Emerald Tree Boa - Corallus caninus
The common name of these beautiful boas is due to the exquisite green coloration on their dorsal surfaces. Scientifically named Corallus caninus (Boidae), many populations have striking white markings occurring along the dorsal midline, although some individuals lack them, and other individuals have black coloration on the dorsum.
Emerald tree boas perceive prey primarily through sight and infrared heat receptors located in the labial scales (clearly shown in the picture). These heat-sensitive pits are critical for locating prey at night. Like other snakes, they also use their tongues and vomeronasal organs to sense chemical cues and they can detect vibrations.
Emerald tree boas are found in lowland tropical rainforests in the Amazonian and Guianan regions of South America.
Photo credit: ©Thierry Montford | Locality: French Guiana (2011)
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus Mocquard, 1894
This species is known to occur along the length of the eastern rainforest belt of Madagascar, from Masoala in the north to Andohahela in the south.
Morphology & Colouration:
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is among the largest members of the genus Pseudoxyrhopus, reaching lengths of up to one metre. It is characterised by 25 dorsal scale rows at midbody, a character it shares with only two other congeners, P. microps and P. ankafinaensis.
The colouration of P. tritaeniatus is striking and unique in Madagascar, reminding somewhat of Oreocryptophis porphyraceus coxi. The snake is typically red, with four or five black dorsal stripes.
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is a nocturnal, terrestrial snake. It is known to eat rodents, but its diet may consist of other mammals, small reptiles, and possibly fish and birds if it can get them. During the day, it is known to seek shelter under rotten wood.
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, due to its wide distribution inside well protected areas.
Systematics and Taxonomy:
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is unmistakable. It is not currently clear which species are its closest relatives, but it is quite possible that P. microps is among them, given its similarities in scale counts, size, and overall appearance.
Sind Saw-scaled Viper - Echis carinatus sochureki
Despite its relatively small size (up to 61 cm long), the Sind Saw-scaled Viper, Echis carinatus sochureki (Viperidae) is considered a dangerous snake, with an aggressive temperament, a lightning-fast strike and powerful venom.
This viper is distinguished by a prominent, dark brown, arrow-shaped marking on the head and is covered in small, heavily keeled scales. Three or four enlarged scales form a slight ridge above each eye.
This subspecies is known from the parts of southern Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Iran, Oman, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
Photo credit: ©Drew Gardner | Locality: Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2007)
Scientists Study “Talking” Turtles in Brazilian Amazon
via: Wildlife Conservation Society
Authors find that Giant South American river turtles have a repertoire of vocalizations for different behavioral situations, including caring for young
Turtles are well known for their longevity and protective shells, but it turns out these reptiles use sound to stick together and care for young, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society and other organizations.
Scientists working in the Brazilian Amazon have found that Giant South American river turtles (Podocnemis expansa), or Arraus, actually use several different kinds of vocal communication to coordinate their social behaviors, including one used by female turtles to call to their newly hatched offspring in what is the first instance of recorded parental care in turtles.
“These distinctive sounds made by turtles give us unique insights into their behavior, although we don’t know what the sounds mean,” said Dr. Camila Ferrara, Aquatic Turtle Specialist for the WCS Brazil Program. “The social behaviors of these reptiles are much more complex than previously thought.”…
(read more: Wildlife Conservation Society)
photograph by © C. Ferrara/WCS
Arabian Toad-headed Agama - Phrynocephalus arabicus
Phrynocephalus arabicus (Agamidae) is also known as the Chisel-teeth lizard due to the compressed, fused teeth being firmly attached to the upper jaw, unlike most other lizards which have loosely attached teeth.
This species ranges from southeastern Jordan into the Arabian Peninsula, including much of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Iran.
These lizards venture out in the middle of the summer day when the air temperature at ‘lizard level’ can be well over 50 Cº. They minimize contact with the hot sand and try and keep their bodies as far off the sand as possible.
Photo credit: ©Drew Gardner | Locality: Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2007)
The super-toes of the Musandam leaf-toed gecko - Asaccus caudivolvulus
The gekkonid genus Asaccus is a group distributed in the mountains of northern Oman and United Arab Emirates that belongs to one of the least known families within the Gekkota.
Described as a particularly colorful species, the Musandam leaf-toed gecko, Asaccus caudivolvulus (Gekkonidae) is a slender, medium-sized gecko with a relatively flattened head, broad snout and distinctive, heart-shaped toes.
The toes of this species each have a pair of specialised scales, known as ‘scansors’, which are covered in thousands of microscopic hair-like structures called setae. Each of these in turn branches into hundreds of saucer-shaped tips, creating an enormous surface area in contact with the ground, giving the gecko remarkable grip and enabling it to climb even smooth, vertical surfaces.
