Tag Archive: snakes

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Boida (Boas)

Genus/species: Eunectes murinus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:  Gigantic, heavy-bodied, dark green boa with dark spots. A distinctive stripe runs from the rear edge of the eye, diagonally downwards to the back of the head. The stripe is edged with black and varies in coloration, from greenish to orange. Eyes and nasal openings are on top of their heads, allowing them to lay in wait for prey while remaining nearly completely submerged. The female dwarfs the male and is almost five times heavier.
Like all snakes, anaconda have a forked tongue they helps them locate prey and mates and to navigate their environment, in conjunction with the tubular Jacobson’s organ in the roof of the snake’s mouth.

SIZE: Up to more than 29 feet (8.8 meters), weigh more than 227 kilograms (550 pounds) and measure more than 30 cm (12 in) (30 centimeters) in diameter.

Anaconda 8629891977_66e2cd6195_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT South America: Amazon and Orinoco drainages from Colombia and Venezuela to East Bolivia and Central Brazil. Associated strongly with watercourses, swamps and other freshwater locations.

DIET IN THE WILD: They feed on any prey that they can kill and swallow including monkeys, deer, peccaries, pacus, agoutis, birds, fish, caiman and turtles. Prey usually killed by constriction; prey suffocates and often drowning in water. Usually feed in water. Jaws attached by stretchy ligaments allow them to swallow their prey whole, no matter the size, and they can go weeks or months without food after a big meal. Primarily a lie-in-wait predator.

Academy Diet: Frozen/thawed rabbits (P. Dwight Biologist).


REPRODUCTION: Green anacondas are ovoviviparous (eggs hatch in the mother and snakes are born alive). They are polyandrous breeding with multiple-male aggregations of up to 13 males. Female anacondas retain their eggs and give birth to two to three dozen live young. Baby snakes are about 0.6 meters (2 ft). After mating, the female may eat one or more of her mating partners, as she does not take in food for up to seven months after birth.

PREDATORS:Caimen. Jaguars, and green anacondas.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Lives to over 29 years.

REMARKS: The anaconda is, pound for pound, the largest snake in the world. The reticulated python, can reach slightly greater lengths, but the enormous girth of the anaconda makes it almost twice as heavy. Can remained submerged for a very long time lying in wait for its next meal.

Some indigenous peoples of Brazil and Peru use green anacondas body parts for magical and spiritual properties, in ritualistic purposes.

Green anacondas are among the only snakes that can reach the proportions necessary to possibly kill and consume a human being. However, attacks by green anacondas are rare due to low.

The California Academy of Sciences specimen is a female. Length/wt 2013: 13 ft 11 inches long and weight 92 lbs.
2008 she was 3m (10 feet) long and weighed 90 lbs.


Color of Life Note: The dark brownish-green Anaconda demonstrates concealment by laying hidden in the murky waters of the Amazon. It is more visible at the California Academy of Sciences exhibit water which is markedly more transparent.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Flooded Amazon Anaconda Exhibit 2018

U. of Michigan Animal diversity Web https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Eunectes_murinus/#D1CC06F0-924A-11E1-9D4D-002500F14F28

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/794661/overview

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Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Tetrapodomorpha
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae (Pythons)

Genus/species: Aspidites ramsayi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Like the black-headed python,
the Woma’s head is unusually narrow for a python. Gray, olive-brown, or red-brown above with darker olive brown to black crossbands on the body. Sides and undersides pale.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central and southwest Australia. Found in arid zones on sand plains and dune fields. Shelters in hollow logs, animals burrows, or vegetation during the day.

DIET IN THE WILD: A nocturnal hunter of small mammals, ground birds, and lizards. Because it hunts its prey in narrow tunnels, it cannot throw coils around its target. Instead the snake pushes a loop of its body against the prey, crushing it to death against the side of the burrow.

