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Herpetological Review 40(3), 2009354
radio-transmitter; Holohil Systems Ltd, Ontario, Canada) was
32.7ºC. The ambient temperature (1 m above the ground) was
29.0ºC. Cloud cover was 10%, relative humidity was 20%,
and wind speed was slight (0–5 kph) and intermittent. Upon closer
inspection, the P. solare was sluggish and had been (presumably)
bitten by the present snake; at least two presumptive fang punctures
were present on both left and right left sides of the posterior body,
and from these wounds oozing dark-colored blood (within yellow
ellipses) was detected (Fig. 1A).
From 2042 h to 2111 h, CA-32 was directly facing the lizard and
periodically (N = 8 episodes) nudged it, presumably to determine
whether it was dead or fully immobilized. During these nudging
episodes, the lizard exhibited anti-predator behavior, primarily
rearing and directing its head obliquely downward toward CA-
32 (see Sherbrooke 2003, op. cit.). At 2211 h, the lizard was still
alive, and we departed to avoid possible interference. At 2300 h,
we re-located CA-32; he was about 10 m from Site 21 and had a
food bolus, undoubtedly the P. solare.
On 24 July 2004, at 0643 h, 14 days following consumption of
the P. solare, we radio-tracked male CA-32 and located him (Site
19, 821 m elev.) in bajada; he was coiled 1 m from of an active Neo-
toma albigula midden. An obvious large food bolus (documented
via photography) was present; given his location, it was possibly
an adult N. albigula. His core body temperature was 26.4ºC. The
ambient temperature was 25.0ºC and ground temperature in direct
sunlight (“hot spot”) was 28.0ºC.
On 14 June 2008, from 0630 to 0733 h, in bajada, an adult male
C. atrox (CA-55: SVL: 99 mm, TL: 80 mm, mass: 687 g) was
radio-tracked and located (Site 52, 826 m elev.) beside an adult
male (SVL 140 mm, body mass 40 g) Desert Spiny Lizard
(Sceloporus magister). First inspection of the pair revealed that
CA-55 was sprawled lengthwise, with the front one-third of his
body positioned in a small area of shade in open ground, and his
rear two-thirds was beneath a cluster of Triangle Bursage beneath
the canopy of a 1.5 m tall Creosote Bush. The snake’s chin rested
on the tail of the lizard, which was positioned directly in front of
and facing away from CA-55. Neither subject was moving; the
lizard’s eyes were slightly open. Minutes after locating CA-55,
his core body temperature was 23.8ºC. The ambient temperature
was 25ºC and hot spot was 32ºC. Cloud cover was 0%, relative
humidity was 10%, and wind speed was slight (< 5 kph). Both
ambient and hot spot temperatures changed rapidly as sunrise
At 0648 h, CA-55 slowly crawled lengthwise beside the left side
of the lizard, he occasionally rubbed the lizard with his mouth, and
then started rubbing his snout on the snout of the lizard. At that
point, the lizard inched and CA-55 slowly withdrew to resume
his position behind the lizard. The core body temperature of CA-55
was 26.7ºC. The pair was temporarily left to radio-track another C.
atrox subject; CA-55 was re-tracked at 0711 h. At that time, CA-55
was on the right side of the lizard, which gaped widely three times,
at 30 sec intervals (Fig. 1B). Following the rst gape, the lizard
shuddered violently; he also shuddered after the third gape. The
third gape and subsequent shudder were the last obvious move-
ments of the lizard. Both subjects were in full sunlight; the body
temp of CA-55 was 31.3ºC. The ambient temperature was 29ºC
and hot spot was 35ºC.
Because CA-55 appeared disturbed, other subjects of C. atrox
were subsequently radio-tracked; ca. 20 min later, CA-55 was re-
tracked at 0733 h and neither the snake nor the lizard were present
at the original site (Site 52). The snake had moved 2 m N of Site 52
into a heavily vegetated arroyo. Inspection revealed that a minor
food bolus was present, and it was assumed he had consumed the
lizard. Again, CA-55 appeared startled by the observer and quickly
coiled in 100% shade under a downed canopy of wolfberry (Ly-
cium sp.) branches on the south side of the arroyo. His core body
temperature at the conclusion of the observations was 35.5ºC. The
ambient temperature was 32ºC and hotspot was 44.5ºC.
