Friday, August 26, 2016

Trinidad Ribbon Coral Snake, Micrurus lemniscatus diutius (Family Elapidae)

Size: 1220 mm SVL; 100 mm tail; tail 8-10% SVL in males; 8-9% of SVL in females. Identification: A very distinctive snake with bright, bold colored rings, black bands in groups of three (triad). Snout blunt and rounded; rostral visible from above; nasal divided; loreal absent; six or seven upper labials; six or seven lower labials; one preocular; two postoculars; 226 or fewer ventrals in males; 239 of fewer ventrals in females; and 35−38 paired (usually) subcaudals in males, 32−41 paired subcaudals in females. Dorsal scales are smooth and in 15 rows. Black rings in 7−13 triads, groups of three black rings each separated by a white or yellow ring form a single triad; each triad separated by a wide red ring. Tip of nose black followed by a white preocular ring, followed by a red collar. Red and white scales in this species have black pigment. M. circinalis lacks the triad pattern and has large red rings separated by short black bands; each of these black bands is outlined by a very short white ring.Oxyrhopus petolarius in Trinidad has a black and red pattern without white. The ringed pattern ofHydrops consists of numerous rings of black separated by red or orange rings that are about equal in length. Distinguishing this coral snake from its colubrid mimics (or models), Erythrolamprus aesculapii and E. bizona, at a distance is difficult; Erythrolamprus have a loreal scale, the coral snake lacks it; Erythrolamprus have paired or single black annuli, instead of the triad found in this species. Only two specimens of the mimics have been found on Trinidad, and caution is always the best approach when collecting coral snakes. Distribution: M. l. diutius inhabits Trinidad, eastern Venezuela, and the Guianas and northern Brazil; on Trinidad it is widespread, usually at elevations below 300 m. Habitat: Forests and savannas, frequently in or near bodies of water. Biology: Nocturnal, but may be active on overcast days. Diet: Snakes, lizards, synbranchid eels. Reproduction: A female collected in early July contained two eggs.

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