ACADEMY DIET: One rat every 2 weeks. (M Avila, Academy biologist)

REPRODUCTION: Aspidites ramsayi is oviparous, like all pythons. The female coils around the 5–20 eggs, protecting and warming them with heat generated by muscular “shivering” for the 2–3 month incubation period.

CONSERVATION: Listed as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List. Threats include the clearing of land for agriculture and grazing, and perhaps high predation by foxes and feral cats.

The Adelaide Zoo in South Australia is coordinating a captive breeding program with offspring being released to the wild. Active research is aimed at returning the woma to its former range.

REMARKS: The Woma, like its relative the blackheaded python, lacks the heat-sensing pits that border the mouth of most other pythons. The woma is a prized food item for desert Aboriginal people. Hunters follow the track of a woma to its burrow and then dig it out.


California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Water Planet Little Water 2018

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Arkive www.arkive.org/woma-python/aspidites-ramsayi/#text=All

IUCN Red List (June, 2008) www.iucnredlist.org

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae (Pythons)

Genus/species: Aspidites melanocephalus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The head is covered with shiny black scales; body a striped or brindled pattern in shades of black and gray-brown, gold and cream. Juveniles are more vividly marked. Females are larger than males.

A large snake with maximum length of 2.5 m, though 1.5 to 2 m more common.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia. The Black Headed Python is found in open woodlands, shrub lands, outcrops, humid coastal forests, and seasonally dry tropical woodlands. It is not found in very arid regions. Found among rocks and loose debris. During cooler temperatures, evidence suggests that when termite nests are present, they tend to burrow into these habitats as a way of maintaining a stable body temperature.

DIET IN THE WILD: A. melanocephalus feeds on birds, other reptiles; small mammals, especially rodents. They are active at night. In the absence of infralabial sensory pits it is probable that tactile, olfactory, and visual cues play an important role in communication and perception in black-headed pythons.

ACADEMY DIET: Two rats every 2 weeks. (M Avila Academy biologist)

Lifespan: from 20 to 30 years

REPRODUCTION: Oviparous. Females guard the five to 10 eggs per clutch.


REMARKS: Like all pythons, a non-venomous species that kills by constriction. To save energy during the dry season when food and water are scarce, pythons reduce their body temperature. Can dig and live in burrows to escape daytime heat. Small, streamlined head and nonprotrusive eyes may be adaptations to entering burrows and hollows.

The glossy, black head that is characteristic of this species helps regulate body temperature as well, allowing the majority of the snake’s body to remain hidden while it extends only its head from its burrow. In order to cool themselves, they may bury their dark head in the sand. When disturbed, black-headed pythons occasionally hiss, but rarely bite. They may also strike with their mouths closed when threatened

References: California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Water planet: Little Water 2018

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Animal Diversity Web: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Aspidites_melanocephalus/

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata (scaled reptiles, all lizards and snakes)
Suborder: Serpentes (snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles)
Family: Viperidae  (vipers, venomous snakes)
Subfamily: Crotalinae (Pit Vipers, crotaline snakes, or pit adders)

Genus/species: Agkistrodon contortrix

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have distinctive reddish-brown bodies with a crossband pattern consisting of tan, copper, and brown colors that extending throughout its body. Its colors enhance its camouflage in leaf litter in wooded habitats. Heat sensitive pit organs are present between the eye and the nostril.
Length up to 53 inches


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in deciduous forest and mixed woodlands in the central and eastern U.S.A. They are also found in swamps. Subspecies are recognized by slight changes in color pattern shape and hue. The Southern Copperhead extends through Massachusetts, westward to Texas and southeastern Nebraska.

DIET IN THE WILD: Diurnal, ambush predators feeding on small mammals (rodents primarily), birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects.

REPRODUCTION: Usually viviparous but Southern Copperheads can reproduce asexually through parthenogenesis. Females kept in captivity in the absence of males periodically produce one fully developed neonate along with a group of aborted ova.

LONGEVITY: Up to 29 years in captivity. Average 15 years in the wild.


