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Age, growth and sex determination in a population of smooth snakes, Coronella austriaca in southern England

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Between 1992-2001 a study of individually marked smooth snakes Coronella austriaca was done in Wareham Forest, southern England. The sex of individual snakes was determined using the relationship between tail length and snout-vent length, and the presence/absence of a hemi-penes swelling at the base of the tail. Males had longer tails than females at all ages/sizes and the difference between the sexes increased with increasing snout-vent length. Using multiple captures of known individuals over many years, size related daily growth rates were determined for each sex that enabled growth curves to be produced. The age structure of the population was determined for each complete year of the study. Very few young small snakes were captured each year. Of all the females who were potentially able to breed, only the oldest, and therefore largest, did so.


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