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Predation upon Amphisbaena fuliginosa Linnaeus, 1758 by Micrurus ancoralis (Jan, 1872)



I report the first case of predation upon Amphisbaena fuliginosa by Micrurus ancoralis.
the diet of the Aesculapian Snake (see in
GRILLITSCH et al. 1983 and VEITH 1991).
LUISELLI & RUGIERO (1993) studied the food
habits of 32 specimens of arboreal Aescu-
lapian Snake in Italy, and did not find either
birds or eggs in the diet. They could not
answer the question whether this arboreal
snake eats more birds than do terrestrial
ones. Such “flying” food can only be an
occasional source for this opportunistic
species (cf. BARUŠ & OLIVA et al. 1992;
BÖHME 1993). However, one can suppose
that sometimes it can forage also non-typi-
cal prey (e.g., bats roosting in roof attics or
tree-hollows during summer days can pro-
vide well concentrated amounts of food).
This hypothesis has also been corroborated
by the observation of an Aesculapian Snake
occurring under a nursery colony of Lesser
Horseshoe Bats Rhinolophus hipposideros
(BECHSTEIN, 1800) in a roof attic. Chiro-
pterologists caught the snake just creeping
along the wood frame to the bats (KOSELJ &
ZAGMAJSTER 2001). Certainly, European
snakes do not have a significant influence
on bat populations. However, locally, they
may be specialized for eating bats, similar
to some cases observed in tropical regions
(cf. SCHÄTTI 1984).
(1992): Plazy - Reptilia. Fauna ČSFR; Vol. 26; Prague,
Academia, pp. 222. BÖHME, W. (1993): Elaphe longis-
sima (LAURENTI, 1768) – Äskulapnatter; pp. 331-372;
In: BÖHME, W. (Ed.): Handbuch der Reptilien und
Amphibien Europas; Vol. 3, Echsen I; Wiesbaden Aula
& TIEDEMANN, F. (1983): Lurche und Kriechtiere
Niederösterreichs. Wien (Fakultas), pp. 176. HAENSEL,
R. & HAENSEL, J. & CLAUS, W. & RITTER, K. (2001):
Besuch der Fledermaushöhle (Goa Lawah) im Ostteil
der Insel Bali.- Nyctalus, Berlin; (N.F.) 7(6): 646-652.
KOSELJ, K. & ZAGMAJSTER, M. (2001): Zanimivi
opažanji gožev v prebivališčih netopirjev v Sloveniji.-
Temporaria, Informativni bilten Societas herpetologica
Slovenica, Ljubljana; 5(1/2): 21-23. LUISELLI, L. &
RUGIERO, L. (1993): Food habits of the Aesculapian
snake, Elaphe longissima, in Central Italy: do arboreal
snakes eat more birds than terrestrial ones?- Journal of
Herpetology; Houston; 27: 116-117. SCHÄTTI, B. (1984):
Fledermäuse als Nahrung von Schlangen.- Bonner
Zoologische Beitrage,Bonn; 35: 335-342. SPARKS, D.
W. & ROBERTS, K. J. & JONES, C. (2000): Vertebrate
predators on bats in North America north of Mexico;
pp. 229-241. In: CHOATE, J. R. (Ed.): Reflections of a
naturalist: Papers honoring professor Eugene D.
FLEHARTY; Special Issue 1, Fort Hays Studies; Fort
Hays State University Press. VEITH, G. (1991): Die
Reptilien Bosniens und der Herzegowina. Teil II. -
Herpetozoa, Wien; 4 (1/2): 1-96.