In both of the above cases, body masses of the two species of
lizards, estimated based on SVL, were 40 g; this represents 5%
(CA-32, 745 g) and 6% (CA-55, 687 g) of the body masses of the
respective snakes. Moreover, the resultant food boluses, as ex-
pected, were not highly discernible compared to larger prey such as
commonly consumed mammals (e.g., ground squirrels, woodrats);
owing to their size, it is likely that the present food items would
have been overlooked under most situations. Hence, this suggests
that predation attempts and feeding frequency in certain large
rattlesnakes (and other vipers) are underestimated (Nowak et al.
2008, op. cit.). Also, we show that adult C. atrox can successfully
feed on adult horned lizards (Phrynosoma spp.) without (apparent)
subsequent injury (see comments by Sherbrooke 2003, op. cit.).
Support for our eld studies at the Suizo Mountains is from
Arizona State University, Zoo Atlanta, Georgia State University,
and David L. Hardy, Sr. Since 2001, many individuals provided
assistance in the eld, but most noteworthy are Hans-Werner
Herrmann and Ryan Sawby. Also, Ryan Sawby provided
invaluable assistance with photography and identi cation of plant
and invertebrate taxa. We thank Emory Schuett, Robert Villa, and
Annamarie Saenger for their help in making observations on
the present C. atrox and P. solare. This study was approved by
the animal care and use committee (IACUC) of Arizona State
University (98-429R), and appropriate scienti c permits were
obtained from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Submitted by ROGER A. REPP, National Optical Astronomy
Observatory, 950 N. Cherry Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85719,
USA (e-mail:; and GORDON W. SCHUETT,
Department of Biology and Center for Behavioral Neuroscience,
Georgia State University, 33 Gilmer Street, S. E., Unit 8, Atlanta,
Georgia 30303-3088, USA (e-mail:, or
EPICRATES CENCHRIA (Brazilian Rainbow Boa). DIET.
On 27 February 2008, at 2350 h, during a radiotracking study at
Floresta River (22.5275°S, 42.5516667°W), Reserva Botânica
Águas Claras, Silva Jardim, Brazil, we located a female (280 g)
radio-collared Neotropical Water Rat (Nectomys squamipes) inside
an Epicrates cenchria (ca. 2 m total length). The snake was <1 m
from the river’s edge and active. We observed it again two days later
in a shelter at the base of a large tree (3.55 m perimeter at breast
height), at 5.1 m above the river level and 0.5 m from the river.
This shelter had three openings, the measures were: 16×14×66;
20×7×56 and 22×18×49 cm (biggest diameter, perpendicular di-
ameter and depth, respectively). The radiotransmitter was found
one month later in what appeared to be regurgitations of the snake
Herpetological Review 40(3), 2009 355
in the same shelter.
Epicrates cenchria is widely distributed in Central and South
America, from Costa Rica to Argentina (Tolson 1987. Occas.
Pap. Mus. Zool., Univ. Michigan 715:1–68; Vanzolini et al. 1980.
Répteis das Caatingas. Academia Brasileira de Ciências, Rio de
Janeiro. 161 pp). All Epicrates are nocturnal and most eat exclu-
sively endotherms, with most diet records consisting of bats and
rodents (Mus, Rattus) (Nellis et al. 1983. J. Herpetol. 17:413–417).
To the best of our knowledge, this is the rst record of E. cenchria
predation on N. squamipes, the largest and most adapted to semi-
aquatic life among sigmodontine rodents.
We thank Idea Wild for equipment, Fundação o Boticário de
Proteção à Natureza, CNPq and PIBIC/CNPq for nancial sup-
port. In addition, we thank our colleagues in the Laboratório de
Ecologia e Conservação de Populações for assistance.
