A New Look

Over the next few weeks this blog will undergo some renovations. We will be adding species accounts for all of the T&T species. The photos and text from http://trinidad-tobagoherps.org/ will be edited and added to this site. Eventually this site will then have the address http://trinidad-tobagoherps.org/ JCM

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Yellow-tailed Cribo, Drymarchon corais (Family Colubridae)

Coluber corais Boie 1827: 537
Spilotes corais — Duméril & Bibron 1854: 223 (?)
Geoptyas collaris Steindachner 1867: 271
Geoptyas flaviventris Steindachner 1867
Drymarchon corais corais - Stejneger 1899
Phrynonax angulifer Werner 1923
Drymarchon corais — Wallach et al. 2014: 244

Other Common Names: Clibo or cribo noir, Yellow-tailed cribo.Size. 3 m TL. Diagnosis. The only Trinidad and Tobago snake with 17 scale rows at mid-body; scales have apical pits (difficult to see without magnification) a grey-brown dorsum that lightens posteriorly (yellow tail), ventrals about 195, subcaudals about 78; scales on the crown outlined in dark pigment and the labial seams outlined with brown; venter yellow.  Distribution. A widespread species found from the southern United States southward through Mexico, Central America, and southward to Argentina. On Trinidad and Tobago is is associated with forests but uncommon. Life History. A diurnal, forest snake. Diet includes virtually any vertebrate that can be overpowered and many invertebrates. Reproduction Females produce clutches of 9–12 eggs. 

Variegated Snail-eating Snake, Dipsas variegata (Family Dipsadidae)

Leptognathus variegatus Duméril, Bibron & Duméril 1854: 477
Dipsas variegata - Gomes 1918: 525
Leptognathus robusta Müller 1924: 155
Dipsas variegata variegata — Peters 1960: 132

Until recently, all references to Dipsas on Trinidad have referred to Dipsas trinitatis Parker. Murphy and Rutherford (2014) report the presence of Dipsas variegata on TrinidadIts presence is based upon a single female specimen, identified as Dipsas trinitatis, was found in the collection of The National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad & Tobago and now stored in The University of the West Indies Zoology Museum (UWIZM). Its large size (796 mm total length, 607 mm SVL), bulky head, tall upper labials, an eye diameter that is about equal to the eye-mouth distance readily distinguish it from its congener, Dipsas trinitatis. The specimen agrees well with all 16 diagnostic characters for the species listed by Harvey and Embert (2008). Collection data accompanying the specimen reports it locality as Macqueripe Bay on the north coast of the Chaguaramas Peninsula and adjacent to Tucker Valley.

The smaller head in D. trinitatis has been noted previously, but placed side-by-side the size difference is dramatic and it appears Dipsas variegata is macrocephalic, while D. trinitatis is microcephalic. Microcephalism evolved in several sea snakes (Hydrophis, family Elapidae, Hydrophiinae) that specialize in hunting snake eels in crevices. The smaller head allows the snake to probe holes and crevices to extract the fish. Since Dipsas feeds on snails and extracts them from their shells it seems probable that the difference in head size is adaptive for a specific type of prey, or a specific foraging strategy (possibly removing snail bodies from shells of different sizes or extracting snails from crevices). Feeding behavior and diet in these snakes is poorly known it is unclear as to how head size relates to diet or foraging.

Above: A and C are Dipsas trinitatis; B and D are Dipsas variegata.


