A graduate of Altai State University made the first introduction of the Red Book lizards in Russia

25 August 2020 Department of Information and Media Communications
A graduate of the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology of Altai State University, biologist and herpetologist Nikolai Krymov, together with Viktor Petrov, Head of the laboratory “Museum of Nature” at the Zoological Center of the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology, Altai State University, are implementing a project to reintroduce the sunwatcher toadhead (Phrynocephalus helioscopus), a species of lizards listed in the Red Book of Russia.

Nikolai Krymov has been breeding reptiles for more than thirty years, giving preference to rare species of reptiles.

“In my collection there are mainly endemics of Australia and New Zealand, mostly geckos. I can say that I have one of the best collections of these reptiles in Russia. Although I also study other species, including those living in Altai Krai. In this regard, two and a half years ago, together with Viktor Petrov, we wrote a program for the conservation and breeding of the sunwatcher toadhead, which was approved by the relevant administrative authorities and they also gave us permission to catch and keep lizards. During the implementation of the program, we received two offspring and are now ready to release young individuals into the wild. In accordance with the permits received from Moscow, this week we will reintroduce and introduce the sunwatcher toadhead, that is, we will release the lizards to the territory where they previously lived and to their new place of residence, respectively”, said the herpetologist.

The introduction of 10 individuals from the Red Book took place today in Pavlovsky district, near Barnaul, and biologists will also reintroduce 10 young lizards this week in the Uglovsky district.

Nikolai Krymov also said that it took only a month to incubate the sunwatcher toadhead in its nursery, while in wildlife at least two months pass from the laying of eggs of this species of lizards before the brood appears. By the way, in Russia this is the first and so far the only case of the release of reptiles into the wild by a private breeder.

“The sunwatcher toadhead is very different from the lizards familiar to the inhabitants of Altai Krai. Its head is flat and rather wide. This species is dominated by a gray color, but there are also individuals with variegated blotches, as well as a kind of undertail in males. In general, this is a small, harmless lizard with many enemies in the wild, so we hope that our project for the reintroduction of the sunwatcher toadhead in Altai Krai will give a positive result. The individuals released into nature should now settle down and prepare for hibernation. How much they succeed - we'll see in the spring! " summed up Viktor Petrov.

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