REMARKS: Copperheads are venomous but their venom is somewhat mild compared to other snake species. It usually not fatal to healthy human adults.


California Academy Of Sciences Swamp Feb. 5, 2016

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Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.org/accounts/Agkistrodon_contortrix/

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae

Genus/species: Boa constrictor constrictor

Red-tailed Boa IMG_0186

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The background color is cream or brown that is marked with dark “saddle-shaped” bands. The head of a boa constrictor has 3 distinctive stripes. First is a line that runs dorsally from the snout to the back of the head. Second, there is a dark triangle between the snout and the eye. Third, this dark triangle is continued behind the eye, where it slants downward towards the jaw. However, there are many variations on appearance.
Length to 13 feet (3.9 m) as adults. Generally between 2 and 3 meters(6.5 – 10 feet) in length. Weigh 40 to 50 pounds.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Exclusive to the New World (Mexico to Argentina). Boa constrictors are both terrestrial and arboreal. They are found in deserts, wet tropical forests, open savanna, and cultivated fields, and from sea level to moderate elevation having the least need for water of all boas.

DIET IN THE WILD: They ate aglyphous, meaning they do not possess any elongated fangs. Instead, they have rows of long, recurved teeth of about the same size. Teeth are continuously replaced. They are carnivores eating small mammals, including bats, and birds or anything that fits in their mouths. Prey are killed by constriction and swollen whole taking 4-6 days to digest.

REPRODUCTION: Fertilization is internal. The male uses pelvic spurs (hind leg remnants found on either side of the cloacal opening) to aid the use of hemipenes (double penis) for cloacal insertion. Females give birth to live young (ave. 25 in number).

Red-tailed Boa 2775385563_c91e7827ff_o

MORTALITY: Lifespan, 25-30 years.

PREDATORS  Include humans, jaguars, and crocodile 

CONSERVATION : IUCN Red list; not evaluated.

REMARKS: In Mexico and South America, they are valued as destroyers of rodents. B. constrictor constrictor have been “domesticated” for this reason.

Color of Life Note: The Red-Tailed Boa demonstrates concealment with its beige and dark brown markings hiding it in the filtered light coming through tree branches and leaves.


California Academy of Sciences Flooded Amazon Exhibit 2015

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U. of Michigan Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/ site/ accounts/ information/ Boa_constrictor.html.

Smithsonian National Zoological Park  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Boaconstrictor.cfm

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae (Colubrids)

Genus/species: Ahaetulla fronticincta


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Pencil thin, delicate; green and brown scales. Bulbous wide-set raised eyes.   Length to 60 cm (23.5 inches). 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Myanmar (formerly Burma) Mostly arboreal in brackish mangrove swamps. Diurnal hunter of small fish: gobies, and rice fish. 


DIET IN THE WILD: Diurnal hunter of small fish: gobies, and rice fish. Prey immobilized with mild venom  from enlarged rear fangs. Visually oriented hunter.

REPRODUCTION: Fertilization internal. Viviparous. Newborn snakes are a subtle shade of brown. Polymorphic: some adults turn green, brown, or more rarely two-toned.
The Steinhart Aquarium was the first to display this species. Academy field research on this little-known species continues. An arboreally-adapted species that consumes fishes is an oddity. In the Steinhart, feed on guppies and goldfish. Steinhart’s vine shakes have bred and reproduced in captivity, a first for this species.


Color is Life: Pencil thin, delicate; green and brown scales conceal these snakes in the bushes along the banks of tidal rivers in brackish mangrove swamps.


Water Planet, Feeding Cluster 


California Academy of Sciences Water is Life Exhibit


IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/192058/0

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/1057253/details

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae

Genus/species: Crotalus adamanteus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have a large head with a light bordered dark stripe running diagonally through the eye and a large pit between the nostril and eye.. The body is bulky with a row of large dark diamonds with brown centers and cream borders down its back. The ground color of the body ranges from olive, to brown, to almost black. The tail has a well-developed rattle. Maximum length to 7 feet (average length 33 to 72 inches).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic to the southeast of the United States. Found in in the coastal lowlands, barrier islands. Occasionally it may venture into salt water, swimming to the outlying Keys off the Florida coast.