KEY WORDS: Reptilia: Squamata: Colubri-
dae: Elaphe longissima, Eptesicus serotinus, predation,
prey, feeding habits, chiropterophagy, Slovakia
SUBMITTED: October 18, 2004
Institute of Forest Ecology, Slovak Academy of Sci-
ences, Štúrova 2, SK-96053 Zvolen, Slovakia < kanuch > < >
Predation upon Amphisbaena
fuliginosa LINNAEUS, 1758
by Micrurus ancoralis (JAN, 1872)
Micrurus ancoralis (JAN, 1872), is
distributed through the Pacific lowlands
from southeastern Panama to southwestern
Ecuador and extreme northwestern Peru,
between 0 and 1500 m elevation (CAMP-
BELL & LAMAR 2004). The latter authors
are the only reference regarding the diet of
M. ancoralis in mentioning “small snakes,
including Ninia atrata” as prey of the Regal
Coral Snake. Here I report predation upon
Amphisbaena fuliginosa LINNAEUS, 1758
by M. ancoralis.
A specimen of M. ancoralis (deposit-
ed at D. F. CISNEROS-HEREDIA’s collection at
Universidad San Francisco de Quito; Quito,
Ecuador: DFCH-USFQ 1111) was collected
on the floor of a gap in primary Lowland
Evergreen forest at 09:00 at Hacienda El
Cielo, a farm on the margins of the Bogotá
River (78º44’W, 01º06’S, ca. 300 m a.s.l.),
Province of Esmeraldas, Ecuador, by Vlasti-
mil ZAK et al. in October 2000. The snake,
an adult female [277 ventrals, 32 subcaudals,
123 cm total length (TL), 114 cm snout-vent
length (SVL)], was assigned to the sub-
species M. a. ancoralis (sensu CAMPBELL &
LAMAR 2004). Examination of its stomach
contents revealed that the snake had swal-
lowed an adult Speckled Worm Lizard,
Amphisbaena fuliginosa (DFCH-USFQ
1112) (fig. 1). The worm lizard [8 preanal
pores, 200 body annuli, 25 tail annuli, auto-
tomy level of the tail at annulus 5, 46 seg-
ments to a midbody annulus, 39 cm TL,
33.5 cm SVL] was assigned to the sub-
species A. f. varia LAURENTI, 1768 (sensu
VANZOLINI 2002). The worm lizard was
ingested head first. The prey/predator body
length ratio is 0.29, the prey/predator body
mass ratio is 0.33, the maximal diameter of
SHORT NOTE HERPETOZOA 18 (1/2) Wien, 30. Juni 2005 SHORT NOTE 93
prey (at head) is 15.2 mm and the minimal
diameter of predator (at neck) is 12.6 mm.
Several species of coralsnakes are
known to prey upon amphisbaenians: Micr-
urus brasiliensis ROZE, 1967, M. circinalis
filiformis (GÜNTHER, 1859), M. frontalis
hemprichii (JAN, 1858), M. ibiboboca (MER-
REM, 1820), M. lemniscatus (LINNAEUS,
1758), M. mipartitus (DUMÉRIL, BIBRON &
DUMERIL, 1854), M. pyrrhocryptus (COPE,
1862), M. serranus (HARVEY, APARICIO &
GONZALEZ, 2003), and M. tschudii (JAN,
1858) (CAMPBELL & LAMAR 2004). This is
to my knowledge the first record of preda-
tion upon an amphisbaenid by M. ancoralis.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: I am grateful to
Vlastimil ZAK (Universidad San Francisco de Quito)
for collecting the specimen of M. ancoralis, to Jean-
Marc TOUZET and Ana Maria VELASCO (Universidad
San Francisco de Quito / Fundación Herpetologica G.
Orcés) for guidance and encouragement, to Daniel
PROAÑO, María Olga BORJA, Pablo RIERA and Felipe
ARTEAGA (Universidad San Francisco de Quito) for
their constant support and help during laboratory work,
to Ulrich KUCH (Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum
Senckenberg, Frankfurt a. M.) for reading the manu-
script and providing useful comments, and to María
Elena and Laura HEREDIA for financial and moral sup-
port. Universidad San Francisco de Quito provided
institutional support and laboratory space.
