Friday, October 21, 2016

Water Coral, Hydrops triangularis (Family Dipsadidae)

Other common names: Red Sided Water Snake; Water Snake.
Size: 963 mm TL. Most individuals are smaller.
The only Trinidad snake with 15 rows of smooth dorsal scales, a loreal (distinguishing it from true coral snakes), and red to dark purple rings that completely encircling the body. Rostral visible from above; nasals divided; loreal single and larger than eye; one preocular fused with the loreal; the internasal scale separates the preocular-loreal from the nasal; one or two (usually two) postoculars; eight upper labials; eight lower labials; 170−176 ventrals; cloacal plate divided; 45−47 subcaudals. Smooth dorsal scales in 15 rows at mid-body with no reduction posteriorly. Dorsum purple-brown with red-brown on sides; off-white on venter. Dorsal annuli number 48−68 on body, most circle the body, some incomplete on mid-dorsum or mid-venter. Head dark purple-brown, each labial with a light center.
Probably most easily confused with the Water Mapepire, but it has 19 scale rows at mid-body, and Linne’s Water Snake which is mostly black or green as an adult but has a banded pattern when young, it has 17 rows of dorsal scales that are reduced to 15 rows near the posterior body.
The species has an Amazonian-Guyana distribution. It is widespread on Trinidad, but is unknown from Tobago. This is probably the most aquatic snake on Trinidad, with the possible exception of the Anaconda. The Water Coral uses swamps, slow rivers, ponds, and flooded rice fields. Reports suggest they prefer water that is relatively shallow and shaded. Nocturnal, but may be active during the day. Diet includes synbranchid eels and other elongated freshwater fishes. The average clutch size is about 15, with a range of 8 to 34.

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