DIET IN THE WILD; C. adamanteus is crepuscular and are most active in the evening or early morning. They feed primarily on small mammals, from mice to rabbits. Location of the prey is by odor, as well as by sensing the infrared waves (heat) given off by their warm-blooded prey.


REPRODUCTION: Brood size ranges from 6 to 21. The gestation period is six to seven months. Young are born live, in retreats such as gopher tortoise burrows or hollow logs and can live over 20 years.

PREDATORS: Young are taken by hogs, carnivorous mammals (the gray fox), raptors (the red-tailed hawk), and other snakes (especially king snakes). Adults have no natural predators.

CONSERVATION: Red List (LC) Least concern but the population is decreasing due to fragmentation by agriculture, forestry practices and urbanization.

REMARKS: It preys on rats, mice, rabbits, and other small mammals, many of which are pests to humans.
It can strike up to 2/3 its body length; a 6-foot specimen may strike 4 feet. It has potent venom with a mortality rate for humans is nearly 40 percent. The only acceptable treatment for venomous snakebite, involves the use of antivenom.

Color of Life note: Pit vipers, boas and pythons have heat sensing organs which detect infrared (IR) wavelengths on their face.  The snake can tell the direction from which a signal originates, depending on where the nerve signal strikes a membrane. This partnership between heat detection and visual sensory inputs allows the snake to detect its warm-blooded prey, even when it is too dark to pick out prey from the background.

Ref: California Academy of Sciences Color of Life Exhibit 2015.


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Florida Museum of Natural History www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-snakes/list/crotalus-ada…

IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/64308/0

Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.org/accounts/Crotalus_adamanteus/

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata (chordates with backbones)
Class: Reptilia (turtles, crocodilians, snakes, lizards and tuatara
Order: Squamata (scaled reptiles)
Suborder: Serpentes (snakes)
Family: Pythonidae (pythons)

Genus/species: Morelia viridis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Adults are green with a distinct ridge of scales that is usually white to yellow in coloration and forms a broken or continuous line down the length of the body.
Ventrally, the scales are generally yellow. Juveniles may be either bright yellow or brick-red. They have series of white blotches edged in black or brown. A white streak edged in black runs from the nostril through the eye and to the back of the head.
Average length of 1.5 m (5 ft); with the largest up to 2.2 m (7.2 ft).


Morelia viridis18399138824_510cf00ea1_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in the Mainland New Guinea, its offshore islands, and in eastern Indonesia and in the northeast Cape York Peninsula of Australia. Found mainly in moist forests from lowland to mid-montane altitudes.

DIET IN THE WILD: They are nocturnal hunter when larger nocturnal prey are active as well. M. viridis changes color when it changes its diet from small reptiles and invertebrates to rodents and birds in the rainforest canopy.

Morelia viridis19021843505_b2a60523a7_o

REPRODUCTION: M. viridis exhibit some maternal care by brooding their eggs before they hatch. Females have been observed coiling around their clutches. They will often shiver and contract their coils, apparently to produce metabolic heat and thus maintaining a temperature, which ranges from 84 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yellow and red individuals averaging 30.5 cm (12.8 inches) in length hatch out of 6 to 32 eggs in captivity but colors are separate on different islands.

PREDATORS: Main predators of green tree pythons are rufous owls, black butcherbirds, and an assortment of diurnal raptors.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Least Concern (LC)
Threats: It is becoming increasingly popular in the pet trade.

REMARKS: Each color stage appears to provide camouflage suitable to its immediate habitat. As a young snake, the red or yellow color blends in better in forest gaps or edges, where smaller animals reside. Adult green coloration blends in best in the closed canopy of the rainforest, where larger prey live.


