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Micrurus pyrrhocryptus (COPE, 1862)

IUCN Red List - Micrurus pyrrhocryptus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Argentinian coral snake
Portuguese: Cobra-Coral, Coral, Coral-Verdadeira, Cobra-Coral-de-Mato-Grosso-do-Sul 
SynonymElaps pyrrhocryptus COPE 1862: 347
Elaps marcgravii (WIED-NEUWIED) — BOULENGER 1896:428
Elaps simonsii BOULENGER 1902: 338
Elaps frontalis — LÖNNBERG 1902:461
Micrurus lemniscatus SERIÉ 1936
Micrurus pyrrhocryptus SCHMIDT 1936
Micrurus lemniscatus frontalis AMARAL 1944 (part.)
Micrurus frontalis pyrrhocryptus SHREVE 1953
Micrurus frontalis pyrrhocryptus — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 209
Micrurus pyrrhocryptus — CEI 1993
Micrurus frontalis pyrrhocryptus — WELCH 1994: 83
Micrurus pyrrhocryptus — LEYNAUD & BUCHER 1999: 37
Micrurus pyrrhocryptus — CAMPBELL & LAMAR 2004: 225
Micrurus pyrrhocryptus — SCHMIDT & KUNZ 2005: 43
Micrurus pyrrhocryptus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 453
Micrurus pyrrhocryptus — NOGUEIRA et al. 2019 
DistributionSW Brazil (SW Mato Grosso), W/SW Bolivia, Paraguay, N Argentina (Santa Fe, Mendoza, Formosa, Rio Negro)

Type locality: “Vermejo River, Argentine Chaco” = Río Bermejo, Argentina.  
TypesHolotype: ANSP 5395, USNM 5395 (lost) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: (1) Dorsal pattern of white, red, and black triads; (2) hemipenis and tail relatively short; (3) two supralabials entering orbit; (4) mental usually separated from chinshields by medial contact of first pair of infralabials; (5) anal scale usually divided; (6) first triad complete; (7) 5-12 red vertebrals separating first triad from parietals; (8) all dorsal head scales including parietals black, edged in white; (9) red rings with heavier black apices than white rings; (10) white rings longest dorsally, constricted or broken ventrally by black rings; (11) chin red with no to moderate black mottling and edging of scales; mental mostly or entirely red; (12) 6-14 triads on body, 1-1.67 on tail [HARVEY et al. 2003]. 
CommentSynonymy partly following that of CEI 1993 and HARVEY et al. 2003, CAMPBELL & LAMAR 2004, and WALLACH et al. 2014.

Subspecies: Micrurus tricolor has been considered as a subspecies or synonym of pyrrhocryptus, but has been elevated to species status by Silva & Sites 1999, although only some authors have followed that decision.

Distribution: tricolor is not in Bolivia but pyrrhocryptus from Boliva has been misidentified as tricolor (Harvey et al. 2003). See map in Nogueira et al. 2019.