Photo credit: ©Drew Gardner | Locality: Oman (2006)
Snakes That Can See Without Eyes
by Andrew Durso
Pit vipers have an amazing and little-known ability to see infrared light. They do this by means of their eponymous pits, which are essentially a second pair of eyes located in the loreal region of their face, between the normal (visible light or “lateral”) eye and the nostril. Some snakes, such as Emerald Tree Boas (Corallus caninus), have up to forty pits, meaning that in effect they have forty-two ‘eyes’: two lateral eyes and forty infrared eyes.
Pit vipers have just two, but these organs are among the most exquisitely sensitive sensory organs in the animal kingdom. Other animals can also see wavelengths outside of the spectrum of light visible to humans. For example, bees and many birds can see ultraviolet wavelengths, and the complex eyes of mantis shrimp possess at least 16 different photoreceptor types, allowing them to see visible and ultraviolet light with fine sensitivity, as well as polarized light, thought to allows them to see their transparent prey…
(read more: Life is short, but snakes are long)
Jumping viper (juvenile) - Atropoides nummifer (mexicanus)
The species Atropoides nummifer (mexicanus) is a thick-bodied viper (Viperidae) distributed in Mexico and Central America. Although very little information is available regarding the incidence of snakebites caused by this species to humans, it is likely that they inflict a number of accidents due to their broad distribution and relative abundance.
Photo credit: ©Josiah Townsend | Locality: La Liberación, 1030 m, Reserva de Vida Silvestre Texiguat, Honduras (2010)
A faster and more accurate way to test for infection with Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, a fungus that is killing snakes in the Midwest and eastern United States, has been devised by researchers. The test also allows scientists to monitor the progression of the infection in living snakes. Researchers first took notice of Ophidiomyces in snakes in the mid-2000s. Today the fungus threatens the last remaining eastern massasauga rattlesnake population in Illinois and has been found to infect timber rattlesnakes, mud snakes, rat snakes, garter snakes, milk snakes, water snakes and racers in several states.
Ground snake - Atractus spinalis
This snake, scientifically named Atractus spinals (Colubridae) is a new species just described in 2013 from from Serra do Cipó, Espinhaço Range, Southeastern Brazil.
Atractus spinals exhibits a dorsal ground color reddish pink to red with alternate black transversal spots, blotches or transversal bands.
Photo credit: ©Pedro H. Martins | Locality: Serra do Cipó, Minas Gerais, Brazil (2013)
Collectors’ trade threatens ‘Holy Grail’ of the reptile world
via: The Ecologist
An earless species of monitor lizard from Borneo has suddenly erupted into the international trade among pet keepers and reptile collectors. Although it is protected within its range, there are no restrictions on international trade in the species. An urgent CITES listing is desperately needed!
An unusual and little-known monitor lizard from Borneo that has captured the interest of reptile collectors is emerging as the latest victim of the global illicit wildlife trade, an investigative report by TRAFFIC warns.
Lanthanotus borneensis or the Earless Monitor Lizard had long remained virtually unknown to the outside world due to its subterranean habits and limited distribution in north-western Borneo…
photograph via: TRAFFIC
Elapotinus picteti Jan, 1862
Elapotinus picteti is native to the rainforests of eastern and northern Madagascar, from Montagne d’Ambre to Andasibe, at altitudes from 350 to 1009 metres above sea level.
Morphology & Colouration:
Elapotinus picteti is a small snake, reaching a total length of around 42 cm. The scales under the tail are divided. Males seem to be somewhat smaller than females, but have a longer tail relative to their body size.
The dorsal colouration is brown with two red lateral stripes. It possesses a white nuchal collar. A white line runs down either side of the brown ventral scales.
Elapotinus picteti is a terrestrial snake that we know almost nothing about. Most individuals have been found using pitfall traps. The diet is not known, but the dentition is bizarre and apparently suggests a diet of hard-bodied lizards. It lays eggs, probably during the rainy season.
Elapotinus picteti is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. It has apparently broad distribution, and is most likely only apparently rare because of its secretive nature.
Systematics and Taxonomy:
For 150 years from its description in 1862, Elapotinus picteti disappeared; no type locality was given, and for years the species remained a mystery, but one that was continuously mentioned in reviews and snake descriptions over the next century. Then, in 1984, Domergue described Pararhadinaea albignaci; Pararhadinaea had, upon its creation by Boettger in 1898, been likened to Elapotinus. In 1999, Cadle revised Pararhadinaea and erected the new monotypic genus Exallodontophis to house Ex. albiganci, based on its unique dentition. Kucharzewski et al. (2014)have now shown that Elapotinus picteti is in fact synonymous with Exallodontophis albiganci, and takes seniority.