W. (2004): The venomous reptiles of the western hemi-
sphere; vols. 1+2; Ithaca, New York (Cornell Uni-
versity Press), 870 pp. VANZOLINI, P. E. (2002): A sec-
ond note on the geographical differentiation of Amphis-
baena fuliginosa L., 1758 (Squamata, Amphisbaeni-
dae), with a consideration of the forest refuge model of
speciation.- Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias,
Rio de Janeiro; 74 (4): 609-648.
KEY WORDS: Reptilia: Squamata: Elapidae:
Micrurus ancoralis ancoralis; Amphisbaenidae:
Amphisbaena fuliginosa varia; coralsnake; diet; preda-
tion; venomous snakes; Esmeraldas; Ecuador
SUBMITTED: February 2, 2005
lege of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Uni-
versidad San Francisco de Quito, Ave. Interoceánica
y calle Diego de Robles, Campus Cumbayá, Edif.
Maxwell. Casilla Postal 17-12-841, Quito, Ecuador
< >.
Taxonomic status of
Colostethus parcus RIVERO, 1991
and Colostethus exasperatus
In the original description of Colo-
stethus exasperatus, DUELLMAN & LYNCH
(1988) mentioned the absence of an oblique
lateral stripe and the presence of discrete
markings on the chest. In his diagnosis of
C. exasperatus, COLOMA (1995: 29) listed
the presence of a short oblique lateral stripe
and the absence of discrete marks in the
gular-chest region, and in his section on
description and variation, he insisted on the
absence of spots on the throat: “I am unable
to distinguish two discrete marks on the
chest as originally stated.”. My examina-
tion of two paratypes of C. exasperatus
(Natural History Museum, The Kansas
University - KU 147100 and KU 209648)
revealed no differences from the original
description of DUELLMAN & LYNCH (1988).
However, the statements by COLOMA (1995)
creates confusion about the recognition of
C. exasperatus. I suggest that the characters
in the original description of C. exasperatus
(presence of discrete marks on gular-chest
region, lack of an oblique lateral line, and
the dark throat and chest) be maintained.
On the other hand, after examining para-
types of C. parcus RIVERO, 1991 (National
Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian
Institution - USNM 282532-34), COLOMA
(1995) placed C. parcus in the synonymy of
C. exasperatus. He concluded that the ob-
94 SHORT NOTE HERPETOZOA 18 (1/2) Wien, 30. Juni 2005 SHORT NOTE
Fig.1: Adult female Regal Coralsnake Micrurus
ancoralis ancoralis (JAN, 1872) and its prey, a
Speckled Worm Lizard Amphisbaena fuliginosa varia
LAURENTI, 1768; Province of Esmeraldas, Ecuador.
... Despite its fossorial habits, amphisbaenians are preyed by a sort of predators, as such as many birds (Folly et al., 2015;Hayes et al., 2015), mammals (Oliveira et al., 2004;Soibelzon et al., 2007) and snakes (Marques and Sazima, 1997;Maschio et al., 2010). Many fossorial snakes commonly prey on amphisbaenians, like elapids (Zamprogno and Sazima, 1993;Cisneros-Heredia, 2005) and Elapomorphini species (Duarte, 2006;Caramaschi and Niemeyer, 2012). However, the consumption of worm lizards by terrestrial snakes is much scarcer. ...
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We expand the geographical distribution of Amphisbaena lumbricalis throughout the first record for a semiarid Caatinga area in the Paraíba state, northeastern Brazil. Furthermore, we report the first predation report of A. lumbricalis by the snake Erythrolamprus viridis. Our findings contribute with information about the habitats occupied by a hitherto considered "Data Deficient" species, beyond to reveal the potential of E. viridis to prey upon reptiles.
... These animals are active foragers and predators of amphibians, lizards and elongated vertebrates, like snakes and amphisbaenas (MARQUES, 1992;SILVEIRA JR et al., 2016). Records of predation on Amphisbaena fuliginosa by Micrurus ancoralis (CISNEROS-HEREDIA, 2005), Amphisbaena ibijara by Micrurus ibiboboca (GOMES et al., 2005), Amphisbaena vermicularis by M. ibiboboca (LIS-BOA;FREIRE, 2010;MESQUITA et al., 2013) are already known. ...
