Mussurana

Clelia clelia

SUBFAMILY

Xenodontinae

TAXONOMY

Coluber clelia Daudin, 1826, Surinam. Three or four subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES Spanish: Culebrera, sumbadora.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This is a large species, reaching over 6 ft (2 m) in length. Adults are uniform shiny black or dark gray dorsally, and

lighter ventrally. Juveniles are very different, having a bright red body with black tips on the dorsal scales, a broad cream collar, and a black snout.

DISTRIBUTION

Central and South America, from Guatemala and Belize to northern Argentina.

HABITAT

The mussurana is an occupant of both forested and open habitats, including marshes.

BEHAVIOR

This active species largely forages nocturnally, but it can also be found abroad during the day.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Snakes are the preferred prey of this species, including pitvipers of the genus Bothrops, the lanceheads. Lizards and mammals are also eaten. This powerful snake combines constriction with rear-fanged envenomation.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

This snake is oviparous, laying clutches of about 10-20 eggs. CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN. This species is listed on Appendix II of CITES, one of the few colubrids to receive such protection.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

The mussurana is highly regarded within its range for its tendency to prey on venomous snakes. Protection under CITES presumably reflects a belief that this species might be desirable in the pet trade, although similar protection is not afforded countless species of other tropical colubrids. ♦

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