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Ungaliophis continentalis MÜLLER, 1880

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Higher TaxaBoidae (Charinaidae, Ungaliophiinae), Henophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Isthmian Dwarf Boa
G: Mittelamerikanische Zwergboa
S: Boilla del Istmo 
SynonymUngaliophis continentalis MÜLLER 1880: 142
Peropodum guatemalensis BOCOURT 1882: 523
Ungaliophis continentalis — BOULENGER 1893: 114
Ungaliophis continentalis — VILLA et al. 1988
Ungaliophis continentalis — LINER 1994
Ungaliophis continentalis — MATTISON 1995: 132
Ungaliophis continentalis — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 223
Ungaliophis continentalis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 775
Ungaliophis continentalis — REYNOLDS & HENDERSON 2018: 32 
DistributionMexico (Chiapas), Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua (JANSEN & KÖHLER 2003), elevation (Honduras): 990 m

Type locality: Retalhuléu, southwestern Guatemala  
TypesHolotype: NMBA = Naturhistorisches Museum Basel no. 427. 
DiagnosisDefinition (genus). “(Modified from Bogert, 1968a) Relatively small tropidopheids (760 mm TL.) with the head distinct from neck, relatively slender and compressed body and a short, prehensile tail (8.5-12.4% of TL). Males have well-developed anal spurs; these may be present, although not as well developed, in some females. The eye is moderate in size (its diameter is greater than its distance to the lip) with a vertically elliptical pupil. The anterior dorsal cephalic scales are relatively large, especially the frontal and the single prefrontal. The parietals are practically indistinguishable from the dorsals. There are two nasals (with nostril in anterior nasal), one loreal and one preocular, and 2-3 postoculars. Supralabials number 8-10 (two or three reaching the eye), and infralabials 9-11, the first pair of the latter in broad contact behind the moderately large mental, followed posteriorly by 2-3 pairs of chin shields. Tubercles are present on all cephalic scales. The dorsal scales are smooth (except for minute tubercles), in 19-25 rows at midbody, reducing to 17 or 15 near the vent. Ventral scales range from 204 to 258. Subcaudals are single, numbering 39-46. The anal plate is also single, and the tail ends in a blunt spine. The premaxilla is toothless and has an ascending process. The maxillae have 12-15 teeth, the first 4-5 larger and separated from the posterior ones by a short a diastema, all decreasing in size posteriorly. The palatine has 5-8, the pterygoid 11-15, and the dentary 13-15 teeth. The hemipenes are relatively long and bilobed. The sulcus spermaticus appears to bifurcate near the base, and each branch of the sulcus extends to the terminus of the lobe. The basal portion is plicate and calyces on the lobes lack crenate edges.” (Villa & Wilson 1990)

Diagnosis (genus). “These small, slender-bodied boas differ from all other Tropidopheidae by having a relatively enormous, azygous prefrontal, and 19-25 rows of dorsal scales at midbody.” (Villa & Wilson 1990)

Diagnosis (continentalis). A species of Ungaliophis with 25 rows of scales at midbody, reducing to 15at the vent. Color is grayish brown with dark oval vertebral and paravertebral blotches. The venter is heavily stippled with black. The rostral is in broad contact with the prefrontal, separating the small internasals. The prefrontal and frontal are subequal in size, or the prefrontal somewhat larger. Supraoculars are small, less than half the area of the frontal.There are 9-10 supralabials, two entering the orbit; 2 postoculars; and 14 maxillary teeth. (Villa & Wilson 1990)

Alternative description: McCranie 2011: 72 
CommentRelative abundance in Honduras: rare

Distribution: Not in Costa Rica fide F. Bolanos (pers. comm.).

Type species: Ungaliophis continentalis MÜLLER 1880: 142 is the type species of the genus Ungaliophis MÜLLER 1880.

Type genus: Ungaliophis is the type genus of the subfamily Ungaliophiinae. Ungaliopheinae McDowell, 1987 is an incorrect original spelling of Ungaliophiinae MCDowell, 1987, as decided by the ICZN (2020).

Wilcox et al. (2002) extablished a new family for Exiliboa and Ungaliophis, Ungaliophiidae, based on DNA sequence analysis.

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
EtymologyThe name continentalis is derived from the Latin noun continens, meaning "continent" and the Latin suffix -alis, meaning "pertaining to," in reference to the continental (i.e., non-insular) distribution of this snake.