Harvey, Michael B. 2008. New and Poorly Known Dipsas (Serpentes: Colubridae) from Northern South America. Herpetologica 64 (4): 422-451.
Murphy, J.C. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago. Krieger Publishing, Malabar.
Murphy, J. C. and M. G. Rutherford.  2014. The first report of the snail-eating snake Dipsas variegata (Duméril, Bibron and Duméril) on Trinidad, its relationship to Dipsas trinitatis Parker (Squamata, Dipsadidae), and a discussion of microcephalic and macrocephalic ecomorphs in Dipsas. Herpetology Notes 7: 757-760.
Parker, H. W. 1926. A new snake from Trinidad. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (9) 18: 205-207
Peters, J. A. 1960. The snakes of the subfamily Dipsadinae. Misc. Publ. Mus. Zool., Univ. Michigan (114): 224 pp.
Peters, J,A. Donoso-Barros, R. & Orejas-Miranda B. 1970. Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: Part I Snakes. Part II Lizards and Amphisbaenians. Bull. US Natl. Mus. 297: 347 pp.
Wallach, V. K. L. Williams, J. Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.

Trinidad Snail-eating Snake, Dipsas trinitatis (Family Dipsadidae)




Dipsas trinitatis Parker 1926: 206.
Dipsas variegata trinitatis — Peters 1960: 139.
Dipsas trinitatis — Harvey 2008.


Size: 638 mm SVL, 165 mm tail; tail 25–36% of the SVL. Identification: Slender, yellow, tan, and brown with 17–24 blotches on the dorsum; head significantly larger than the neck; the only Trinidad snake lacking a mental groove on the chin. Crown dark brown, sides of head tan, with dark brown pigment on seams of labials.  Similar species: Perhaps most easily confused with Sibon nebulata that is similar in body and head shape but is gray or brown and white and has a mental groove. Rostral barely visible from above; smooth scales in 15 rows with the vertebral row slightly enlarged, ventrals 168–189, subcaudals divided 81–92. Loreal single, one preocular, two postoculars, 7-9 upper labials, 9-12 lower labials, anal plate single 

Distribution: probably endemic to Trinidad but may also occur in the vicinity of Guarico, Venezuela. Habitat: A forest-edge snake that uses habitats disturbed by humans. Biology: Crepuscular, nocturnal; activity is sporadic. Diet: snails that lack an operculum; the snake uses a ratchet-like motion of its lower jaw to remove the snail from the shell.


Boos, H.E.A. 2001. The snakes of Trinidad and Tobago. Texas A&M University Press, 270 pp.
Harvey, Michael B. 2008. New and Poorly Known Dipsas (Serpentes: Colubridae) from Northern South America. Herpetologica 64 (4): 422-451.
Murphy, J.C. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago. Krieger Publishing, Malabar.
Murphy, J. C. and M. G. Rutherford.  2014. The first report of the snail-eating snake Dipsas variegata (Duméril, Bibron and Duméril) on Trinidad, its relationship to Dipsas trinitatis Parker (Squamata, Dipsadidae), and a discussion of microcephalic and macrocephalic ecomorphs in Dipsas. Herpetology Notes 7: 757-760.
Parker, H. W. 1926. A new snake from Trinidad. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (9) 18: 205-207
Peters, J. A. 1960. The snakes of the subfamily Dipsadinae. Misc. Publ. Mus. Zool., Univ. Michigan (114): 224 pp.
Peters, J,A. Donoso-Barros, R. & Orejas-Miranda B. 1970. Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: Part I Snakes. Part II Lizards and Amphisbaenians. Bull. US Natl. Mus. 297: 347 pp.
Wallach, V. K. L. Williams, J. Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.

Ruschenberger's Treeboa, Corallus ruschenbergerii (Family Bodiae)


















Xiphosoma ruschenbergerii Cope 1876: 129.
Xiphosoma ruschenbergii -  Boulenger 1893: 99
Corallus cookei var. ruschenbergi -  Boettger 1898: 10.
Boa ruschenbergii - Stejneger 1902: 184.
Boa salmonidia Briceño Rossi 1934: 1141.
Corallus ruschenbergerii - Henderson 1997: 212.

