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Scolecophis atrocinctus (SCHLEGEL, 1837)

IUCN Red List - Scolecophis atrocinctus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Black-banded Snake
G: Schwarzgebänderte Wühltrugnatter 
SynonymCalamaria atrocincta SCHLEGEL 1837: 47
Scolecophis atrocincta — FITZINGER 1843: 25
Homalocranion atro-cinctus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 864
Elaps zonatus HALLOWELL 1855: 35
Platycranion sp. — JAN 1863
Homalocranion atrocinctus — JAN 1866
Pseudoboa petola — PICADO 1931
Scolecophis atrocinctus — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 272
Scolecophis atrocinctus — MATTISON 2007: 100
Scolecophis atrocinctus — KÖHLER 2008: 275
Scolecophis atrocinctus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 664 
DistributionGuatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica

Type locality: see comment  
Reproductionoviparous (MARINEROS 2000) 
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 0519, a 440 mm male (Gay) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Wilson and Williams (2002: 758.1) defined Scolecophis as follows: “a colubrid genus characterized by a slender body; a head only slightly distinct from the body; head shape normal; dorsal head scutellation consisting of a normal rostral followed by two internasals, two prefrontals, two supraoculars, one frontal, and two parietals; lateral head scutellation of a divided nasal, a single loreal, one preocular, two postoculars, no suboculars, 1+1+1 temporals; seven supralabials, with the 3rd and 4th entering the orbit; six or seven infralabials, with three or four touching the anterior chin shields, the fourth the largest, and the first pair in medial contact, separating the mental and ante- rior chinshields; dorsal scales are smooth and in 15 rows; ventrals 181–198; cloacal scute (= anal plate) divided; subcaudals 45–54 and paired; maximum known TL [= total length] about 470 mm (KU 125497 from Costa Rica); relative tail length 0.136–0.191; maxillary teeth 13–14, the two posterior teeth grooved laterally, the grooves broad and shallow; hemipenis simple with single sulcus spermaticus, distal two-thirds spinose, spines increasing in size proximally, terminating in several enlarged basal spines, and the proximal one-third of the organ naked; a body pat- tern of alternating black and pale rings, the black rings 11⁄2–4 scales long, the pale rings 2–4 scales long, pale rings are cream-colored on the first 4–5 scale rows, each scale with a black tip (except in the first row), reddish orange on dorsal rows 5–11 or 6–10, black rings number 24–49 on body and 5–10 on tail; head pattern of a black head cap with a broad pale band across the prefrontals extending laterally to the lip line, a postocular pale spot, and a pale nuchal band (cream laterally, reddish orange middorsally) beginning on the posterior portion of the parietals and extending 1–21⁄2 middorsals beyond.”
CommentSynonymy that of PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970.

Description: black bands alternate with bands that are redish dorsally but whitish laterally.

Distribution: the type locality given by SCHLEGEL was “Chile”, obviously in error.

Type species: Calamaria atrocincta SCHLEGEL 1837 is the type species of the genus Scolecophis FITZINGER 1843.

Diet: centipedes, arachnids, insects (Jackson et al. 2019). 
EtymologyThe species name atrocinctus is derived from the Latin ater, meaning "black," and cingula, meaning "girdle," in reference to the black rings around the body of this snake.

