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Life history, population characteristics and conservation of the Hungarian meadow viper (Vipera ursinii rakosiensis)

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During a continuous population study of Vipera ursinii rakosiensis, 79 specimens were measured in the field, between 1993 and 1997. Body length and body mass of six juveniles were compared to those of 43 more specimens which were kept during their first winter in terraria. Significant differences were found in favour of the juveniles kept in captivity, whereas a comparison with earlier data from 1953 showed a strong decline in juvenile body mass. Based on body size, three age classes could be distinguished in the study population. The annual activity and reproductive cycle of the Hungarian meadow viper is described for the first time. A comparison to other European populations of Orsini′s viper revealed a remarkably higher clutch size in Vipera ursinii rakosiensis, which is explained by the larger body size of females in the particular population.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Baross u. 13, H-1088 Budapest, Hungary; 2: Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society, Költo"u. 21, H-1121 Budapest, Hungary


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