Feeding ecology and diet

Loxocemus bicolor is a constrictor snake that forages widely for prey, relying on chemical and visual cues to locate prey outright or to restrict its attention to specific microhabitats.

The Neotropical sunbeam snake (Loxocemus bicolor) has two bony spurs (vestigial femurs) projecting from its ventral surface (its underside). (Illustration by Bruce Worden)

Loxocemus bicolor has scales that are slightly iridescent. (Photo by R. Wayne Van Devender. Reproduced by permission.)

Food items of three snakes from Mexico and one from Costa Rica included two whip-tailed lizards (Cnemidophorus sp.) and two small rodents. Costa Rican specimens also take eggs and hatchlings of black iguanas (Ctenosaura similis) and eggs of green iguanas (Iguana iguana) and olive ridley sea turtles (Lep-idochelys olivacea). A 54 in (138 cm) (total body length) snake consumed 32 C. similis eggs, whereas a 55 in (140 cm) specimen ate 23 I. iguana and four C. similis eggs. Loxocemus apparently enters the nesting tunnels of lizards and sea turtles in search of eggs, which probably constitute seasonally important prey for the snake. Hatchlings are seized as they emerge from their nests. When feeding on sea turtle eggs, Loxocemus loops its body around the eggs before swallowing them whole; the coils are made with the venter toward the snake's head. In captivity, C. similis eggs are first bitten, pushed against the body with the mouth, and then ingested. Some eggs may be broken in the process, but most are swallowed intact.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment