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Chinese scientists breed rare snakes

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-10-24 13:45

CHENGDU — Chinese scientists have successfully bred pearl-banded rat snakes, an endangered species native to China.

This is the first time China has bred the species since it was discovered a century ago.

The one-month-old snakes are about 33 centimeters long with dark green skin. The black stripes that have given them their name resemble black pearls.

The species was discovered by an American biologist in 1929, but disappeared until the 1980s. Over the past decade, fewer than 30 live pearl-banded rat snakes have been found, and the only pair in captivity was captured in Labahe Nature Reserve in Sichuan's Ya'an city in 2014.

Scientists at Chengdu Institute of Biology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences waited three years before the pair laid eggs in late July, and two months later, the baby snakes were born.

According to Ding Li, deputy researcher at Chengdu Institute of Biology, breeding the snakes marked an important step in understanding the mysterious species and proved China has made great achievements in ecological protection.

Ding said the snakes will start to hibernate in about a month.

Native to China, pearl-banded rat snakes share the same habitat with wild giant pandas. They live in forests in western Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces at altitudes between 1,600 and 2,700 meters above sea level.

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