Size. 1.87 m SVL, 2.2 m TL. Description. Deep labial pits, nasal scales in contact, and internasal scales in contact behind the nasals will separate this snake from all other T&T snakes. Body laterally compressed; head wide, distinct from neck. Rostral slightly visible from above; loreal divided; supraoculars and postoculars divided into small scales; 8–13 supralabials, 12–15 infralabials; 252–268 ventrals; anal single; single subcaudals 100–112. Smooth, dorsal scales in 38–45 rows at midbody. Dorsum khaki-brown to yellow-brown. Males with larger anal spurs than females

Distribution. Costa Rica, to Colombia and northern Venezuela, the Isla de Margarita; and Trinidad, Tobago. Life History. An arboreal, nocturnal, forest and forest-edge boid that occasionally descends to the ground. Readily seen at night using a flashlight and searching the canopy, common in Caroni Swamp and many locations in the Northern Range. Diet includes birds, mice, squirrels, bats, mongoose, porcupine rats, and mouse opossum. Reproduction. Courtship and mating in February; 20–30 young born August.


Acevedo-Charry, Orlando and Jose Rancés Caicedo-Portilla. 2016. Corallus ruschenbergerii (Rushcenberger Tree Boa) Diet. Herpetological Review 47 (1): 143-144
Boettger, O. 1898. Katalog der Reptilien-Sammlung im Museum der Senckenbergischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Frankfurt/M. 2.Teil (Schlangen). Frankfurt/M (Gebr. Knauer), i-ix + 1-160.
Boos, H.E.A. 2001. The snakes of Trinidad and Tobago. Texas A&M University Press, 270 pp.
Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp.
Briceno-Rossi, A.L. 1934. El problema del ofidismo en Venezuela. Bol. Min. Salubr. Agric. Cria, Venezuela, Caracas, 1: 1079-1177
Cope, E.D. 1875. On the Batrachia and Reptilia of Costa Rica with notes on the herpetology and ichthyology of Nicaragua and Peru. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia N.S. (2) 8: 93-183.
Esqueda; L.F. & E. La Marca. 2004. Geographic Distribution (Serpentes): Corallus ruschenbergerii. Herpetological Review 35(2):190
Henderson, R. W. 2002. Neotropical Treeboas. Krieger Publ. Company, Malabar, 198 pp.
Henderson, R. W., Pauers, M. J. and Colston, T. J. 2013. On the congruence of morphology, trophic ecology, and phylogeny in Neotropical treeboas (Squamata: Boidae: Corallus). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 109: 466–475. doi: 10.1111/bij.12052
Henderson, Robert W. 1997. A Taxonomic Review of the Corallus hortulanus complex of Neotropical Tree Boas. Carib. J. Sci. 33 (3-4): 198-221.
Henderson, Robert W. and Michael J. Pauers 2012. On the Diets of Neotropical Treeboas (Squamata: Boidae: Corallus). South American Journal of Herpetology 7 (2): 172-180.
Henderson, Robert W.; Michael J. Pauers and Timothy J. Colston 2013. On the congruence of morphology, trophic ecology, and phylogeny in Neotropical treeboas (Squamata: Boidae: Corallus). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, DOI: 10.1111/bij.12052
Kornacker, Paul M.;Dederichs, Ursula 1998. Herpetologische Eindrücke einer Venezuelareise - Teil 2: Die Llanos. Elaphe 6 (3): 68-73
Markezich, A.L. 2002. New distribution records of reptiles from Western Venezuela. Herpetological Review 33 (1): 69-74. McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
Natera-Mumaw, Marco; Luis Felipe Esqueda-González & Manuel Castelaín-Fernández 2015. Atlas Serpientes de Venezuela Santiago de Chile, Dimacofi Negocios Avanzados S.A., 456 pp.
Pérez-Santos,C. & Moreno, A.G. 1988. Ofidios de Colombia. Museo reegionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino, Monographie VI, 517 pp.
Rivas Fuenmayor, Gilson and Cesar Luis Barrio Amorós 2005. New Amphibian and Reptile records from Cojedes State, Venezuela. Herpetological Review 36 (2):205-209.
Sandoval, Luis and Gerardo Chaves 2014. Corallus ruschenbergeri. Behavior. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1 (2): 287.
 Solórzano, A. 2006. Snakes of the Osa Peninsula [Costa Rica]. Reptilia (GB) (48): 30-34.

