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Pseustes poecilonotus and Pseustes shropshirei (Puffing snakes) Diet.

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PSEUSTES POECILONOTUS and PSEUSTES SHROPSHIREI (Puffing Snakes). DIET. Pseustes poecilonotus is known to prey on birds (Falconidae, Emberizidae), bird eggs (Cracidae), and occasionally on lizards and small mammals (Martins and Oliveira 1998. Herpetol. Nat. Hist. 6:78–150). There is not published information regarding Pseustes shropshirei diet. On 9 January 1991 a specimen of P. poecilonotus (Universidad San Francisco de Quito y Fundación Herpetológica Orcés; FHGO-USFQ 0192) was collected on the Río Payamino at Pozo Gacela, Province of Napo, Ecuador, that contained one adult beetle (Coleoptera: Scarabeidae), one moth (Lepidoptera), parts of a grasshopper (Orthoptera), parts of a bug (Hemiptera), and two legs of a woodpecker (Piciformes: Picidae). On 25 March 1994 a specimen of P. shropshirei (FHGO-USFQ 0892) collected at Piñas, Buenventura, Province of El Oro, Ecuador, contained a capsule of seeds from an undetermined plant (ca. 2 cm in diameter) and two white brittle-shelled eggs (ca. 3 cm in diameter) with partially developed avian embryos.
Herpetological Review 36(3): 327; 2005
© 2005 by Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
PSEUSTES POECILONOTUS and PSEUSTES
SHROPSHIREI (Puffing Snakes). DIET. Pseustes poecilonotus
is known to prey on birds (Falconidae, Emberizidae), bird eggs
(Cracidae), and occasionally on lizards and small mammals (Mar-
tins and Oliveira 1998. Herpetol. Nat. Hist. 6:78–150). There is
not published information regarding Pseustes shropshirei diet. On
9 January 1991 a specimen of P. poecilonotus (Universidad San
Francisco de Quito y Fundación Herpetológica Orcés; FHGO-
USFQ 0192) was collected on the Río Payamino at Pozo Gacela,
Province of Napo, Ecuador, that contained one adult beetle (Co-
leoptera: Scarabeidae), one moth (Lepidoptera), parts of a grass-
hopper (Orthoptera), parts of a bug (Hemiptera), and two legs of a
woodpecker (Piciformes: Picidae). On 25 March 1994 a specimen
of P. shropshirei (FHGO-USFQ 0892) collected at Piñas,
Buenventura, Province of El Oro, Ecuador, contained a capsule of
seeds from an undetermined plant (ca. 2 cm in diameter) and two
white brittle-shelled eggs (ca. 3 cm in diameter) with partially
developed avian embryos.
I thank Jean-Marc Touzet, Ana María Velasco, Daniel Proaño,
María Olga Borja, Ma. Elena and Laura Heredia for assistance.
Submitted by DIEGO F. CISNEROS-HEREDIA, Colegio de
Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales, Universidad San Francisco de
Quito. Avenida Interoceánica y calle Diego de Robles, Campus
Cumbayá, Edificio Maxwell, Casilla Postal 17-12-841, Quito,
Ecuador (e-mail: diegofrancisco_cisneros@yahoo.com).
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Snakes are frequent predators of bird nests and therefore potentially have an important impact on bird population dynamics. However, while many species are known to consume nestlings and chicks, few species have been recorded consuming bird eggs. To effectively quantify the effects of bird egg predation by snakes on bird demographics, a key first step is to identify which snake species consume bird eggs. Unfortunately, detailed information on the dietary habits of most snakes is scarce and feeding records are poorly cataloged, making it difficult to ascertain which species do and do not eat bird eggs. We reviewed the literature and online community science reports to compile a global list of confirmed snake predators of bird eggs. In total, we gathered 471 feeding records of 123 snake taxa consuming the eggs of at least 210 bird species from 238 individual data sources. Geographical locations of records disproportionately represented well-sampled regions, and we infer that many snake species not included on our list also consume bird eggs. However, we found that oophagous snakes tend to be long (mean maximum length = 2057 mm) and mostly eat eggs that are small in diameter (mean egg diameter = 24 mm), suggesting that relative prey bulk is an important constraint of these interactions. Therefore,we expect that other snakes that eat birds are likely to mostly include congeneric and ecologically similar species to those reflected in our review. By knowing which snakes consume bird eggs, future research can consider species- and site-specific hypotheses when investigating the ecological effects of bird egg predation by snakes. Those results can also inform conservation practitioners on the causes and consequences of variation in nest success that may aid in decision-making when designing conservation management plans.
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