Photos from Kucharzewski et al. 2014
Kucharzewski, C., A. P. Raselimanana, C. Wang (aka hyacynthus!!!) & F. Glaw (2014) A taxonomic mystery for more than 150 years: Identity, systematic position and Malagasy origin of the snake Elapotinus picteti Jan, 1862, and synonymy of Exallodontophis Cadle, 1999 (Serpentes: Lamprophiidae). Zootaxa 3852(2):179-202
Mata mata - Chelus fimbriatus
The Mata mata, Chelus fimbriatus (Testudines - Chelidae), is indeed one of the most bizarre turtles in the world. Its carapace, head, and limbs are well camouflaged with an appearance similar to leaves and stones. The head, triangular-shaped, has various worm-like fringes, responsible for the specific name fimbriatus, which in Latin means fringed or ornamented turtle. Those integumental processes like tubercles, barbels or fringes, are known to function as sensory structures, and they are also used in crypsis.
As seen in the photos, these turtles have a very long and pointy nose, and very small eyes. The carapace has three longitudinal ridges, and the neck is remarkable by the presence of small spines forming two stripes of lateral projections. They live about 35 years, reaching an average length of 44-50 cm.
The Mata mata is a freshwater, bottom-walker turtle. They rarely bask and spend most of their time under water, with the exception of females hauling out onto land to nest.
Chelus fimbriatus is a South American species (Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru), it also occurs on the island of Trinidad, and has been reportedly introduced into the drainage canals of southeast Florida, though a self-sustaining breeding population has not been confirmed. This introduction may be due to carelesness associated with the pet trade. Possible detrimental effects on Florida’s native habitat have not yet been noted or investigated.
STOP KILLING NORTHERN WATER SNAKES!!!
The northern water snake can grow up to 135 cm (4.4 ft) in total length. They can be brown, gray, reddish, or brownish-black. They have dark crossbands on their necks and dark stripes and blotches on the rest of their bodies, often leading to misidentification as cottonmouths orcopperheads by novices. They darken as they age. Some will become almost completely black. The belly of this snake also varies in color. It can be white, yellow, or gray. Usually it also has reddish or black crescents.
Northern water snakes mate from April through June. They are ovoviviparous (live-bearers), which means they do not lay eggs like many other snakes. Instead, the mother carries the eggs inside her body and gives birth to free living young, each one 19–23 cm (7.5–9.1 in) long. A female may have as many as thirty young at a time. They are born between August and October. Mothers do not care for their young; as soon as they are born, they are on their own.
Northern water snakes have many predators, including birds, raccoons, opossums, foxes, snapping turtles, and other snakes. They defend themselves vigorously when they are threatened. If they are picked up by an animal, or person, they will bite repeatedly, as well as release excrement and musk. Their saliva contains a mild anticoagulant, which can cause the bite to bleed more but poses little risk to humans.
Muskrat houses and beaver lodges are good places to find water snakes, which like to hide among the sticks and plant stems. They live near lakes, ponds, marshes, rivers, and canals; just about anywhere there is freshwater.
The Lake Erie water snake subspecies (Nerodia sipedon insularum), which occurs mainly on the lake’s western islands offshore from Ohio and Ontario, recovered to the point where on August 16, 2011 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed it from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The subspecies was first listed as threatened in 1999 after a decline due to eradication by humans, as well as habitat loss and degradation. When initially listed, the subspecies’ population had dropped to only 1,500 adults. Endangered Species Act(ESA) protections for the snake included designation of 300 acres of inland habitat and 11 miles of shoreline for breeding grounds. Ironically, the introduction of an invasive species, the Eurasian round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) into Lake Erie in the mid-1990s became a new food source for the Lake Erie water snake. By 2009, the population recovered to 11,980 snakes, safely exceeding the population minimum goal of 5,555 adult snakes required by the 2003 recovery plan. Monitoring will occur for 5 years following this delisting. The Lake Erie water snake is just the 23rd species to be removed from the list due to recovery.
Speckled Racer - Drymobius margaritiferus
Drymobius margaritiferus (Colubridae) is a diurnally active forager found in a wide variety of habitats ranging from lowland tropical rain forest, pine savannas and thorn forest to pine woods and cloud forest .
This species occurs from southern Texas on the Atlantic coast and southern Sonora, Mexico on the Pacific coast, south through Central America and into South America along the Caribbean coast of Colombia.
Photo credit: ©Paul Bratescu | Locality: Las Marías, Honduras (2010)