Solórzano, A. 2006. Die Schlangen der Osa-Halbinsel [Costa Rica]. Reptilia (Münster) 11 (61): 28-31 Stejneger,L. 1902. An annotated list of batrachians and reptiles collected in the vicinity of La Guaira, Venezuela, with descriptions of two new species of snakes. Proc. US Natl. Mus. 24 [1901]: 179-192. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Yellow Puffing Snake, Spilotes sulphureus (Family Colubridae)

Natrix sulphurea Wagler 1824: 26
Coluber poecilostoma Wied-Neuwied 1824
Spilotes poecilostoma — Duméril, Bibron & Duméril 1854: 221
Phrynonax sulphureus — Boulenger 1894: 19
Pseustes sulphureus sulphureus — Beebe 1946: 41
Pseustes sulphureus — Gasc & Rodrigues 1980

Spilotes sulphureus — Jadin et al. 2013.

Size: 977 mm SVL, 1,424 mm TL, may exceed 3.0 m; tail about 45% of SVL; hatchlings relatively large 350–518 mm SVL.

 Identification: Dorsal scales in 21 rows at mid-body reduced to 13 or 15 posteriorly; all rows keeled except the first two. This is a large black snake that may have yellow cross bands or spots on the anterior body, or the body may be more yellow than black. 

Similar species: In Trinidad it is most easily confused with Clelia or Drymarchon, none of these have dorsal scales in 21 rows. Rostral visible from above; nasals semi-divided; loreal single; one preocular; three postoculars;  eight upper labials, 10 lower labials; ventrals 208−226; single cloacal plate; divided subcaudals 125−145; dorsal scales smooth with apical pits.  

Habitat: Forest canopy snake, probably rarely comes to the ground. Biology: Diurnal, mostly arboreal species that is uncommon. Diet includes most vertebrates (reptiles, birds and mammals) it can swallow. Reproduction: Females reported to lay eggs in August with young hatching in October after 84–86 days of incubation.