The genus name Scolecophis is derived from the Greek skolex, meaning "a worm or grub," and ophis, meaning "snake," perhaps in reference to the semifossorial habits of this snake. 
  • CHERNOV, E., E. P. HOFMANN, AND W. WUSTER 2020. Scolecophis atrocinctus (Black-Banded Snake). Reproduction/Combat Behavior. Herpetological Review 51: 628-629.
  • Duméril, A. M. C., Bibron, G. & DUMÉRIL, A. H. A., 1854. Erpétologie générale ou histoire naturelle complète des reptiles. Tome septième. Deuxième partie, comprenant l'histoire des serpents venimeux. Paris, Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret: i-xii + 781-1536 - get paper here
  • Fitzinger, L. 1843. Systema Reptilium, fasciculus primus, Amblyglossae. Braumüller et Seidel, Wien: 106 pp. - get paper here
  • Guerra Centeno, Dennis; Héctor Fuentes Rousselin & David Morán Villatoro 2012. Serpientes de Guatemala: Guía para didentificación de especies. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, 186 pp.
  • Guibé, J. & Roux-Estève, R. 1972. Les types de Schlegel (Ophidiens) présents dans les collections du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris. Zoologische Mededelingen 47: 129-134 - get paper here
  • Hallowell, E. 1855. Contributions to South American Herpetology. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadephia (2) 3: 33-36 - get paper here
  • Jackson TNW, Jouanne H and Vidal N 2019. Snake Venom in Context: Neglected Clades and Concepts. Front. Ecol. Evol. 7:332 - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1866. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 15. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Juárez-Peña, Carlos, Ángel Sosa Bartuano and Silvia Sigüenza-Mejia. 2016. New herpetofaunal records for Parque Nacional Montecristo, El Salvador. El Salvador, Santa Ana. Mesoamerican Herpetology 3(4): 1107–1113 - get paper here
  • Köhler, G. 2008. Reptiles of Central America. 2nd Ed. Herpeton-Verlag, 400 pp.
  • Kunz, Kriton 2015. Schlangen, die Wirbellose fressen. Terraria-Elaphe 2015 (5): 14-20 - get paper here
  • Marineros, Leonel 2000. Guia de las Serpientes de Honduras. Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., 252 pp.
  • Mata-Silva, V, DeSantis DL, García-Padilla E, Johnson JD, Wilson LD. 2019. The endemic herpetofauna of Central America: a casualty of anthropocentrism. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13 (1) [General Section]: 1–64 (e168) - get paper here
  • Mattison, Chris 2007. The New Encyclopedia of Snakes. Princeton University Press
  • McConnell, G.J. 2013. A field guide to the snakes of Costa Rica. Edition Chimaira, 233 pp. [review in Reptilia 114: 74, 2015]
  • McCranie J R 2011. The snakes of Honduras. SSAR, Salt Lake City, 725 pp.
  • McCranie, James R. 2015. A checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Honduras, with additions, comments on taxonomy, some recent taxonomic decisions, and areas of further studies needed. Zootaxa 3931 (3): 352–386 - get paper here
  • Mertens, R. 1952. Die Amphibien und Reptilien von El Salvador. Abh. senckenb. naturf. Ges. (Frankfurt) (No. 487): 120 pp.
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • 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
  • Picado T. C. 1931. Serpientes Venenosas de Costa Rica. Univ. Costa Rica-Edit (re-print 1976). Costa Rica, viii + 241 pp.
  • Porras, L.W. 2006. Die Schlangen des costa-ricanischen Trockenwaldes. Reptilia (Münster) 11 (61): 32-37 - get paper here
  • Porras, L.W. & Solórzano, A. 2006. Costa Rica’s venomous snakes. Reptilia (GB) (48): 11-17 - get paper here
  • RENJIFO, J. M. & M. LUNDBERG 2003. Una especie nuevo de serpiente coral (Elapidae, Micrurus), de la region de Urra, municipio de Tierra Alta, Cordoba, noroccidente de Colombia. Revista de la Academia Colombiana Ciencias Exactas Fisicas y Naturales, 27 (102): 141-144.
  • Ruiz Alemán, Amaru, and Javier Sunyer 2015. Scolecophis atrocinctus (Schlegel, 1837). Nicaragua: Chontales. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2(3): 359 - get paper here
  • Savage, J.M. 2002. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna Between Two Continents, Between Two Seas. University of Chicago Press, 934 pp. [review in Copeia 2003 (1): 205]
  • Schlegel, H. 1837. Essai sur la physionomie des serpens. Partie Descriptive. La Haye (J. Kips, J. HZ. et W. P. van Stockum), 606 S. + xvi - get paper here
  • Solorzano, A. 2004. Serpientes de Costa Rica - Snakes of Costa Rica. Editorial INBio, Costa Rica, 792 pp.
  • Sunyer, Javier 2014. An updated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Nicaragua. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1 (2): 186–202. - 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.
  • Wilson, L. D. and K. L. Williams 2002. Scolecophis, S. atrocinctus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles 758.1–758.4 - get paper here
  • Wilson, L. D., & MEYER, J. R. 1985. The Snakes of Honduras. 2d ed. Milwaukee Publ. Mus. Publ., Biol. & Geol. No. 6, 150 pp.
  • Wilson, Larry David and Vicente Mata-Silva 2015. A checklist and key to the snakes of the Tantilla clade (Squamata: Colubridae), with comments on distribution and conservation. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (4): 418 - get paper here
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