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Micrurus hippocrepis (PETERS, 1862)

IUCN Red List - Micrurus hippocrepis - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Belize coral snake, Mayan Coral Snake 
SynonymElaps hippocrepis PETERS 1862
Micrurus hippocrepis — STAFFORD 2000
Micrurus affinis hippocrepis
Micrurus hippocrepis — WELCH 1994: 85
Micrurus hippocrepis — LEE 2000: 358
Micrurus hippocrepis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 447
Micrurus hippocrespis — SILVA et al. 2016: 52 (in error) 
DistributionBelize, Guatemala

Type locality: Santo Thomas de Guatemala” [= Puerto Matias de Galvez, Guatemala]  
TypesHolotype: ZMB 4065 
DiagnosisDefinition: A single-banded coral snake with the upper part of the head black, followed by a white parietal band. The red bands are long; the first is 13 to 24 dorsals long, usually without black-tipped scales or with a few small and irregular black tips on some scales. Black and immaculate white bands are found on the tail. Males lack supraanal tubercles (Roze 1996: 183).

Description: Males have 196 to 207 (201.5) and females have 213 to 226 (220.4) ventrals; subcaudals 49 to 55 (52.6) in males and 37 to 41 (38.2) in females; usually 1+2 temporals. Examined: 6 males and 6 females, including the holotype.
The snout is usually black, including the supraoculars and most of the frontal. The rostrum is occasionally light. The white or creamy-yellow parietal band extends over the parietals, the posterior tip of the frontal, and 3 to 5 supralabials. The chin is white with small black spots on the mental and first infralabials. The black nuchal band covers the tips of the parietals and 2 to 3 dorsals. It is usually reduced or interrupted ventrally. The black bands usually are 2 to 2% dorsals and ventrals long; they are sometimes interrupted ventrally. The red bands are long, encompassing 10 to 23 dorsals and ventrals. They are usually immaculate or have small, irregular black tips on some scales. The white or creamy-white bands are immaculate and 1 to 1% dorsals and 1 ventrallong. The black bands of the tail are longer than the white bands. The anterior white tail bands may have a red spot or a narrow red band with some black spots or irregular, black-tipped scales.
The males have 9 to 13 (11.7) and the females 14 to 18 (16.3) black body bands. The males have 5 to 6 (5.3) and the females have 4 to 5 (4.6) black tail bands (Roze 1996: 183). 
CommentColor plate 77 in VILLA et al. 1988. Venomous! 
EtymologyGreek from hippus meaning horse and crepis meaning a boot or sandal, apparently alluding to the horseshoe type of head coloration, formed by the white parietal band and black nostril band, reduced on the supralabials, that somewhat reminds one of a horse-shoe. 
  • Campbell, J.A. 1998. Amphibians and reptiles of northern Guatemala, the Yucatán, and Belize. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, xiii + 380 pp. - get paper here
  • Campbell, J.A. & Lamar, W.W. 1989. The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America. Comstock Publishing/Cornell University Press, Ithaca
  • Gower, D.; Garrett, K. & Stafford, P. 2012. Snakes. Firefly Books, Buffalo, NY,<br />144 p..
  • Lee, J. C. 2000. A field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of the Maya world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
  • Lee, J.C. 1996. The amphibians and reptiles of the Yucatán Peninsula. Comstock, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 500 pp.
  • Lillywhite, H.B. 2022. Discovering snakes in wild places. ECO Publishing, Rodeo, NM, 164 pp. - get paper here
  • Peters, Wilhem Carl Hartwig 1861. Über neue Schlangen des Königl. zoologischen Museums: Typhlops striolatus, Geophidium dubium, Streptophorus (Ninia) maculatus, Elaps hippocrepis. Monatsber. königl. Akad. Wiss. Berlin. 1861 (October): 922-925 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, K. P. 1936. Notes on Central American and Mexican coral snakes. Field Mus. Nat. Hist. Zool. Ser. 20: 205-216. - get paper here
  • Silva Jr, Nelson Jorge da; Marcus Augusto Buononato & Darlan Tavares Feitosa 2016. AS COBRAS-CORAIS DO NOVO MUNDO. In: Silva (ed) Cobras corais do Brasil. Goiânia, pp. 41-69
  • Stafford, P.J. 2000. The distributional status of the coral snake Micrurus nigrocinctus (Serpentes: elapidae) in Belize and eastern Guatemala. Herpetological Review 31 (2): 78-82 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
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