Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Amphibians and Reptiles in the Subterranean Cavities of the Crimean Mountains

Ilya S. Turbanov, Oleg Vitaljevich Kukushkin, Robert S. Vargovitsh


The current paper summarizes old and recent herptiles records in the karst cavities of the Crimean Mountains, highlighting also the means of entry of poikilothermic vertebrates into the karst. It was found that the underground habitats are on purpose utilized by some amphibians and reptiles, characterized by mostly crepuscular and/or night activity as well as by the pronounced ability to move on the vertical surfaces and, in many cases, by the synanthropization tendency. One of the prerequisites for the animals’ entry to the karst might be their habitat’s conditions such as arid climate, absence of the forest, harsh winters at the upper distribution limit.


Amphibia; Reptilia; karst; subterranean habitats; Crimean Peninsula

Full Text:



Afrasiab S. R. and Mohamad S. I. (2009), «A study on cave-dwelling geckos in Iraq, with the description of a new species from Saffine mountain (Reptilia; Gekkonidae)», Zool. Middle East, 47, 49 – 56.

Alekseev E. V. (2008), Bloodsucking and Venomous Arthropods of the Crimea, DIAYPI, Simferopol [in Russian].

Amelichev G. N., Klimchouk A. B., Tokarev S. V., and Memetova E. I. (2014), «The Cadaster of karst caverns of the Crimea: past, present and future», Geopolit. Ékogeodin. Reg., 10(1), 345 – 351 [in Ukrainian].

Averinov A. O. (2001), «New records of proteid salamanders (Amphibia, Caudata) from the Pliocene of Ukraine and lower pleistocene of Moldova», Vestn. Zool., 35(1), 43 – 46.

Balogová M.; Apfelová M.; Flajc T.; Jablonski D.; Kautman J.; Krišovsky P.; Krištín A.; Papáč V.; Puchala P.; Urban P.; and Uhrin M. (2015); «Distribution of the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) in Slovakia»; Folia Faun. Slovaca; 20(1); 67 – 93.

Balogová M., Jelić D., Kyselová M., and Uhrin M. (2017), «Subterranean systems provide a suitable overwinterings habitat for Salamandra salamandra», Int. J. Speleol., 46(3), 321 – 329.

Bauer A. M., Pauwels O. S. G., and Chanhome L. (2002), «A new species of cave-dwelling Cyrtodactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Thailand», Nat. Hist. J. Chulalongkorn Univ., 2(2), 19 – 29.

Birstein Ya. A. (1963), «Some results of the study of subterranean fauna of the Crimea», in: Collection of scientific papers of the complex karst expedition of Academy of Sciences of UkrSSR. Vol. 1. Investigation of the karst of the Crimea, Izd. AN UkrSSR, Kiev, pp. 123 – 134 [in Russian].

Brauner A. (1904), «A brief guide of reptiles and amphibians of the Crimea and steppe belt of European Russia», in: Bulletin of the Crimean Alpine club. Vols. 3 – 9, A. F. Sokolovsky’s Tipo-Lithography, Odessa, 1 – 64 [in Russian].

Burchak-Abramovich M. O. (1936), «Remains of Pelobates fuscus (Laur.) from the karst cave at Karabi-Yaila (the Crimea)», in: Collection of scientific paper of Zoological Museum of Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Vol. 16 (Pr. Inst. Zool. Biol., 11), 129 – 133 [in Ukrainian].

Caves. Information retrieval system. (accessed on August 17, 2018).

Dublyansky V. N. (1966), «Age of the deep karst cavities of the Mountain Crimea», Peshchery, 6(7), 70 – 81 [in Russian].

Dublyansky V. N. (1977), Karst Caves and Mines of the Mountain Crimea (Genesis, Sediments, Hydrogeological Significance), Nauka, Leningrad. otd., Leningrad [in Russian].

Ellis M. and Pauwels O. S. (2012), «The bent-toed geckos (Cyrtodactylus) of the caves and karst of Thailand», Cave Karst Sci., 39(1), 16 – 22.

Esmaeili-Rineh S., Akmali V., Fathipour F., Heidari N., and Rastegar-Pouyani N. (2016), «New distribution records of cave-dwelling gekkonid lizards (Sauria, Gekkonidae and Phyllodactylidae) in the Zagros Mountains of Iran», Subterr. Biol., 18, 39 – 47.

Fordham R. A. (1985), «Live Litoria raniformis (Anura: Hylidae) in New Zealand caves: a ‘smuggler’s’ dispersal route?» N. Zeeland J. Zool., 12(4), 561 – 563.

Frost D. R. (2018), Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Ver. 6.0, (accessed on August 17, 2018).

Garrido-García J. A., Schreur G., and Pleguezuelos J. M. (2013), «Occasional bat predation by the horseshoe whip snake (Reptilia, Colubride)», Galemys, 25, 59 – 61.