Similar species: Mimicked by the nonvenomous species Lystrophis pulcher. 
EtymologyNamed after Greek “pyros”, meaning "fire" and “kryptos”, meaning "hidden", perhaps alluding to the secretive habits of this brightly colored snake. 
  • Borteiro, C., Abegg, A. D., Oda, F. H., Cardozo, D., Kolenc, F., Etchandy, I., ... & Baldo, D. 2021. Aberrant colouration in wild snakes: case study in Neotropical taxa and a review of terminology. Salamandra 57 (1): 124-138 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, George A. 1902. List of the fishes, batrachians, and reptiles collected by the late Mr. P. O. Simons in the Provinces of Mendoza and Cordova, Argentina. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (7) 9 (53): 336-339 - get paper here
  • Cacciali, Pier; Norman J. Scott, Aida Luz Aquino Ortíz, Lee A. Fitzgerald, and Paul Smith 2016. The Reptiles of Paraguay: Literature, Distribution, and an Annotated Taxonomic Checklist. SPECIAL PUBLICATION OF THE MUSEUM OF SOUTHWESTERN BIOLOGY, NUMBER 11: 1–373 - get paper here
  • Campbell, J.A. & Lamar, W.W. 1989. The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America. Comstock Publishing/Cornell University Press, Ithaca
  • Cano, Paula Daniela; Héctor Alejandro Ball, Matías Federico Carpinetto, Germán Darío Peña 2015. Reptile checklist of Río Pilcomayo National Park, Formosa, Argentina. Check List 11 (3): 1658 - get paper here
  • Cei, J. M. 1993. Reptiles del noroeste, nordeste y este de la Argentina. Museo Regionale Sci. Naturale Torino, Monografie 14: 1-949
  • Cope, E.D. 1862. Catalogues of the reptiles obtained during the explorations of the Parana Paraguay, Vermejo and Uruguay rivers, by Capt. Thos. J. Page, U.S.N.; and of those procured by Lieut. N. Michier, U. S. Top. Eng., Commander of the expedition conducting the su Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 14: 346-359. - get paper here
  • Costa, Henrique Caldeira; Renato Silveira Bérnils 2018. Répteis do Brasil e suas Unidades Federativas: Lista de espécies. Herpetologia Brasileira 7 (1): 11-57
  • Da SILVA, N. J. JR. & J. W. JR. SITES 1999. Revision of the Micrurus frontalis complex (Serpentes: Elapidae). Herpetological Monographs 13: 142-194 - get paper here
  • DI-BERNARDO, MARCOS; MARCIO BORGES-MARTINS & NELSON JORGE DA SILVA, JR. 2007. A new species of coralsnake (Micrurus: Elapidae) from southern Brazil. Zootaxa 1447: 1–26 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Harvey M. B., J. Aparicio E, and L. Gonzalez A. 2003. Revision of the venomous snakes of Bolivia: Part 1. The coralsnakes (Elapidae: Micrurus). Annals of the Carnegie Museum 72: 1-52 - get paper here
  • Hoge,A.R. 1956. Uma nova especie de Micrurus (Serp. Elap.) do Brasil. Mem. Inst. Butantan 27: 67-72 - get paper here
  • Kacoliris F.P.; Berkunsky I. & Williams J. 2006. Herpetofauna of Impenetrable, Argentinean Great Chaco. Phyllomedusa 5 (2): 149-158 - get paper here
  • Leynaud, Gerardo C. and Enrique H. Bucher 1999. La fauna de serpientes del Chaco Sudamericano: diversidad, distribución geografica y estado de conservación. Academia Nacional de Ciencias Miscelanea (98):1-46
  • 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
  • PELEGRIN, N. & LEYNAUD, G. C. & BUCHER, E. H. 2006. Reptile fauna of the Chancaní Reserve (Arid Chaco, Argentina): species list and conservation status [Short Note]. Herpetozoa 19 (1/2): 85-86 - get paper here
  • Pérez-Iglesias, Juan Manuel; Jofré, Laura E.; Rueda, Marta Patricia 2017. Primeros registros de la herpetofauna en dos areas naturales protegidas de la provincia de Santiago del Estero (Argentina). Cuad. herpetol. 32 (1): 49-57 - get paper here
  • Pesci, Giuliano; Sanchez, José Manuel; Muniz Leão, Suelem; Pelegrin, Nicolás 2018. Reptiles y anfibios de una localidad del Chaco Húmedo en Formosa, Argentina. Cuad. herpetol. 32 (1): 47-54 - get paper here
  • Roze, J.A. 1994. Notes on the taxonomy of venomous coral snakes (Elapidae) of South America. Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 30: 177-185. - get paper here
  • Schmidt, D. & Kunz, K. 2005. Ernährung von Schlangen. Natur und Tier Verlag, Münster, 159 pp. - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P. 1936. Preliminary account of coral snakes of South America. Zoological Series of Field Museum of Natural History 20 (19): 189-203 - get paper here
  • Scrocchi G J. 1990. El genero Micrurus (Serpentes: Elapidae) en la Republica Argentina. Boll. Mus. Reg. Sci. Nat. Torino 8 (2): 343-368.
  • Scrocchi, G.J.; Moreta, J.C. & Kretzschmar, S. 2006. Serpientes del Noroeste Argento [Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca, La Rioja, Santiago del Estero]. Fundación Miguel Lillo, Tucumán, 178 pp.
  • Scrocchi, Gustavo J.; Cristian S. Abdala,Javier Nori, Hussam Zaher 2010. Reptiles de la provincia de Río Negro, Argentina. Fondo Ed. Rionegrino, 249 pp.
  • Shreve, Benjamin 1953. Notes on the races of Micrurus frontalis (Duméril, Duméril and Bibron). Breviora (16): 1-6 - get paper here
  • Sosa, R; Senzano, M & Schalk, C M; 2019. Micrurus pyrrhocryptus Feeding habits. Herpetological Review 50 (3): 518-519 - get paper here
  • Trutnau, L. 2005. Einige Bemerkungen zur Naturgeschichte, Pflege und Nachzucht der “Falschen Korallenschlange’ Lystrophis pulcher (JAN 1863). Herpetofauna 25 (142): 25-35 [2003/2004] - 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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