Boos, H.E.A. 2001. The snakes of Trinidad and Tobago. Texas A&M University Press, 270 pp.
Duellman, W. E. 1978. The biology of an equatorial herpetofauna in Amazonian Ecuador. Misc. Publ. Univ. Kans. Mus. Nat. Hist. 65: 1-352.
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Duellman, W.E., Salas, A.W. 1991. Annotated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Cuzco Amazonico, Peru. Occas. Papers Mus. of Natur. Hist., Univ. of Kansas, Lawrence (143): 13 pp.
Frota, J.G. da; Pedroso dos Santos-Jr, Alfredo; Menezes-Chalkidis, H. de & Guimarães Guedes, A. 2005. As Serpentes Da Região Do Baixo Rio Amazonas, Oeste Do Estado Do Pará, Brasil (Squamata). Biociências 13 (2): 211-220
Fugler, Charles M. and A. Brad Walls. 1978. Snakes of the Upano Valley of Amazonian Ecuador. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 53 (3): 81-87.
Hamdan, B. & R. M. Lira-da-Silva 2012. The snakes of Bahia State, northeastern Brazil: species richness, composition and biogeographical notes. Salamandra 48 (1): 31-50.
Jadin, R. C., Burbrink, F. T., Rivas, G. A., Vitt, L. J., Barrio-Amorós, C. L. and Guralnick, R. P. 2013. Finding arboreal snakes in an evolutionary tree: phylogenetic placement and systematic revision of the Neotropical birdsnakes. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research. 52 (3): 257–264; doi: 10.1111/jzs.12055.
Marques, O. AV Calleffo, Myriam E. 1997. Geographic Distribution. Pseustes sulphureus. Herpetological Review 28 (3): 160.
Marques, R., M.S. Tinôco, D. Couto- Ferreira, C.P. Fazolato, H.C. Browne-Ribeiro, M.L.O. Travassos, M.A. Dias & J.V.L. Mota 2011. Reserva Imbassaí Restinga: inventory of snakes on the northern coast of Bahia, Brazil. Journal of Threatened Taxa 3 (11): 2184–2191
Natera-Mumaw, Marco; Luis Felipe Esqueda-González & Manuel Castelaín-Fernández 2015. Atlas Serpientes de Venezuela Santiago de Chile, Dimacofi Negocios Avanzados S.A., 456 pp.
Oliveira Lula Salles, R. de & Silva-Soares, T. 2010. Répteis do município de Duque de Caxias, Baixada Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Sudeste do Brasil. Biotemas, 23 (2): 135-144
Oliveira Lula Salles, R. de; Weber, L.N. & Silva-Soares, T. 2010. Reptiles, Squamata, Parque Natural Municipal da Taquara, municipality of Duque de Caxias, state of Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Brazil. Check List 6 (2): 280-286
Pérez-Santos, C. & Moreno, A.G. 1988. Ofidios de Colombia. Museo reegionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino, Monographie VI, 517 pp.
Pontes, J.A.L.; Figueiredo, J.P., Pontes, RC. & Rocha, C.F.D. 2008. Snakes from the Atlantic Rainforest area of Serra do Mendanha, in Rio de Janeiro state, southeastern Brazil: a first approximation to the taxocenosis composition. Braz. J. Biol. 68(3): 601-609
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Vanzolini, P. E. 1986. Addenda and corrigenda to the catalogue of Neotropical Squamata. Smithsonian Herp. Inf. Serv. (70): 1-25.
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Whithworth, A. & Beirne, C. 2011. Reptiles of the Yachana Reserve. Global Vision International, 130 pp. 

Flat Snake, Siphlophis compressus (Family Dipsadidae)

Coluber compressus Daudin 1803: 247.
Trypanurgos compressus — Beebe 1946: 43.
Tripanurgos compressus — Peters & Orejas-Miranda 1970: 311.

Siphlophis compressus — Zaher & Prudente 1999.

Type locality: Surinam.

Distribution: In Central America from Costa Rica to  Panama, southward into Colombia, Ecuador and Peru and eastward into Venezuela, Trinidad, and the Guianas and southward into  Brazil. 

This is a semi-arboreal snake that specializes in feeding on lizards. Mainland populations are frequently observed in arboreal habitats. On Trinidad most of the specimens we observed were on the ground at night or in the early morning hours.