Gromov I. M. (1961), «Fossil Upper Quaternary rodents of the premontane Crimea», Nauch. Tr. Komis. Izuch. Chetvert. Period, 17, 1 – 190 [in Russian].

Ianc R., Cicort-Lucaciu A.-Ş., Ilieş D., and Kovács É.-H. (2012), «Note on the presence of Salamandra salamandra (Amphibia) in caves from Padurea Craiului Mountains, Romania», N.-W. J. Zool., 8(1), 202 – 204.

Kaňuch P. and Balaž P. (2005), «Bat as a prey of Elaphe longissima (Laurenti, 1768)», Herpetozoa, 18(1/2), 92 – 93.

Koller K. (2017), «Undeground occurences of three species of amphibians and reptiles with special emphasis on Rana latastei (Amphibia: Anura)», N.-W. J. Zool., 13(1), 176 – 179.

Kondaraki V. Ch. (1875), Universal Description of the Crimea. Part 7. Herptiles (Reptilia s. amphibia), V. Velling printing house, St. Pertersburg, pp. 35 – 37 [in Russian].

Kotenko T. I. (2010), «Amphibians and reptiles of the Crimea», in: Scientific Notes of the ‘Cape Martyan’ Nature Reserve. Vol. 1. Nikitsky Botan. Garden — National Scientific Center, Yalta, pp. 171 – 224 [in Russian].

Kotenko T. I. and Kukushkin O. V. (2010), «Annotated lists of amphibians and reptiles of the Crimean Nature Reserves», in: Scientific Notes of the ‘Cape Martyan’ Nature Reserve. Vol. 1. Nikitsky Botan. Garden — National Scientific Center, Yalta, pp. 225 – 261 [in Russian].

Koynova T., Tzankov N., Popgeorgiev G., Naumov B., and Natchev N. (2017), «A new distribution record of the Kotschy’s Gecko (Mediodactylus kotschyi) from inland north-eastern Bulgaria», Herpetol. Notes, 10, 1 – 2.

Kukushkin O. V. (2004), «Distribution, habitat allocation and abundance of the Kotschy’s (Crimean) gecko, Cyrtopodion kotschyi danilewskii (Strauch, 1887) (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae) in the Southern Crimea», in: Karadag. History, Geology, Botany, Zoology. Vol. 1, SONAT, Simferopol, pp. 367 – 396 [in Russian].

Kukushkin O. V. (2005), «A duration of winter diapause and peculiarities of biology of the Crimean Kotschy’s gecko (Mediodactylus kotschyi danilewskii) during a hibernation period. Current issues of ecology and zoology», in: Proc. of the International scientific commemorative conference dedicated to the 140th anniversary of I. I. Mechnikov Odessa National University and the 120th anniversary of the birth of prof. I. I. Puzanov, 22 – 25 April 2005, Odessa, Feniks, Odessa, pp. 148 – 151 [in Russian].

Kukushkin O. V. (2009), «About inhabitation of Kotschy’s Naked-toed Gecko, Mediodactylus kotschyi danilewskii (Reptila: Sauria: Gekkonidae), in the middle forest belt of southern macroslope of the Crimean Mountains», Tr. Ukr. Gerpetol. Obshch., 2, 27 – 36 [in Russian].

Kukushkin O. V. (2007), «Data on cold tolerance during hibernation in the Crimean Kotschyi’s [sic!] Gecko», in: Programme & Abstr. of the First Mediterranean Herpetol. Congress (CMH1), 16 – 20 April 2007, Marrakech, pp. 88 – 89.

Kukushkin O. V. and Kuschan N. B. (2015), «Materials to the study of Karelin’s newt (Amphibia, Caudata, Salamandridae) in the Crimea», in: Proc. of the 2nd All-Russian Sci.-Pract. Conf. «Sustainable development of specially protected natural territories». Vol. 2, 2 – 4 December 2015, Donizdat, Sochi, pp. 141 – 151 [in Russian].

Kukushkin O. V., Petrov B. P., Nazarov R. A., and Melnikov D. A. (2016), «The problem of a biogeographical status of two reptiles with narrow distribution in the Crimean Mountains and the importance of Cape Aiya karst caves for its solution», in: Proc. of 2nd All-Russian conference of young scientists «Biospeleological Studies in Russia and adjacent countries», 1 – 2 December 2016, Moscow, Filigran’, Yaroslavl, pp. 56 – 69 [in Russian].

Kukushkin O. V. and Tsvelykh A. N. (2004), «Distribution and ecological-morphological peculiarities of the leopard snake, Elaphe situla (Serpentes, Colubridae), in the Crimea», Zool. Zh., 83(4), 439 – 448 [in Russian].

