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Tropidophis melanurus (SCHLEGEL, 1837)

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Higher TaxaTropidophiidae, Henophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesTropidophis melanurus melanurus (SCHLEGEL 1837)
Tropidophis melanurus dysodes SCHWARTZ & THOMAS 1960
Tropidophis melanurus ericksoni SCHWARTZ & THOMAS 1960 
Common NamesE: Giant Trope, Wood Snake
G: Kubanische Zwergboa 
SynonymBoa melanura SCHLEGEL 1837: 399
Tropidophis melanurus — BIBRON in DE LA SAGRA 1840: 208
Tropidophis melanurus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1844: 491
Tropidophis melanurus — JAN 1864
Ungualia [sic] melanura — GARMAN 1887: 278
Ungalia melanura — BOULENGER 1893: 111
Tropidophis melanurus melanurus — SCHWARTZ & OGREN 1956
Tropidophis melanurus — SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1991: 638
Tropidophis melanurus — MATTISON 1995: 112
Tropidophis melanurus — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 220
Tropidophis melanurus — MATTISON 2007: 137
Tropidophis melanurus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 754

Tropidophis melanurus dysodes SCHWARTZ & THOMAS, 1960
Tropidophis melanurus dysodes — SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1988
Tropidophis melanurus dysodes — POWELL & HENDERSON 2012

Tropidophis melanurus ericksoni SCHWARTZ & THOMAS, 1960
Tropidophis melanurus ericksoni — SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1988
Tropidophis melanurus ericksoni — POWELL & HENDERSON 2012 

melanurus: throughout Cuba with exception of range of T. m. dysodes. Type locality: Cuba.

dysodes: Pinar del Rio Province, Cuba. Type locality: 1 km N La Coloma, Pinar del Rio Province, Cuba.

ericksoni: Isla de la Juventud.Type locality: Bibijagua, Isla de la Juventud.  
TypesHolotype: Unlocated (SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1988)
Holotype: AMNH 82893 [dysodes]
Holotype: AMNH 82897 [ericksoni] 
DiagnosisDESCRIPTION (including bucculentus, dysodes, ericksoni): Maximum total length 1057 mm; dorsal scale rows at midbody 25, 27, 28, or 29; dorsals from heavily keeled to not at all; middorsal row greatly widened, bicarinate on posterior fifth of body to level of vent; ventrals 183-217; subcaudals 29-39; supralabials 9-10/9-10; infralabials 11-14/11-14; preoculars usually 1/1; postoculars usually 3/3. Dorsal ground color tan, grayish tan, ashy gray, buff, dark brown, or reddish; dorsal pattern variable: (1) 4 conspicuous longitudinal lines, with or without dorsal blotches (usually 2 scales in length), lateral margins of dorsal blotches edged cream or white, conspicuous cephalic figure (T. m. melanurus, T. m. bucculentus); (2) zigzag or staggered dorsal blotches usually dark and prominent on lighter ground color (usually 3-4 scales long and bordered laterally by white or cream mark or line), median dark brown line beginning on neck and extending to vent (involving median and 2 paramedian scale rows), 2 other dark lines (on scale rows 10-11 and 6-7) begin anteriorly as dark line from naris through eye and across temporal area and continuing to base of tail, dark blotch on snout, head with well-defined, dark, cephalic pattern, supralabials clouded with brown, infralabials with discrete, black blotches (T. m. ericksoni); (3) orange-margined, dark dorsal blotches 3-5 scales wide (not in sharp contrast to dark brown ground color) in zigzag or staggered arrangement, dorsum with series of longitudinal lines, dark, rectangular, cephalic figure, supralabials suffused with dark brown, infralabials dotted with light and dark brown (T. m. dysodes); tail tip light or dark; venter buffy with irregular to dark brown blotches (especially prominent on posterior fifth of belly), or ventrals always clouded and stippled with brown having little or no distinct spotting, or heavy spotting on posterior third of venter and underside of tail (Schwartz & Henderson 1991: 638). 
CommentSubspecies: Tropidophis melanurus bucculentus COPE, 1868 has been elevated to full species status.

