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Micrurus langsdorffi (WAGLER, 1824)

IUCN Red List - Micrurus langsdorffi - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Confused coral snake, Langsdorff's Coral Snake
Portuguese: Cobra-Coral, Cobra-Coral-Amarela, Cobra-Coral-Amarela-e-Vermelha, Cobra-Coral-Vermelha, Coral-Verdadeira 
SynonymElaps langsdorffi WAGLER 1824: 10
Elaps imperator COPE 1868: 110
Elaps batesi GÜNTHER 1868: 428
Micrurus mimosus AMARAL 1935: 221
Micrurus mimosus AMARAL 1937: 1765
Micrurus langsdorffi langsdorffi — ROZE 1967: 30
Micrurus langsdorffi langsdorffi — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 211
Micrurus langsdorffi langsdorffi — DUELLMAN 1978: 260
Micrurus langsdorffi langsdorffi — WELCH 1994: 85
Micrurus langsdorffi — CARVALHO 2002
Micrurus langsdorffi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 448
Micrurus langsdorffi — NOGUEIRA et al. 2019 
DistributionS Colombia, N Peru, NW Brazil (incl. Amazonas), Upper Amazon, S Ecuador

Type locality: “Habitat in adja-centibus flumini Japurá” [Brazil or Colombia, Rio Jápura from its mouth (Brazil, 03°08'S, 64°66'W) to Araracuara (Colombia, 00°24'S, 72°17'W)] according to the original description and Vanzolini (1981).  
TypesLectotype: ZSM 2250/0, female, collected by Spix and Martius expedition to Brazil, 1817-1820
Holotype: ANSP 6793, Peru, Rio Napo or Rio Marañon [imperator] 
DiagnosisDefinition: A single-banded coral snake with a black cap and abasie black-white-red color pattern but with a complex polychromatic polymorphism. The black bands may be absent altogether, absent only ventrally, or only black and white bands may be present. Frequently, white or light spots are present on some upper head shields. Males have no supraanal tubercles (Roze 1996: 185).

Description: Males have 202 to 210 (205.9) and females have 218 to 229 (224.1) ventrals; subcaudals 46 to 56 (50.4) in males and 32 to 37 (34.6) in females; 1+1, occasionally 1+2, temporals. Examined: 26 males and 26 females, including all holotypes. The single-banded coloration shows a remarkable variation, representing a polymorphie variety of color patterns, particularly in the Iquitos region of the Peruvian Amazon. It nearly defies a systematic description. The "normal" color pattern consists of a black head cap that occupies the parietals and sides of the head. Light spots may be present or absent on the internasals and prefrontals. The body is covered by black bands alternating with red bands and delimited by aseries of white or yellowish spots, like pearly crossbands. The latter occupy one dorsal or less and at times form a poorly defined white band on the venter. In one variation, the red bands are completely obliterated by black and the body is black dorsally with nearly white crossbands. In many cases of the all-black coloration, the venter is red and white only or only white. In another variation, the black bands are replaced by yellow or brown bands, producing a yellow and red or brown and red body pattern with the pearly bands present or absent. Irregular black, brown, or grey-tipped scales or spots are present on all dorsal bands. In the yellow-red or yellow-reddish-white color pattern, the snout also is yellow or brownish yellow and so are most of the supralabials. The first nuchal "black" band is black, or yellow, or brown, depending on the color pattern. The nuchal band does not cover the tips of the parietals and it usuallY is incomplete ventrally. The chin, depending on the color pattern, may be white and red, or white with black spots on the mental, infralabials, and genials, or the chin can be almost entirely black with a few white, grayish, yellowish, or reddish spots. The original black bands are 2 to 4 dorsals and 2 to 3 ventrals lang, if present. The red bands are 2 to 6, up to 10 dorsals long with irregular but conspieuous black-tipped scales. The last body'band is red, followed by black and white (or some variation thereof) tail bands. In some specimens a red spot is present on each white tail band. Counting the original black bands, the males have 18 to 37 (30.2) and females 29 to 47 (37.3) black body bands. This count doubles in speeimens in which the "red" bands are also black. The males have 6 to 11 (8.1), usually less than 11, and the females have 5 to 8 (6.3), usually less than 8, black tail bands (Roze 1996: 185). 
CommentSynonymy partly after PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970.


Subspecies: Micrurus langsdorffi ornatissimus has been elevated to full species status.

