Friday, August 31, 2012

Reptiles of Aland - 2002

Aland Post issued the stamp set features reptiles series on January 2, 2002. The issue stamps composed of two postage stamps depicted the Smooth snake (Coronella austricia) and the Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus).
Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca)

Coronella austriaca ( smooth snake[) is a harmless colubrid species found in northern and central Europe. but also as far east as northern Iran. In Finland, the species is found only on the Åland Islands. Colubridae is the largest snake family. Colubrid species are found on every continent except Antarctica.

Both sexes grow to an average length of about 50 cm .The head has a rostral scale that is at least as deep as it is wide, creating a triangular indentation between the internasals. The top of the head is covered with 9 large plates. Dorsally, the head has a somewhat heart-shaped marking that resembles an inverted V posteriorly. This shape is where the name Coronella comes from, which means coronet (a small crown).

The color pattern consists of a brown, gray of reddish ground color with two rows of small, rather indistinct dark spots running down the back towards the tail. In some cases, each pair of spots may be united towards the neck area, forming a series of cross-bars over the back. There is also a very indistinct series of dark spots running along each of the flanks.

A relatively thick dark stripe extends from the nostril along the side of the head to a little beyond the neck, only being interrupted by the eye. The upper labials are whitish, grayish-white or light brown, sometimes with darker spots. The tongue is reddish brown or dark red.

Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus)

The Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus) is a newt in the family Salamandridae, found across Europe and parts of Asia.The range of the Great Crested Newt extends from Great Britain and Brittany in the west across much of Europe north of the Alps and the Black Sea.

Since the 1940s, populations of Great Crested Newts have declined in most of Europe due to loss of habitat. Great Crested Newts normally live on land but breed in ponds and pools.

Males can be distinguished from females by the presence of a jagged crest during the breeding season.Females lack a crest, but have a yellow-orange stripe along the lower edge of their tail and often a marked orange stripe along the top of the lower back and tail

Great Crested Newts have dark grey-brown backs and flanks, and are covered with darker coloured spots so that they appear almost black in colour. Their undersides are either yellow or orange-coloured and are covered in large black blotches, which have a unique pattern in each individual.

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