LIMA Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biologia, Univer-
sidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, CP 68020, Rio de Janeiro, RJ,
21941-902, Brazil; PAULO NOGUEIRA DA COSTA, Departa-
mento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal do
Rio de Janeiro, CP 68020, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 21941-902, Brazil;
Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade
Federal do Rio de Janeiro, CP 68020, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 21941-
902, Brazil.
Farancia erytrogramma is a secretive, nocturnal species occurring
in southeastern USA (Gibbons and Dorcas 2005. Snakes of the
Southeast. University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia. 253 pp.).
In North Carolina, this species can be found throughout the coastal
plain (Palmer and Braswell 1994. Reptiles of North Carolina.
University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
412 pp.) and usually inhabits clear, uvial water systems with low
turbidity, neutral pH, and standing vegetation for cover (Neill 1964.
Amer. Midl. Nat. 71:257–295). However, past research revealed
this species can occur in standing freshwater habitats, such as
Carolina bays (Gibbons et al. 1977. Herpetologica 33:276–281).
During a study of the reptile and amphibian community at Bull
Neck Swamp (35.96667°N, 076.41667°W), one F. erytrogramma
was captured with an aquatic funnel trap. Bull Neck Swamp (BNS)
is a 2428-ha pocosin wetland located 28 km E of Plymouth, North
Carolina, USA, and is managed by the Fisheries and Wildlife Sci-
ences Program at North Carolina State University.
The highly turbid canals of tannic ows and thick bottom debris
that meander throughout BNS were an unexpected habitat to dis-
cover F. erytrogramma, which prefer clear, moving water (Neill
1964, op. cit.). Neill (op. cit.) maintained that consistent tem-
peratures of stream habitats were important for thermoregulation.
Also, uvial habitats provide cover for American Eels (Anguilla
rostrata) and Neill (op. cit.) suggested the predominant diet on A.
rostrata further supported the constraint of F. erytrogramma to
these habitats. However, steep, sandy canal banks prevented the
growth of standing vegetation, which likely reduced refuge and
staging habitats for nocturnal foraging. Further, Beaver (Castor
canadensis) dams reduced what little ow existed in some canals
to standing quagmires more representative of the habitat selected
by Eastern Mudsnakes (Farancia abacura; Neill 1964, op. cit.).
Interestingly, one A. rostrata was observed near BNS, but none
was captured within the swamp. It is possible that Rainbow Snakes
leave bordering uvial habitats in pursuit of young eels that wan-
dered into canals and swamp habitats.
Capturing such a secretive and uncommon species as F. ery-
trogramma in unexpected habitat encourages consideration of
their delicate ecological niche. Declining population indices for
American Eels along the eastern United States are attributed to
over shing, parasitism, habitat loss, pollution, and changes in
major currents related to climate change (Hightower and Nesnow
2006. Southeast. Nat. 5:693–710). Eel declines could negatively
impact population sizes and distributions of Rainbow Snakes,
especially in inland areas. We believe future studies based on con-
rmed Rainbow Snake occurrences from museum records or North
Carolina GAP data could better delineate the range within North
Carolina. Additionally, sampling for American Eels to determine
their population status and distribution in North Carolina could
augment population and distribution data for Rainbow Snakes.
We thank A. Braswell, J. Jensen, and P. Moler for comments on
earlier drafts of this manuscript.
Submitted by STAN J. HUTCHENS (e-mail: and CHRISTOPHER S. DEPERNO,
(e-mail:, Fisheries and Wildlife Pro-
gram, North Carolina State University, 110 Brooks Ave., Raleigh,
North Carolina 27607, USA.
ING BEHAVIOR. Fossorial blind worm snakes are frequently
found under debris in lowland moist and premontane forests
in Costa Rica and Panama (Savage 2002. The Amphibians and
Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna Between Two Continents,
Between Two Seas. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois.