Alencar, Laura RV. MP Gaiarsa, and M Martins. 2013. The Evolution of Diet and Microhabitat use in Pseudoboine Snakes. South American Journal of Herpetology Apr 2013, Vol. 8, No. 1: 60-66.
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Barreto-Guedes, T. Geziana Silva SN, N Lúcia da Costa Prudente and OAV Marques 2011. New records and geographical distribution of the Tropical Banded Treesnake Siphlophis compressus (Dipsadidae) in Brazil. Herpetology Notes 4: 341-346
Barrio-Amorós CL., Chacón-Ortiz A., Diasparra, JP, Orellana, AM,  Bautista J. & Molina C. 2010. Distribution of Siphlophis compressus (Daudin, 1803) in Venezuela with a remarkable geographic extension [Short Note]. Herpetozoa 23: - get paper here
Beebe, William 1946. Field notes on the snakes of Kartabo, British Guiana, and Caripito, Venezuela. Zoologica 31: 11-52
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Natera-Mumaw, Marco; Luis Felipe Esqueda-González & Manuel Castelaín-Fernández 2015. Atlas Serpientes de Venezuela Santiago de Chile, Dimacofi Negocios Avanzados S.A., 456 pp.
Neto, Antonio Mollo; Paola María Sánchez-Martínez and Renato Augusto Junqueira Gaiga 2013. Predation on the lizard Iguana iguana (Sauria: Iguanidae) by the snake Siphlophis compressus (Serpentes: Dipsadidae), at Rondônia state, Brazil. Herpetology Notes 6: 37-38.
 Oliveira Lula Salles, R. de & Silva-Soares, T. 2010. Répteis do município de Duque de Caxias, Baixada Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Sudeste do Brasil. Biotemas, 23 (2): 135-144
Oliveira Lula Salles, R. de; Weber, L.N. & Silva-Soares, T. 2010. Reptiles, Squamata, Parque Natural Municipal da Taquara, municipality of Duque de Caxias, state of Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Brazil. Check List 6 (2): 280-286. Pérez-Santos,C. & Moreno, A.G. 1988. Ofidios de Colombia. Museo reegionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino, Monographie VI, 517 pp.
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Black Cribo or Mussurana, Clelia clelia (Family Dipsadidae)

By Geoff Gallice (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dejeuxx/) -  https://www.flickr.com/photos/dejeuxx/8707497983/in/set-72157631616756321, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36616142

















Coluber clelia Daudin 1803: 330
Brachyruton cloelia — Duméril, Bibron & Duméril 1854: 1007
Oxyrhopus clelia — Cope 1878: 33
Oxyrhopus cloelia — Garman 1884: 19
Pseudoboa cloelia - Serié 1921
Clelia clelia clelia - Dunn 1944
Clelia clelia groomei Greer 1965
Size: 1.5 m, exceeds 2 meters; hatchlings 230 mm; tail 24% of SVL.

Distribution. Currently considered a widespread species in Central America fro Honduras southward to Panama and into South America as far south as northeast Argentina. 

 Identification: Black with white belly, 19 scale rows at mid-body, reduced to 17 rows in front of the vent, a single anal plate, and divided subcaudal scales. Juveniles have a black head, a white or yellow collar and a red body with each scale containing a black spot. Perhaps most easily confused with its close relative Pseudoboa neuwiedii which has the juvenile coloration seen in this species. But Pseudoboa has single subcaudal scales, and another close relative Oxyrhopus petola which can be solid black has a loreal scale that is about as wide as it is long; Clelia's loreal scale is greatly elongated. Rostral visible from above; nasal divided; one preocular, loreal present in two Trinidad specimens (maybe absent); two postoculars; seven upper labials; six to eight lower labials; ventrals 218−225; cloacal plate single; 62−76  paired subcaudals. Dorsal scales smooth

 Habitat: Terrestrial, inhabits forests and savannas, often near water.Biology:  Nocturnal. Diet: almost exclusively ectotherms, subdued with a combination of venom and constriction; includes: Ameiva, Boa, Bothrops, Corallus, and Spilotes. Mammals may also be eaten, including opossums. Eggs number 16−40. Other common names: Vidua, Black cribo, Cribo, Mustarungua, Vidue.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Checkered-bellied Snake, Siphlophis cervinus (Family Dipsadidae)

Coronella cervina Laurenti 1768: 88.

Siphlophis cervinus cervinus — Beebe 1946: 42.


Ranges from Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad eastward to the Guianas and Brazil and southward to Bolivia and Peru. A poorly known, highly secretive, nocturnal snake that specializes in feeding on lizards. Size: 634 mm SVL, 173 mm tail; tail 27−32% of the SVL; maximum TL 1.3 m. A very distinctive serpent with a wide head and slender body, a pink to red vertebral stripe, with yellow and black bars on the sides of the body. Rostral visible from above with rounded edge; nasals single; elongate, single loreal; one preocular; two postoculars; 7–9 upper labials; 8–9 lower labial, fourth and fifth enlarged; 240–273 ventrals; anal plate single; 97–116 paired subcaudals. Smooth dorsal scales in 19 rows at mid-body, reduced to 15–17 posteriorly. Dorsum pink to red; head and nape red scales with black-edges; black collar present; black bars, spots, or chevrons distributed over the dorsum and separated by yellow or white with scales that are black tipped; venter and first and second scale rows yellow or white with black spots or bars, giving the underside a checkered appearance. Arboreal in forest and forest-edge habitats. Known to produce clutches of 3-6 eggs.