... The ingestion reported here is relevant due to the high prey / predator mass ratio (0.89). The literature reports the prey / predator mass ratio of 0.33 for M. ancoralis (Cisneros-Heredia, 2005), and 0.52 for M. ibiboboca (ratio calculated from the prey and predator weight information reported by the authors) (Barbosa et al., 2019). For M. frontalis the literature reports a prey / predator mass ratio of 0.32 and 0.33 (ratio calculated from the prey and predator weight information reported by the authors) (Maffei et al., 2009), while prey / predator ratios obtained from 64 feedings of live prey to a captive specimen ranged from 0.03 to 0.56 (SRTC, unpublished data). ...
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... The ingestion reported here is relevant due to the high prey / predator mass ratio (0.89). The literature reports the prey / predator mass ratio of 0.33 for M. ancoralis (Cisneros-Heredia, 2005), and 0.52 for M. ibiboboca (ratio calculated from the prey and predator weight information reported by the authors) (Barbosa et al., 2019). For M. frontalis the literature reports a prey / predator mass ratio of 0.32 and 0.33 (ratio calculated from the prey and predator weight information reported by the authors) (Maffei et al., 2009), while prey / predator ratios obtained from 64 feedings of live prey to a captive specimen ranged from 0.03 to 0.56 (SRTC, unpublished data). ...
... Por otra parte, muchos animales comen anfisbenas. Uno de los más especializados es la víbora de coral (Cisneros-Heredia, 2005;Gomes et al., 2005), que se alimenta de animales alargados como serpientes y anfisbenas. Las anfisbenas también son comidas por escuerzos, otras serpientes como Erythrolamprus poecilogyrus (Cei, 1986), mulitas y aves, como el chiflón (Figura 2 a y b). ...
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Muchas veces, al cavar en el jardín nos encontramos de casualidad con una viborita ciega. Son superficialmente parecidas a lombrices por el hecho de tener el cuerpo alargado, anillado externamente y sin una cabeza claramente diferenciada; pero en realidad son vertebrados, más precisamente reptiles parientes de las lagartijas y las serpientes. Muchos las conocen como viboritas ciegas, pero este nombre contiene dos errores: no son víboras, y no son ciegas. Las anfisbenas pertenecen a un grupo independiente de las serpientes, son lagartijas sin patas, y son sensibles a la luz, por lo que no son completamente ciegas.
... Other coral snakes also show snakes or other legless animals as common preys. Other ophioform prey items (i.e., snakes and amphisbaenians) were previously recorded for Micrurus albicintus Amaral, 1925, Micrurus ancoralis Jan, 1872, Micrurus corallinus Merrem, 1820, Micrurus ibiboboca (Merrem, 1820, Micrurus lemniscatus (Linnaeus, 1758), and Micrurus paraensis Cunha andNascimento, 1973 (Marquez andSazima, 1997;Martins and Oliveira, 1998;Cisneros-Heredia, 2005;Souza et al., 2011;Cavalcanti et al., 2012). The most similar previous record is M. ibiboboca eating L. annulata (Cavalcanti et al., 2012). ...
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Coral snakes in the genus Micrurus are widely distributed in the Neotropics, with more than 50 species already described in this region. They are primarily ground or leaf litter dwellers, feed on snakes or other elongate vertebrates, and tend to reproduce during the rainy season. We present data on the biology of Micrurus pyrrhocryptus from two semideciduous forests of Mato Grosso do Sul state, western Brazil. Two snake species were consumed: the dipsadid Sibynomorphus lavillai and the typhlopid Typhlops brongersmianus. Sexual dimorphism is marked in M. pyrrhocryptus, with males attaining larger sizes and having longer tails. Activity was concentrated in the wet season, when reproduction occurs. The defensive behavior in this species is similar to that displayed by other Micrurus, although less pronounced.
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