Significance to humans

Colubrid snakes appear to figure in human commerce in two primary ways. First, many species are sold in the pet trade, including large numbers of wild-caught individuals of many species. Several groups of colubrids have become sufficiently popular that they now are bred in captivity in large numbers. Among the latter are the cornsnake (Elaphe guttata) and several species of kingsnakes (Lampropeltis). Although most species are too small to be useful as leather, a few colubrids are exploited in the skin trade, including the large Asian ratsnakes (Ptyas). Recently a large trade in aquatic colubrids of the subfamily Homalopsinae has been documented in Cambodia, and much of that trade involves the preparation of skins for leather. In addition, however, snakes are used as food for humans and are also fed to farm-raised crocodiles that are in turn used for leather. The magnitude of the trade was enormous, with an estimated 4,000-8,500 snakes per day traded at one port during peak periods. That catch is likely to be unsustainable.

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1. Mussurana (Clelia clelia); 2. Amazonian snail-eater (Dipsas indica); 3. Northern cat-eyed snake (Leptodeira septentrionalis); 4. Eastern hog-nosed snake (Heterodon platirhinos); 5. Common slug-eater (Duberria lutrix); 6. Common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis); 7. Yamakagashi (Rhabdophis tigrinus); 8. Cape filesnake (Mehelya capensis). (Illustration by Barbara Duperron)

1. Brown treesnake {Boiga irregularis); 2. Smooth snake {Coronella austriaca); S. Boomslang {Dispholidus typus); 4. Common egg-eater {Dasypeltis scabra); 5. Milksnake {Lampropeltis triangulum); 6. Indigo snake {Drymarchon corais); 7. Tentacled snake {Erpeton tentaculatus); B. Dog-faced watersnake {Cerberus rynchops). {Illustration by Barbara Duperron)

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