For illustrations see Cooper, 1958; Schwartz and Thomas, 1960; Petzold, 1963; Petzold, 1969; Schwartz and Henderson, 1985.

Type species: Boa melanura SCHLEGEL 1837: 399 is the type species of the genus Tropidophis BIBRON 1840.

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
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  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Brongersma, L.D. 1951. Some notes upon the anatomy of Tropidophis and Trachyboa (Serpentes). Zoologische Mededelingen 31: 107-124 - get paper here
  • Cooper, J.E. 1958. Ascent to Cueva del Aura. Maryland Nat. 28(1-4):2-16.
  • DAUVAL, ALEJANDRO HERNÁNDEZ & DAYLON FUNDORA CABALLERO. 2022. Actividad diaria y ciclo anual de Tropidophis melanurus (Squamata: Tropidophiidae) en el Jardín Botánico de Cienfuegos, Cuba. Novitates Caribaea (19): 12–23. - get paper here
  • Díaz, L. M. y Cádiz, A. 2020. A new species of Tropidophis (Squamata: Tropidophiidae) and molecular phylogeny of the Cuban radiation of the genus. Novitates Caribaea (16): 1-19; doi: 10.33800/nc.vi16.222 - get paper here
  • Duméril, A. M. C. and G. Bibron. 1837. Erpétologie Générale ou Histoire Naturelle Complete des Reptiles. Vol. 4. Libr. Encyclopédique Roret, Paris, 570 pp. - get paper here
  • Duméril, A. M. C. and G. Bibron. 1844. Erpetologie Générale ou Histoire Naturelle Complete des Reptiles. Vol.6. Libr. Encyclopédique Roret, Paris, 609 pp. - get paper here
  • Estrada, A.R. 1998. Anfibios y Reptiles Encontrados Durante 1988 y 1989 en Cayo Paredón Grande, Archipiélago de Sabana-Camagüey, Cuba. Carib. J. Sci. 34 (1-2): 106-112
  • Fong G, Ansel, Irelis Bignotte Giró, Karell Maure García 2013. Unsuccessful predation on the toad Peltophryne peltocephala (Bufonidae) by the Cuban snake Tropidophis melanurus (Tropidophiidae). Herpetology Notes 6: 73-75
  • Garman, S. 1887. On West Indian reptiles in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Cambridge, Mass. Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 24: 278-286. - get paper here
  • Gower, D.; Garrett, K. & Stafford, P. 2012. Snakes. Firefly Books, Buffalo, NY,<br />144 p..
  • Harrington, Sean M; Jordyn M de Haan, Lindsey Shapiro, Sara Ruane 2018. Habits and characteristics of arboreal snakes worldwide: arboreality constrains body size but does not affect lineage diversification. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 125 (1): 61–71 - get paper here
  • Hedges, S. B. and O. H. Garrido. 1992. A new species of Tropidophis from Cuba (Serpentes: Tropidophiidae). Copeia 1992 (4): 820-825 - get paper here
  • Hedges, S. Blair, Alberto R. Estrada and Luis M. Diaz 1999. New snake (Tropidophis) from western Cuba. Copeia 1999 (2): 376-381 - get paper here
  • Hedges, S.B. 2002. Morphological variation and the definition of species in the snake genus Tropidophis (Serpentes, Tropidophiidae). Bull. nat. Hist. Mus. London (Zool.) 68 (2): 83-90 - get paper here
  • Iturriaga, Manuel 2014. Autohemorrhaging behavior in the Cuban Dwarf Boa Tropidophis melanurus Schlegel, 1837 (Serpentes: Tropidophiidae). Herpetology Notes 7: 339-341 - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1864. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 5. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Mattison, Chris 1995. The Encyclopedia of Snakes. New York: Facts on File, 256 pp.