California Academy of Sciences, Color of Life exhibit June 2015

IUCN Red List www.iucnredlist.org/details/177524/0

Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.org/accounts/Morelia_viridis/

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata (chordates with backbones)
Class: Reptilia (turtles, crocodilians, snakes, lizards and tuatara
Order: Squamata (scaled reptiles)
Suborder: Serpentes (snakes)
Family: Boidae (boas)

Genus/species: Corallus caninus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Adults are typically emerald-green, juveniles are yellow to orange to brown. This individual has striking white markings occurring along the dorsal midline, but some populations lack them. C. caninus has two tiny spurs on either side of its cloaca opening thought to be the evolutionary remnants of hind legs.

Length up to 2.2 m (7.2 feet).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: C. caninus are found lowland tropical rainforests in the Amazonian and Guianan regions of South America.They are arboreal species that spend most of their time in the rainforest canopy foliage. 

They Use the “concertina” method of tree climbing. It holds on to the trunk with its tail and lower part of its body, reaches up with its head and hooks its neck around the trunk. Then it releases its hold with the tail and pulls the rear part of its body up to the level of the neck.

Corallus caninus5252794466_c85c5e40ef_b
DIET IN THE WILD: They perceive prey primarily through sight and infrared heat receptors located in the labial scales. Carnivore Nocturnal predators of rodents, lizards, marsupials and an occasional bird.
Nocturnally they remain coiled on its branch, but will extend its neck pointing beneath it, curled as if about to strike. It will then hold still in this position, waiting for prey to approach directly underneath it. Their highly developed front teeth that are proportionately larger than those of other non-venomous snakes.


Corallus caninus5099438187_af0d2a4e3b_b

REPRODUCTION; Viviparous with a gestation period of 6 to 7 months. They typically give birth 10 young at a time and by 4 months, they begin to develop their adult, green coloration.

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 15 years in captivity.

PREDATORS; Guianan crested eagles (Morphnus guianansis)

CONSERVATION: CITES; no special status.

Corallus caninus4770065279_923bce3efd_b

REMARKS: They are slow-moving but when collected in the wild have been described as making no effort to escape until seized, whereupon they strike viciously and apply constriction at full force.


Animal diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Corallus_caninus/

Encyclopedia of life eol.org/pages/454883/details

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Boidae (Boas; non-venomous, constricting snakes)

Genus/species: Sanzinia madagascariensis


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Endemic throughout the island of Madagascar, excluding the very southwest corner. Occurs in 2 color variations; those in the eastern part of the range are green to grayish-green, while in some parts of the western range they are yellow, orange, and brown. The green variety is somewhat smaller than the western form. Max length: about 2 m or 6 ft. Females are larger than males.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic throughout the island of Madagascar, excluding the very southwest corner. Live in a variety of forest habitats, ranging from lowland tropical forests, to humid upland forests, to dry forests.

DIET IN THE WILD: It is a nocturnal snake, feeding on small mammals (including bats!) and birds, seeking them out using the heat-sensitive pits around its mouth that enable it to hunt for warm-blooded prey in complete darkness. Prey are constricted by the powerful coils of the boa which tighten as the prey struggles, restricting the blood flow to the heart and ultimately causing circulatory failure. Not venomous.

REPRODUCTION: Like all boas, females give birth to live young.Reach maturity at 3 years old, giving usually gives birth to fewer than 12  living young, which are red-colored to deter predators.

CONSERVATION:  IUCN Red List; Least Concern (LC)   Appendix I of CITES. Habitat loss through deforestation for agriculture and human settlement has restricted these boas mostly to protected areas of Madagascar. 

LOCATION: Rainforest  Madagascar MA06


Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/795591/details

ARKive http://www.arkive.org/madagascar-tree-boa/sanzinia-madagascariensis/

California Academy of Sciences Docent Training Manual on Rainforests 2014

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