ヤモリ大図鑑

ヤモリ下目に属する種を飼育の観点から紹介するシリーズの2巻目である。記載される種は瞼のないヤモリだけ。即ち、ペットとしては一大勢力のトカゲモドキ科は本書では扱われない。それでも大量の興味深い種の写真と解説が載せられており、眺めているだけで楽しい。ヤモリが好きな人には一押しな本である。それ以外に特に言うことは無く、これだけではアレなので、以下は最近僕が購入したヘビに関する話をする。

先日、二匹目のヘビを購入した。爬虫類ペットの代表格であるコーンスネークが気になっていて、行きつけの爬虫類店に (モルフ、性格的な意味で) 良い個体が入らないかと窺っていると、同じナミヘビ科に属するカリフォルニア・キングスネークの素晴らしい個体が入荷して来て、迷わず購入した。近縁の別個体ではあるが、キングスネークはヘビ飼育を始める際に、ブラジル・レインボーボアと最後まで迷ったヘビであった。

ナミヘビ科は日本人が一般的にイメージする、いわゆる「ヘビ」の仲間である。僕たちの馴染みのシマヘビやアオダイショウ、ヤマカガシがここに属する。余談ではあるが、現代では神社などで祀られることもある「白蛇」はナミヘビ科のテキサス・ラットスネークかブラック・ラットスネークのリューシスティックというモルフであることが多いらしい。こいつらはまるで白磁のように見事に真っ白になる。リューシスティックとはアルビノとは違って色素発現能力そのものは有するものの、発現量が少なくなる遺伝形質だそうだ。なのでアルビノと異なり、目は黒い。コーンスネークではアルビノと何かを併せ持つと白っぽい発色になるが、真っ白とはならないようだ。コーンスネークのモルフは複雑怪奇なので安易に踏み込めない。日本古来の白蛇、天然記念物でもある岩国のシロヘビはアオダイショウのアルビノであり、赤目である。多分岩国とは別系統由来だと思うが、アオダイショウのアルビノは普通に入手でき、行きつけの爬虫類店にも一匹いて、黄みがかった白である。

キングスネークとレインボーボアの両方を飼っていると、同じヘビでも生態が大きく異なるのが面白い。ボアと比べて、キングスネーク (ナミヘビ科の他の種も多分) は代謝が随分速く、活動量が多い。ボアの方は、給餌後約5日で排泄を一回だけして、その後餌を探すような動きを少し見せるが、それまでは居心地のいい場所で休んでいることが多い。キングスネークは給餌した翌日と翌々日に分けて排泄し、その後はケージ内を探索する時間が増える。シェルター内から頭だけチョコっと出して周囲を覗っている姿も可愛い。

その名前に「キング」と付く理由は、野生下で同種、別種を問わずヘビを捕食するからである。ヘビ食のヘビの全てに「キング」と付くわけではないが、「キング」と付くヘビはヘビ食であるそうだ。キングスネークの仲間は何でも食べるので「ヘビも」という方が正しいが、ヘビはそのダイエットの大きな割合を占めるようだ。毒に対する耐性も持っていて、ガラガラヘビも当然捕食する (捕食シーンはyoutubeなどで見ることができる)。自身より大きいヘビも獲物としか見ておらず、臆せず襲い、絞めて窒息死させ飲み込む。詳細は忘れたが、アメリカの或る大学の調査によれば、体重当たりの絞力はヘビの中でも最大級らしく、同じ体重 (か断面積、何方か忘れた) のラットスネーク(上に挙げたシロヘビの種)の2倍の力で絞めることができる。ヘビも絞め殺すために、肋骨周りの筋肉を巧みに動員しているらしい。僕のヘビは未だ菜箸サイズだが、手に巻き付けてピンクマウスを給餌していると、その大きさにしては中々の力で絞めてくる。育っても最大2m程度(コーンスネークやアオダイショウと同程度)なので人間が絞殺されることは無い。筈である。

十分丈夫と言われるコーンスネークと比べても拒食知らずでより丈夫なキングスネークがコーンほど流通しない理由は幾つかあって、飼い主を噛むケースが多いのも原因と思われる。決して臆病であったり威嚇しているわけではなく、目に前に食べられそうなものが有るから先ず噛んでみる。ただ食欲が過ぎるのである。自分の尻の方に噛みつくケースも有るらしい。この頭の悪さが実に良い。サイズが余りに違うからか、残念なことに僕は未だ噛まれていない。

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