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The life-history of British serpents and their local distribution in the British Isles (1901) (14741012006)


The life-history of British serpents and their local distribution in the British Isles (1901) (14741012006)



Identifier: lifehistoryofb00leig (find matches)
Title: The life-history of British serpents and their local distribution in the British Isles
Year: 1901 (1900s)
Authors: Leighton, Gerald (Gerald Rowley), b. 1868
Subjects: Snakes Reptiles
Publisher: Edinburgh and London, W. Blackwood and sons
Contributing Library: American Museum of Natural History Library
Digitizing Sponsor: Biodiversity Heritage Library

Text Appearing Before Image:
have had this species in her mind whenwriting the above-quoted sentence. At any rate, Ihave not found it to be the case in adders, unless theadder population of Herefordshire and Monmouth-shire is assumed to contain a very large proportionof invalids, which is hardly likely to be the case, con-sidering the large size they grow to in these counties.My experience with adders is that the slough is moreoften cast in pieces than whole. The whole processresolves itself into two distinct phases — first, theseparating of the external cuticle from the under-lying skin; and second, the dropping or leavingbehind of the portion to be cast off. The first is aphysiological process, explained before; the second isa mechanical process, dependent on external circum-stances, over which the snake may have no control.^I regard it asTalmost accidental, when the slough onceis loosened from the body, whether it comes off wholeor in separate pieces. In other words, it all depends 1 British Reptiles, p. 27,
Text Appearing After Image:
Fig. 12.—Slough of an Adder. HIBERNATION AND SLOUGHINCx. 73 on what the reptile happens to rub itself against in itseffort to rid itself of what has become an incubus.Should the adder happen to find itself evenly wedgedin between two stones, or to have equable pressureexerted upon its sides in crawling through a thickbush, then the slough will peel off entire. But theslough is a most fragile and delicate substance, ex-tremely easily torn, and it must very frequentlyhappen that at one stage or other of the sheddinga portion will be ruptured by catching against somecontiguous thorn or stone or bramble. When thistakes place the resulting slough will not be in onepiece but in sections. I have captured a large numberof adders while they were sloughing, and in nine outof ten cases the slough was torn partially off beforethe process was completed. I think this a very usualoccurrence, quite apart from the healthy condition orotherwise of the adder. Adders cast their sloughs,as a rule, at le





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