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.

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