Sunday, July 9, 2017

Machete Savane, Chironius carinatus (Family Colubridae)

Size. 1.5 m SVL, tail 58-79% SVL. Diagnosis. An olive green snake with a yellow ventral surface. Eyes exceptionally large. Dorsal scales in 12 rows at mid body, reduced posteriorly to 10; scales smooth except those on either side of vertebral row which are strongly keeled in males and weakly keeled in females. Each dorsal scale tipped with black. Dorsum olive green, venter yellow, blue or both; chin and labials yellow. The 12 dorsal scale row count distinguishes this snake from all other T&T snakes, except the long-tailed machete, which has more ventral scales (161–174) than this species (146–167) and a relatively longer tail. 

Distribution. C. carinatus is probably widespread in northern South America and in Trinidad. 

Life History. A forest and forest-edge snake, which descends to the ground to forage during the day and sleeps in bushes and trees; uses primary and secondary forests. Diet. Hylid frogs are frequently taken as prey. Defense. Kinking its body so that it mimics twigs or leaf petioles is common; it does not hesitate to compress the anterior portion of its body and strike; compression of the body exposes pink skin that contrasts to dark scales. Other common names. Machete savanne, yellow machete, golden tree snake.

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