Mongolia Monday- Reptiles And Amphibians

Central Asian Viper (Gloydius halys)
Central Asian Viper (Echis caranatus)

I’m definitely more of a mammal person, but when out in the field I take photos of anything that moves and a lot that doesn’t.

There aren’t many reptiles and amphibians in Mongolia, but I’ve seen and gotten photos of a few and here they are, starting at the top with one of the four venomous snakes in Mongolia, the Central Asian viper. This is a smallish one and was found down from the research camp at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve near the spring. One of the scientists coaxed it up onto the stick and brought it to camp so we could all see what one looked like. It was the first time I’d seen a snake in all my trips to Mongolia. Roy Chapman Andrews, in one of his books, describes what was dubbed the Viper Camp when he was in the Gobi. I’ll post an excerpt from that next week.

Below is a very common species of lizard, the Toad-headed agama. I usually see a few on each trip, generally at Ikh Nart.

Toad-headed agama lizard (Phrynocephalus versicolor)
Toad-headed agama lizard (Phrynocephalus versicolor)

The species name “versicolor” is because, even at a single location like Ikh Nart, you can see this kind of color variation…

Toad-headed agama
Toad-headed agama

Amphibians are not the first animal that comes to mind when one thinks of Mongolia, but they’re present, even in the Gobi. I photographed these toads at Orog Nuur, a Gobi lake, in July 2010. I believe they are Mongolian toads (Pseudepidalea raddei).

Mongolian toad (Pseudepidalea raddei)
Four Mongolian toads (Pseudepidalea raddei) (tentative ID)

And saw one again in the wetland area at Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve in August 2011, which is mountain steppe.

Mongolian toad, Gun-Galuut
Mongolian toad, Gun-Galuut (tentative ID)

I’ve seen one frog once and not far from where I photographed the above toad, at Gun-Galuut. I believe this is a Siberian Wood Frog (Rana amurensis). Is that a cool common name or what?

Siberian Wood Frog (Rana amurensis)
Siberian Wood Frog (Rana amurensis) (tentative ID)

Both the toad and the frog are listed by the IUCN as species of Least Concern “…in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.”

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