The genus name Ungaliophis is derived from Ungalia, a boid genus no longer recognized as valid, and ophis, snake. The gender is neuter. 
  • Bocourt, M. E. 1873. In: A. Duméril, M. F. Bocourt, and F. Mocquard, (1870-1909), Etudes sur les reptiles, p. i-xiv; In Recherches Zoologiques pour servir a l'Histoire de Ia Faune de l'Amérique Centrale et du Mexique. Mission Scientifique au Mexique et dans l'Amérique Ce Imprimerie Impériale, Paris, Livr. 2-15, pp. 33-860. - get paper here
  • Bogert,C.M. 1968. The variations and affinities of the dwarf boas of the genus Ungaliophis. American Museum Novitates 2340: 1-26 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Burger, R.M. 2004. Dwarf boas of the Caribbean. Reptilia (GB) (35): 43-47 - get paper here
  • Conant, R. 1966. A second record for Ungaliophis continentalis from México. Herpetologica 22 (2): 157-160. - get paper here
  • 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
  • Heimes, P. 2016. Snakes of Mexico. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 572 pp
  • ICZN 2020. Opinion 2454 (Case 3688) – Charinidae Gray, 1849 (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes): emended to Charinaidae to remove homonymy with Charinidae Quintero, 1986 (Arachnida, Amblypygi); Ungaliopheinae McDowell, 1987 (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes): emended Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 77(1), 63-65 - get paper here
  • Jansen, M. & G. Koehler 2002. Biogeographische Analyse der Herpetofauna von ausgewählten Hochlandgebieten Nicaraguas. Salamandra 38 (4): 269-286 - get paper here
  • Johnson, Jerry D.; Vicente Mata-Silva, Elí García Padilla, and Larry David Wilson 2015. The Herpetofauna of Chiapas, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (3): 272–329. - get paper here
  • Köhler, G. 2008. Reptiles of Central America. 2nd Ed. Herpeton-Verlag, 400 pp.
  • Köhler, Gunther 1997. Geographic Distribution. Ungaliophis continentalis. Herpetological Review 28 (4): 211 - get paper here
  • Mattison, Chris 1995. The Encyclopedia of Snakes. New York: Facts on File, 256 pp.
  • McCranie J R 2011. The snakes of Honduras. SSAR, Salt Lake City, 725 pp.
  • McCranie, J. & Castañeda, F.E. 2005. The herpetofauna of Parque Nacional Pico Bonito, Honduras. Phyllomedusa 4 (1): 3-16 - get paper here
  • 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
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
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  • Müller, F. 1880. Erster Nachtrag zum Katalog der herpetologischen Sammlung des Basler Museums. Verh. Naturf. Ges. Basel 7: 120-165 - get paper here
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  • Reynolds, R. Graham and Robert W. Henderson 2018. Boas of the World (Superfamily Booidae): A Checklist With Systematic, Taxonomic, and Conservation Assessments. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology Sep 2018, Vol. 162, No. 1: 1-58. - get paper here
  • Savage, J. M., & VILLA, J. 1986. An Introduction to the Herpetofauna of Costa Rica. Soc. Stud. Amphib. Rept. Contrib. Herpetol. No. 3, viii + 207 pp.
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  • Solís, José Mario; Leonel Marineros, Carlos Manuel O’Reilly, Claudia Mossi 2020. Confirmation and range extension of the Isthmian Dwarf Boa, Ungaliophis continentalis (Müller 1880), from western Intibucá, Honduras. IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians 27 (3): 522-524 - get paper here
  • Solís, J. M., L. D. Wilson, and J. H. Townsend. 2014. An updated list of the amphibians and reptiles of Honduras, with comments on their nomenclature. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1: 123–144 - get paper here
  • Solórzano, A. 2006. Snakes of the Osa Peninsula [Costa Rica]. Reptilia (GB) (48): 30-34 - get paper here
  • Solórzano, A. 2006. Die Schlangen der Osa-Halbinsel [Costa Rica]. Reptilia (Münster) 11 (61): 28-31 - get paper here
  • Stuart, L. C. 1954. Further notes on the status of the generic names Peropodum and Ungaliophis. Herpetologica 10: 79-82 - get paper here
  • Sunyer, Javier 2014. An updated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Nicaragua. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1 (2): 186–202. - get paper here
  • Ukuwela, K.D.B., de Silva, A., Sivaruban, A. et al. 2022. Diversity, distribution, and natural history of the marine snakes of Sri Lanka. Marine Biodiversity 52, 24 (2022) - get paper here
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  • 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.
  • Werner, F. 1921. Synopsis der Schlangenfamilie der Boiden auf Grundlage des Boulenger'schen Schlangenkatalogs (1893-1896). Archiv für Naturgeschichte 87A: 230-265
  • Wilcox, T.P.; Derrick J. Zwickl; Tracy A. Heath and David M. Hillis 2002. Phylogenetic relationships of the dwarf boas and a comparison of Bayesian and bootstrap measures of phylogenetic support. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 25 (2): 361-371 - get paper here
  • Wilson, L. D., & MEYER, J. R. 1985. The Snakes of Honduras. 2d ed. Milwaukee Publ. Mus. Contrib. Biol. & Geol. No. 6, 150 pp. - get paper here
  • 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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