  • Mattison, Chris 2007. The New Encyclopedia of Snakes. Princeton University Press
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Petzold, H.G. 1963. Über die kubanische Zwergboa Tropidophis melanurus (Schlegel), eine selten importierte Schlange. DATZ 16 (1):16-20.
  • Petzold, H.G. 1969. Zur Haltung and Fortpflanzungsbiologieeiniger kubanischer Schlangen im Tierpark Berlin. Salamandra 5:124-40 - get paper here
  • RODRÍGUEZ-CABRERA, TOMÁS M.; ERNESTO MORELL SAVALL, ALEJANDRO M. RODRÍGUEZ-GONZÁLEZ, ALEJANDRO HERNÁNDEZ GÓMEZ & JAVIER TORRES. 2021. Predation on murid rodents by the Giant Trope, Tropidophis melanurus (Squamata: Tropidophiidae), with comments on predation of mammals by snakes of the genus Tropidophis. Reptiles & Amphibians 28(3): 516–519. - get paper here
  • RODRÍGUEZ-CABRERA, TOMÁS M.; ERNESTOL MORELL SAVAL, RAMSES ALONSO NAVARRO, JOHN Q. PIGGOT, ALEJANDRO M. RODRÍGUEZ-GONZÁLEZ & JAVIER TORRES. 2021. Giant dwarfs: Very large giant tropes Tropidophis melanurus (Squamata: Tropidophiidae), and new maximum size records for the species. Reptiles & Amphibians 28(3): 404–410. - get paper here
  • Rodríguez-Cabrera, Tomás M.; José Rosado, Ruben Marrero, and Javier Torres 2017. Birds in the diet of snakes in the genus Tropidophis (Tropidophiidae): Do prey items in museum specimens always reflect reliable data? . IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians 24 (1): 61–64 - get paper here
  • Rodríguez Schettino, Lourdes, Carlos A. Mancina & Vilma Rivalta González 2013. REPTILES OF CUBA: CHECKLIST AND GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTIONS. Smithsonian Herp. Inf. Serv. (144): 1-96 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Schwartz, A. & Henderson, R.W. 1991. Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, 720 pp.
  • Schwartz, A. and Henderson, R.W. 1985. A guide to the identification of the amphibians and reptiles of the West Indies exclusive of Hispaniola. Milwaukee Public Mus., 165 pp.
  • Schwartz, A. and Ogren, L.H. 1956. A collection of reptiles and amphibians from Cuba, with the descriptionof two new forms. Herpetologica 12 (2): 91-110 - get paper here
  • Schwartz, A. and Thomas, R. 1960. Four new snakes (Tropidophis, Dromicus, Alsophis) from the Isla de Pinos and Cuba. Herpetologica 16 (2): 73-90. - get paper here
  • Seung Hoon, Cha 2012. Snake, the world most beautifull curve [in Korean]. Hownext, 304 pp. [ISBN 978-89-965656-7-3] - get paper here
  • Sjöbeck, Anders 1992. Breeding Tropidophis melanurus melanurus in captivity. Litteratura Serpentium 12 (4): 97-99 - get paper here
  • Torres J, Rodríguez-Cabrera TM 2020. Diurnal refuge sharing between species of Cuban snakes of the genus Tropidophis (Squamata: Tropidophiidae). Caribbean Herpetology, 74: 1–2 - get paper here
  • Torres, Javier; Carlos Pérez-Penichet and Orlando Torres. 2014. Predation attempt by Tropidophis melanurus (Serpentes, Tropidophiidae) on Anolis porcus (Sauria, Dactyloidae). Herpetology Notes 7: 527-529 - 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.
  • Zaher, Hussam 1994. Les Tropidopheoidea (Serpentes; Alethinophidia) sont-ils réellement monophylétiques? Arguments en faveur de leur polyphylétisme. Comptes Rendus de L Academie Des Sciences Serie III - Sciences de La Vie - Life Sciences 317 (5): 471-478
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