934 pp.). The habits of these snakes are nearly unknown because
of their burrowing and secretive lifestyle, though it is known that
the diet of Helminthophis frontalis (Anomalepididae) consists
of ants, termites and their larvae (Solórzano 2004. Serpientes de
Costa Rica. Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio). Heredia,
Costa Rica. 792 pp.). How blind worm snakes prey upon ants and
termites without being attacked by these colonial insects has not
yet been described.
Leptotyphlops dulcis (Leptotyphlopidae), another blind bur-
rowing snake that feeds on termites, preys on immature stages of
colonial insects (e.g., ants and termites), apparently without being
attacked. This blind snake covers itself with feces and a viscous
odoriferous liquid that is secreted by the cloaca prior to crawling
into the colony. This substance repels the ants and prevents their
attack (Gehlbach et al. 1968. Bioscience 18:784–785). This infor-
mation is missing for most fossorial blind worm snakes, though
there are a few reports of some species using this strategy (Zug et
al. 2001. Herpetology: An Introductory Biology of Amphibians
and Reptiles. 2nd ed. Academic Press. California,. 630 pp.).
On 21 July 2004, we observed a Helminthophis frontalis entering
an ant colony in San José City, Costa Rica. As the snake attempted
... But is also very common to find this species close to rivers where food is abundant (Gonzálves 2006). Birds, rodents, and bats (Lemke 1978, Medeiros de Pinho et al. 2009, Pizzatto et al. 2009) are common preys of Epicrates cenchria. ...
Full-text available
Bats are mammals of the Order Chiroptera. They are highly adaptable to several habitats and their ecology makes them vulnerable to predators. Bats are a common prey of snakes, but description of this kind of predation are rare. This study describes the event of predation of an Epicrates cenchria on a Desmodus rotundus, in a cave in Tena, Ecuador. Records of Desmodus rotundus are known from caves just as Epicrates cenchria. Castillo Cave has a total mapped length of 450 meters. The phase of constriction lasted for 10 min 2 s, a duration superior than other studies, due to the size of Desmodus rotundus. The terrestrial locomotion behavior of D. rotundus, makes it an easy target for E. cenchria. The predation event occurred on the floor, a rare case, which has not been described in other events of predation in caves. The cave is located in a disturbed habitat, because it is irrigated by wastewaters. But both species seems to be adapted to the environment. This study confirms that predation of bats in caves by snakes does occur.
... Male R-M 1 removed its collar after one tracking night and was excluded from the analysis with only nine locations. The end of tracking for R-M 2 occurred because of collar failure; R-F 1 was preyed upon by the Brazilian Rainbow Boa Epicrates cenchria (Pinho et al. 2009); R-M 3 removed its collar, and thus R-M 4 was the only individual tracked until the end of the study. Table 1. ...
Full-text available
Nectomys squamipes is a semi-aquatic rodent with a wide geographic range in Brazilian forests and savannas. This species is a host for several parasites associated with aquatic environments, especially Schistosoma mansoni, and thus its spatial pattern may influence some diseases’ patterns. Here we present important aspects of water rat spatial behaviour, including technical and ecological aspects. Water rats were studied by live trapping in rivers and in gallery forests between January 2005 and August 2008, with a total sampling effort of 9511 trap-nights. We also studied some animals through radio tracking and the spool-and-line technique. Water rat movement was distributed evenly between the terrestrial and aquatic environments. Nectomys squamipes occurrence in small tributaries was higher than in larger and lotic rivers. Both home range, the conventional two-dimensional approach, and home length, a one-dimensional approach, proved to be useful to study N. squamipes, depending on the shape of the water body used by the individual. Although Nectomys squamipes’ home length was positively correlated with body weight, sex was also important to explain home length variation; at similar body weights, males have larger home lengths than females. Males explored larger areas during the rainy season, likely in search of females, as this is the water rat reproductive season in Atlantic forest. In contrast, females explored larger areas during the dry season, likely looking for additional food supplies as a result of deficient water rat food supplies during the Atlantic forest dry season. Females overlapped home lengths with more than one male, and males with more than one female, suggesting a promiscuous mating system for this species.
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