Distribution: not in Venezuela (Luis Esqueda, pers. comm., 21 April 2016, see also Natera-Mumaw et al. 2015). See map in Nogueira et al. 2019. 
Etymologynamed after Grigori Ivanovitch Langsdorff or Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff (1774-1852), a Prussian noble, diplomat and naturalist who lived most of his life in Russia. He was nominated consul general in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1813. See Bastos & Sa 2011 for further biographical details. 
  • Amaral, A. 1935. Estudos sobre ophídios neotropicos XXXIII. Novas especies de ophídios do Colombia. Mem. Inst. Butantan 9: 219-223 + 1 plate - get paper here
  • Amaral,A. do 1937. New species of ophidians from Colombia. Compte Rendu 12th Congress Internat. Zool., Lisbon 3 [139 (141)]: 1762-1767 [1935]
  • Bastos, Francisco Inácio & Magali Romero Sa 2011. The scientist as historian: Paulo Vanzolini and the origins of zoology in Brazil. História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro 18 (4): 1021-1038 - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Campbell, J.A. & Lamar, W.W. 1989. The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America. Comstock Publishing/Cornell University Press, Ithaca
  • Cope, E.D. 1868. An examination of the Reptilia and Batrachia obtained by the Orton Expedition to Equador and the Upper Amazon, with notes on other species. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 20: 96-140 - get paper here
  • Cunha, O.R. da and Nascimento,F.P. 1982. Ofídios da Amazônia. XVII. Revalidação de Micrurus ornatissimus (Jan, 1858) diferenciada de M. Langsdorffi (Wagler, 1824) e distribuição geográfica das duas espécies (Ophidia: Elapidae). Bol. Mus. Para. Emílio Goeldi (Zool.), Belém (116): 1-19. - get paper here
  • Duellman, W. E. 1978. The biology of an equatorial herpetofauna in Amazonian Ecuador. Misc. Publ. Univ. Kans. Mus. Nat. Hist. 65: 1-352 - get paper here
  • FEITOSA, DARLAN TAVARES; NELSON JORGE DA SILVA JR., MATHEUS GODOY PIRES, HUSSAM ZAHER & ANA LÚCIA DA COSTA PRUDENTE 2015. A new species of monadal coral snake of the genus Micrurus (Serpentes, Elapidae) from western Amazon. Zootaxa 3974 (4): 538–554
  • Gonzalez R. C. et al. 2020. Lista dos Nomes Populares dos Répteis no Brasil – Primeira Versão. Herpetologia Brasileira 9 (2): 121 – 214 - get paper here
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  • Lima Moraes, L. J. C. de, do Nascimento Rainha, R., de Pinho Werneck, F., de Souza Oliveira, A. F., Gascon, C., & de Carvalho, V. T. 2022. Amphibians and reptiles from a protected area in western Brazilian Amazonia (Reserva Extrativista do Baixo Juruá). Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia, 62, e202262054-e202262054 - get paper here
  • Morato de Carvalho, C. 2002. Descrição de uma nova espécie de Micrurus do Estado de Roraima, Brasil (Serpentes, Elapidae). Pap. Avul. Zool., Sao Paulo 42(8):183-192 - get paper here
  • Nogueira, Cristiano C.; Antonio J.S. Argôlo, Vanesa Arzamendia, Josué A. Azevedo, Fausto E. Barbo, Renato S. Bérnils, Bruna E. Bolochio, Marcio Borges-Martins, Marcela Brasil-Godinho, Henrique Braz, Marcus A. Buononato, Diego F. Cisneros-Heredia, 2019. Atlas of Brazilian snakes: verified point-locality maps to mitigate the Wallacean shortfall in a megadiverse snake fauna. South American J. Herp. 14 (Special Issue 1):1-274 - get paper here
  • Pérez-Santos,C. & Moreno, A.G. 1988. Ofidios de Colombia. Museo reegionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino, Monographie VI, 517 pp.
  • Peters, James A.; Donoso-Barros, Roberto & Orejas-Miranda, Braulio 1970. Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: Part I Snakes. Bull. US Natl. Mus. 297: 347 pp. - get paper here
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  • Schmidt, Karl P. & Walker, Warren F. 1943. Peruvian snakes from the University of Arequipa. Zoological Series of Field Museum of Zoology 24 (26): 279-296 - get paper here
  • Soini, Pekka 1974. Polychromatism in a Population of Micrurus langsdorffi. Journal of Herpetology 8 (3): 267-269 - get paper here
  • Spix, J.B. von. 1824. Serpentum brasiliensium species novae ou histoire naturelle des espèces nouvelles de serpens, recueillies et observées pendant le voyage dans l'intérieur du Brésil dans les années 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820, exécuté par ordre de sa majesté le Roi de Bavi Typis Franc. Seraph. Hübschmanni, Monachii viii + 75 pp. - get paper here
  • Torres-Carvajal O, Pazmiño-Otamendi G, Salazar-Valenzuela D. 2019. Reptiles of Ecuador: a resource-rich portal, with a dynamic checklist and photographic guides. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13 (1): [General Section]: 209–229 (e178) - get paper here
  • Valencia, J. H., K. Garzón-Tello & M. E. Barragán-Paladines 2016. Serpientes venenosas del Ecuador: sistemática, taxonomía, historia natural, conservación, envenenamiento y aspectos antropológicos. Quito, Ecuador, Fundación Herpetológica Gustavo Orcés, Universidad de Texas, Fondo Ambiental Nacional, 652 pp. [review in HR 49 (1): 152, 2018]
  • Wagler, J. 1824. Serpentum Brasiliensium species novae, ou histoire naturelle des espèces nouvelles de serpens. In: Jean de Spix, Animalia nova sive species novae. [NAtrix bahiensis: 27,. Monaco, Typis Franc. Seraph. Hübschmanni, vii + 75 pp.
  • Waldez, F., Menin, M., & Vogt, R. C. 2013. Diversidade de anfíbios e répteis Squamata na região do baixo rio Purus, Amazônia Central, Brasil. Biota Neotropica, 13: 300–316 - 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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