Lunghi E., Manenti R., and Ficetola G. F. (2015), «Seasonal variation in microhabitat of salamaders: environmental variation or shift of habitat selection?» PeerJ.

Manenti R., Ficetola G. F., Bianchi B., and De Bernardi F. (2009), «Habitat features and distribution of Salamandra salamandra in underground springs», Acta Herpetol., 4, 143 – 151.

Manenti R., Ficetola G. F., Marieni A., and De Bernardi F. (2011), «Caves as breeding sites for Salamandra salamandra: habitat selection, larval development and conservation issues», N.-W. J. Zool., 7, 304 – 309.

Matyushkin B. (2010), «From the order Tailed Amphibians», Svet: Ukr. Speleol. Assots. J., 1(36), 48 – 52 [in Russian].

Maksimovich G. A. (1963), Principles of Karstology. Vol. 1. Issues of the Karst Morphology, Speleology and Hydrogeology of Karst, Perm. Knizh. Izd., Perm’ [in Russian].

McClur H. E., Lim B.-L., and Winn S. E. (1967), «Fauna of the Dark Cave, Batu Caves, Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysia», Pacific Insects, 9(3), 399 – 428.

Muratov M. V. and Nikolaev N. I. (1940), «Quaternary history and development of relief of the Mountain Crimea», Uch. Zap. MGU, 48, 65 – 73 [in Russian].

Muratov M. V. (1954), «About Miocene and Pliocene history of development of the Crimean peninsula», Byull. Mosk. Obshch. Estestvoisp. Otd. Geol., 29(1), 4 – 20 [in Russian].

Muratov M. V. (1960), A Brief Essay of Geological Structure of the Crimean Peninsula, Gos. Nauch.-Tekh. Izd. Liter. po Geol. i Okhrane Mineral. Resursov, Moscow [in Russian].

Naucke T. J. (2002), «Leishmaniose, eine Tropenkrankheit und deren Vektoren (Diptera, Psychodidae, Phlebotominae) in Mitteleuropa», Denisia 6. Zugleich Kataloge des OÖ Landesmuseums, 184, 163 – 178.

Ostrovskikh S. V. (2012), «Amphibians (Amphibia) and reptiles (Reptilia)», in: I. N. Safronov, P. I. Bukharitsyn, and A. V. Barmin (eds.), Contemporary State and Long-Term Changes of the Environment at Bogdinsko-Baskunchakskyi Reserve Territory, Tsaritsyn, Volgograd, pp. 174 – 182 [in Russian].

Ostrovskikh S. V., Pestov M. V., and Gnetneva A. N. (2015), «Reptiles (Reptilia) of the ‘Utrish’ Reserve and adjacent areas», in: G. N. Ogureeva and K. B. Gongalsky (eds.), Protection of Biota in the State Nature Reserve «Utrish». Sci. Works. Vol. 3, Poligraf-YUG, Maykop, pp. 272 – 296 [in Russian].

Parin N. V. (1983), «Noemachelius (Troglocobitis) starostini sp. n. — new cave fish from subterranean waters of Kugitangtau (Turkmenia)», Zool. Zh., 62(1), 83 – 89 [in Russian].

Perfiliev P. P. (1941), «Data on the sandfly fauna of the USSR», Nauch. Zap. VMA im. S. M. Kirova RKKA, 25, 272 – 283 [in Russian].

Pokinchereda V. F. (1989), «Records of amphibians in caves and galleries of the Carpathians», in: Abstrs. of the 7th Herpetol. Conf. «The problems of herpetology», 26 – 29 September 1989, Naukova Dumka, Kiev, p. 198 [in Russian].

Puzanov I. I. (1931), «Preliminary results of the study of vertebrates fauna of the Crimean Reserve», in: Collection of the papers on the study of the fauna of Crimean State Reserve, Gosmedizdat, Moscow – Leningrad, pp. 5 – 38 [in Russian].

Pysanets E. and Kukushkin O. (2016), Amphibians of the Crimea, NAS of Ukraine, National Museum of Natural History, Kyiv [in Ukrainian; in English].

Ratnikov V. Yu. (2010), «A Review of Tailed Amphibian Remains from Late Cenozoic sediments of the East European Plain», Russ. J. Herpetol., 17(1), 59 – 66.

Ratnikov V. Yu. (2015), «Squamate reptiles from Upper Pleistocene deposites of the cave Emine-Bair-Khosar in the Crimea», in: Proc. of 1st All-Russian conference of young scientists «Biospeleology of the Caucasus and other regions of Russia», 3 – 4 December 2015, Moscow, Kostromskoy pechat. dom, Kostroma, pp. 64 – 65 [in Russian].

Rivera X., Carranza S., Amat F., Romano A., and Sotgiu G. (2011), «On the presence of Hemidactylus turcicus (Linnaeus, 1758) in caves and mines of the island of Sardinia, Italy», Buttl. Soc. Cat. Herpetol., 19, 61 – 65.