Black-headed Snake, Tantilla melanocephala (Family Colubridae)

Wilson and Mena (1980) state that Tantilla melanocephala has the widest range of any species in the genus, occurring from Guatemala south to southern Peru, Bolivia, northern Argentina, and Uruguay. They also note it inhabits a wide range of habitats. They write, “Tantilla melanocephala is a widely-distributed snake and, as such, shows a wide range of variation in pattern and scale characteristics. What follows is a summary of those characteristics: (1) head cap cream to dark brown, usually pale brown to dark brown; (2) pale nuchal collar complete, divided medially, divided medially and laterally or reduced to two small spots centered on the parietals (usually not complete); (3) dorsal ground color tan to brown; (4) dark subocular blotch completely separating pre- and postocular pale spots or not; (5) lateral extension of dark head cap present or not; (6) brown to dark brown dark nape band present or not; (7) pale neck band following dark nape band present or not, if present,  occupying '/2-2 dorsal scale lengths, sometimes reduced to small spots on either side of the dark middorsal stripe; (8) pale lateral band present or not, if present, usually occupying from as little as the upper portion of row 3 to as much as the upper portion of row 3, all of row 4, and the lower portion of row 5, bounded above and/or below with dark pigment or not. Variation in scales may be summarized as follows: prefrontal in contact with second supralabial on one or both sides or not (in contact on both sides in 66.2% of specimens); first pair of infralabials in contact medially or not (in contact in 80.7% of specimens); ventrals in males 125-174, in females 134-177; subcaudals in males 41-92, in females 41-75. Total length in snakes of all ages ranges from 95-486 mm and tail length ranges from 15-140 mm. Relative tail length ranges from 15.8-35.9%. Range. —From near sea level to intermediate elevations along both versants from Guatemala throughout the length of Central America into South America as far south as southern Peru, Bolivia, northern Argentina, and Uruguay; also on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.”






Writing about variation in ventrals in the West Indies they state, “Trinidad is 18 to 19 kilometres from the nearest point on the mainland of Venezuela in the north and = 13 kilometres in the south (across the delta of the Orinoco River) and Tobago is 28 to 29 kilometres from the nearest point on Trinidad (near Toco). The differences in ventral counts between specimens from Trinidad and adjacent Venezuela, compared to specimens from Trinidad and Tobago, are striking. Mean ventral numbers in Trinidad are lower by approximately 8 to 15 scales than specimens from adjacent Venezuela. On Tobago, ventral numbers again increase markedly over those in Trinidad and are even higher than those from mainland Venezuela. In fact, only specimens from upper Central America have higher ventrals than those of specimens from Tobago. The mean for ventrals for Trinidad males is 20.2 scales lower than that for Tobagan males. Comparable figures for females are not available, but the count for the single Tobagan female is 9 scales above the highest count for Trinidad females. Ventral numbers decrease in the Guianas (material available only from Guyana and Surinam) as compared to adjacent areas in Venezuela, as well as in Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, but increase again in Argentina (the pattern in the latter 4 countries is poorly understood due to the paucity of material).”

Thus, it seems highly unlikely that Tantilla melanocephala is a single, widespread species. The ventral counts given by Wilson and Mena for Trinidad (137- 152 in males and 147-159 in females) do not even overlap with their numbers for Tobago (157-160 for males and 168 for a single female).