shell and has a length of up to 4.6 cm. Young individuals hatch from eggs in July - August. After wintering, in the spring of next year, young individuals have a trunk length with a head of 10 - 11 cm, and a tail - 15 - 18 cm.

From the spindle, which also has a serpentine and legless body, in places where their ranges overlap, it is easy to distinguish by the fold of skin along the sides of the body, as well as by its larger size and color. From any snake, the yellow-bellied, like a lizard, is distinguished by moving eyelids and the same fold of skin on the sides of the body.

Despite the large size, and in length it reaches 125 cm, and the strong jaw, the yellow-bellied, even when caught, does not show aggression towards humans, despite the fact that such loyalty among our lizards is characteristic of very few species.

Yellowfin, or capercaillie, - Ophisaurus apodus (Pall, 1775)

Typical territory: Naryn steppe (North Caucasus).


The ear opening is no smaller than the nostril. On the sides of the cloacal fissure are small papillary rudiments of the hind limbs (Fig. 34 a). Dorsal scales form 12-14 longitudinal rows, they with ribs, especially strongly developed in young. The abdominal scales in young ones also have ribs, in adults they are smooth, they are located in 10 longitudinal rows.

Adults are colored olive brown, dirty yellow or reddish brown. Against this background, dark spots of irregular shape are sometimes scattered. The underside of the body is usually lighter. Young are painted differently: their body is yellowish-gray in color with 16-22 transverse rows of brownish-brown zigzag stripes, continuing on the tail in the form of elongated spots along the spots. The same stripes are located below and on the sides of the head, as well as on its upper part, where they form a peculiar pattern. Traces of transverse stripes are sometimes preserved in individuals up to 200 mm long, i.e., under the age of three years (Tables 10, 4).

Distributed in the Balkan Peninsula, the southern coast of Crimea, Asia Minor, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia and southern Kazakhstan (map 58). The available data on the location of this species in Moldova is doubtful.


Map 58

Lives mainly on foothill plains and river valleys, inhabiting sparse deciduous forests and tugai, forest edges, shrubs, beams, various kinds of thickets and treeless foothill highlands. It is also found in upland semi-deserts and steppes, on rocky slopes with sparse vegetation, often in the immediate vicinity of water, which often goes during the pursuit. Mostly common on cultivated lands - in orchards, vineyards and crops, often close to settlements. In the mountains it is known to an altitude of 2300 m above sea level. It can climb on the branches of bushes and stalks of reeds. In some places in the Caucasus and Central Asia for a day excursion in the spring you can meet up to 80-100 individuals. As shelters, it uses the burrows of various burrowing animals, spaces under stones and between the roots of shrubs. In search of food, he usually does not move further from shelters further than 200-300 m.

After wintering appears in March - mid-April. With the onset of summer heat, beginning in late June, it rarely appears on the surface, falling into a state of summer hibernation, sometimes directly passing into winter. The main food of the yellowfood is made up of insects, mainly beetles (75-100%), among which dung beetles, black beetles, goldfish, bronzes, damselflies, ground beetles, grunts and others. Of other food objects, there are Orthoptera (20-63%), butterfly caterpillars (up to 70%), mollusks, including naked slugs (up to 50%), arachnids (up to 13%), cockroaches (up to 20%), etc. Along with invertebrates, large yellow-bellied animals eat rodents (especially newborns), shrews, lizards, small snakes (eurenises and constrictors) and chicks of birds nesting on the ground and in the bushes. In Dagestan, the occurrence of vertebrates in the diet of the yellowfood does not exceed 27.3%, and in Chechen-Ingushetia - 17.3%. According to some sources, yellowfoods also eat the flesh of falling sweet fruits. 6-10 eggs are laid in mid-June - early July, the average egg size is 20 × 38 mm. Young 100-125 mm long (without tail) hatch from late July to September. Maturity occurs at the age of about four years with a body length of 310-320 mm.

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