Snakes in Uzbekistan.

The snake is one of the most unusual creatures on Earth. Its peculiar appearance, a unique mode of moving, its specific behavior and, in some cases, venomous bite have long attracted human interest and attention. Many nations have created legends, myths and tales about snakes. These stories are embroiled with fads and fancies, blind fear and ophiolatry. Moreover, the respectful attitude towards the snake is mirrored even in the Eastern horoscope.

There are more than twenty species of snakes in the territory of Uzbekistan. All of them are zoophagous. Some snakes, such as biunt-nosed vipers, prefer waiting for their prey at a creek or watering place, whereas others are active hunters. Mountain racers, for instance, tirelessly climb up the trees and bushes searching for birds' nests with eggs or nestlings. Water snakes are real experts in exploring the water element. Seizing a fish, the reptile tries to take it out of the water as soon as possible, otherwise the snake may have to "kiss it goodbye," since the water snake can hold its breath only for few minutes.
If you see a bulge or two on the snake's body, you may be sure that the previous hunt has been a success, because reptiles are swailowers. Snakes prefer digesting somewhere in a nook, in peace and quiet. There is another reason explaining the snake's gravitation towards seclusion. The snake casts off its old skin several times a year. The exuviation lasts for several days, and the snake feels helpless and uncomfortable during this period. The reptile's eyesight is poor, because its eye shields grow turbid. When the exuviation is over, the snake appears in all its beauty, with a new and shiny skin.

Since the body temperature of snakes is not constant and depends on the ambient temperature, the reptiles have to adapt to it. Thus, the daily activity of the reptiles dramatically changes from season to season. In spring and autumn, when it is cool, snakes are active in the daytime. But in summer when it is hot, they go hunting in the twilight or at night to save themselves from the burning sun. In the cold season, there is nothing else left for them to do but to go into hibernation. Snakes hide deep in secret places to protect themselves from becoming a trophy for other "hunters".
Snakes such as mamushi, for instance, inhabit all the native zones of our country - from the plains to the mountain ranges. However, some snakes are "particular specialists" if we mean their habitats. The sand boa lives only in the sand deserts, as we may guess from its name. It can dig itself into the sand so deep that only its eyes remain on the surface. Unlike other snakes, whose line of vision is orientated horizontally, this snake's eyes look upwards. Such a perfect disguise helps the sand boa wait unti! a reckless rodent runs by. One rush is enough for the snake's muscular body to wind around the unfortunate wreck. No chance to break away.
Use of venom is another way to get food. Venom helps immobilize the prey by one bite only. The phoorsas, Central Asia cobras, Orsini's vipers and the blunt-nosed vipers are extremely dangerous for man. If you plan to visit potential habitats of these reptiles, you should carefully watch where you are going and use protective footwear. Observance of these simple rules will save you from unpleasant surprises.
Though seemingly clumsy, snakes can be very quick and agile. For instance, the arrow snake can reach an unexpectedly high speed. It got its name because of its long and thin body and quick-as-lightning movements. Popular beliefs accredited the arrow snake with an ability to make long jumps and even to pierce the body of it prey.
People often treat snakes in a negative way. Such attitude is conditioned by the lack of knowledge and by the subconscious fear of being bitten by a venomous snake. However, both humans and snakes are part of wildlife. Snakes play a very important role in maintaining the balance of nature. They exterminate hordes of rodents, which damage fields and transmit many infectious diseases.
Due to the development of new lands and their transformation into agricultural holdings, many species of snakes have become red-listed and need protection.

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