Sket B. (2008), «Can we agree on an ecological classification of subterranean animals?» J. Nat. Hist., 42(21 – 22), 1549 – 1563.

Sket B. (2017), «Discoveries the black proteus Proteus angiunus parkelj (Amphibia: Caudata)», Natura Sloveniae, 19(1), 27 – 28.

Sharygin S. A. (1998), «To the study of amphibians of Southern Coast of the Crimea», in: Discovery of diversity of animal kingdom: Scientific papers of Zoological museum of I. I. Mechnikov, Odessa State University, Vol. 3, pp. 51 – 55 [in Russian].

Sotgiu G., Angelini C., Bovero S., and Tessa G. (2017), «Unusual egg deposition sites of Euproctus platycephalus (Gravenhorst, 1829)», Herpetozoa, 30(1/2), 66 – 68.

Szczerbak N. N. (1966), Amphibians and reptiles of the Crimea. Herpetologia Taurica, Naukova Dumka, Kiev [in Russian].

Szczerbak N. N. (1984), «Amphibians and reptiles of Karadag», in: Study of the fauna and abundance of terrestrial vertebrates of Karadag (final report). Annals of Karadag State Reserve of Academy of the Sciences of UkrSSR, 1(5), 4 – 32 [in Russian].

Taraschuk V. I. (1959), «Amphibians and reptiles», in: Fauna of Ukraine. Vol. 7. Izd. AN UkrSSR, Kyiv [in Ukrainian].

Trajano E. and de Carvalho M. R. (2017), «Towards a biologically meaningful classification of subterranean organisms: a critical analysis of the Schiner-Racovitza system from a historical perspective, difficulties of its application and implications for conservation», Subterr. Biol., 22, 1 – 26.

Turbanov I. S., Oksinenko P. V., and Kukushkin O. V. (2015), «Records of reptiles in karst cavities of Mountain Crimea», in: Proc. of 1st All-Russian conference of young scientists «Biospeleology of the Caucasus and other regions of Russia», 3 – 4 December 2015, Moscow, Kostromskoy pech. dom, Kostroma, 90 – 94 [in Russian].

Turbanov I. S., Palatov D. M., and Golovatch S. I. (2016a), «The state of the art of biospeleology in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union: A review of cave (endogean) invertebrate fauna. 1. Introduction — Crustacea», Entomol. Rev., 96(7), 926 – 963.

Turbanov I. S., Palatov D. M., and Golovatch S. I. (2016b), «The state of the art of biospeleology in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union: A review of cave (endogean) invertebrate fauna. 2. Arachnida — Acknowledgements», Entomol. Rev., 96(9), 1297 – 1333.

Turbanov I. S., Palatov D. M., and Golovatch S. I. (2016c), «The state of art in biospeleology in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union: A review of the cave (endogean) invertebrate fauna. 3. References», Entomol. Rev., 96(9), 1334 – 1358.

Uetz P., Freed P., and Hošek J. (2018), The Reptile Database, (accessed on August 17, 2018).

Vakhrushev B. A. and Amelichev G. N. (2001), «On the possibility of glaciation of the Crimean mountains», Fiz. Geogr. Geomorfol., 40, 134 – 153 [in Russian].

Vakhrushev B. A. (2009), «Regionalization of karst of the Crimean Peninsula», Speleol. Karstol., 3, 39 – 46 [in Russian].

Vignoli L., Caldera F., and Bologna M. A. (2008), «Spatial niche of the Italian cave salamander, Speleomantes italicus (Dunn, 1923) (Plethodontidae, Amphibia), in subterranean system of Central Italy», Ital. J. Zool., 75(1), 59 – 65.

Voinstvensky M. A. (2006), «Diaries of Crimean expeditions in 1957 and 1958», in: M. M. Beskaravayniy (ed.): Avifauna of Ukraine. Vol. 3, pp. 2 – 40 [in Russian].

Vremir M. M. and Ridush B. (2005), «The Emine-Bair-Khosar ‘Mega Trap’ (Ukraine)», Mitteilungen der Kommiss. fur Quartärforsch. Österreich. Akad. der Wissensch., 14, 235 – 239.

Yena V. G., Yena Al. V., and Yena An. V. (2004), Protected Landscapes of Taurida [in Russian], Biznes-Inform, Simferopol.

Zagorodniuk I. (2004), Cave Fauna of Ukraine. Ser. Proc. of the Theriological School. No. 6, Kyiv [in Ukrainian].

Zhou Z., Lau M., and Nguyen T. Q. (2012), «Orthriophis moellendorfi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012», DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012-1.RLTS.T192040A2031924.en



  • There are currently no refbacks.