Physical characteristics

Color patterns among the species vary, but most have a dark ground color (black or dark brown) with 40-60 yellow or red half-bands on the ventral surface that extend dorsally to different scale rows in different species. Some species have either longitudinal stripes (Cylindrophis lineatus) or a row of small light spots on either side of the dorsal midline (C. engkariensis). They differ from more basal alethinophidians (anomochilids and uropeltids) in having a fully toothed palate, using constriction to restrain prey, and in exploiting small vertebrates as prey. All species have a distinct mental groove in the lower jaw, no loreal or preocular scales (the prefrontals

Blotched pipe snake (Cylindrophis maculatus). (Illustration by Bruce Worden)

Red-tailed pipe snake (Cylindrophis ruffus). (Illustration by Bruce Worden)

spectacle covering a very small eye with a round or vertically subelliptical pupil. The skull is marked by relatively small numbers of robust teeth on the maxillae, dentaries, palatines, and pterygoids. There are no premaxillary teeth. A postorbital bone is present but typically floats in connective tissue and may be lost in many prepared skulls. The lower jaw has a highly mobile intramandibular joint but tight attachment between the tips of the mandibles.

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