ArticlePDF Available


Content may be subject to copyright.
Herpetological Review 47(3), 2016
CHITRA INDICA (Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle). CAPTIVE
BREEDING. The endangered Chitra indica is a large and highly
aquatic softshell turtle native to the Indian subcontinent (Asian
Turtle Trade Working Group 2000. The IUCN Red List of Threat-
ened Species 2000: e.T4696A11088615. Accessed on 25 Nov
2015). Overharvesting for protein and traditional medicine are
putative causes of continued population decline (Das and Singh
2009. Chelon. Res. Monogr. 05:027.1–027.7). Ongoing efforts for
species recovery in parts of its range include protection of wild-
collected nests and head-starting of emergent hatchlings (Singh
and Horne 2011. In Turtle Survival, pp. 93–98. Turtle Survival Al-
liance, Fort Worth, Texas). This note provides an account of C. in-
dica breeding at a captive facility in Guadalupe Co., Texas, USA,
and we believe it represents the first report of a captive-raised
(F1) individual of Chitra spp. breeding outside its known range.
Other successful programs exist; for example, a captive breed-
ing program was established for the congeneric Chitra chitra
(Siamese Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle) at the Kanchanaburi
Inland Fisheries Development Center (KIFDC), Thailand in
2000 (Kuchling and Kitimasak 2010. Trop. Nat. Hist. 10:189–197).
Breeding was documented at the onset of the program (Kuchling
and Kitimasak 2010, op cit.) indicating that wild-caught females
were used in establishing the program and to date no published
account of breeding by captive reared individuals exists.
On 18 July 2015, a 14-year-old C. indica (carapace length [CL]
53.6 cm; weight 14.5 kg) captive raised from a hatchling depos-
ited a clutch of 26 spherical eggs in the water of its fiberglass
tank. This female was raised in a circular raceway of 7 m × 5 m
(diameter × depth) and had been recently moved to the new tank
that was 5 m × 2 m × 1 m (length × width × depth) where a nest-
ing beach was not available to her. Mean diameter of the eggs
was 28 ± 0.25 mm and mean weight was 10.8 ± 0.22 g. The eggs
were transferred to a 1:1 medium of vermiculite and water and
incubated at 28°C using a thermal air incubator. The rationale
for choosing this incubation temperature was that nests of the
congeneric C. chitra were successfully incubated in captivity
at weekly mean temperatures that fluctuated between 29–31°C
(Kuchling and Kitimasak 2010, op. cit.) A single hatchling (CL:
32.8 mm, weight 6.8 g) emerged after a period of 69 days on 27
September 2015 (Fig. 1). Four completely developed hatchlings
failed to emerge (mean CL: 24.3 ± 0.9 mm, mean weight 5.63
± 0.48 g) while the remainder of eggs contained demonstrably
developed juveniles (39%) that failed in development earlier
or were infertile (42%). Captive care over a duration of 14 years
yielded this first reported breeding in a captive-raised Chitra spp.
Such long generation times should be a key consideration when
creating and managing captive breeding and headstarting pro-
grams for chelonians.
and MICHAEL R. J. FORSTNER, Department of Biology, Texas State Uni-
versity, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, Texas 78666, USA (e-mail: MF@
Xantusia riversiana has seldom been kept in zoological institu-
tions, and very little is known about its diet in captivity. In the
wild, X. riversiana has the broadest diet of all Xantusia species
(Brattstrom 1952. Copeia 1952:168–172). Brattstrom (1952, op.
cit.) studied the stomach contents of 67 X. riversiana, which
included plant material, insects such as ants and other arthro-
pods, and their own shed skins. A more recent dietary study of
26 food samples and 268 fecal pellets from wild-caught X. river-
siana showed ground spiders (Drassylus barbus), ground beetles
(Amara sp.), terrestrial isopods (Porcellio and Porcellionides sp.),
and ants (Aphaenogaster patruelis) as the most common prey
items (Fellers and Drost 1991. Herpetol. Monogr. 5:28–78). Fruits
of the Australian Saltbush (Atriplex semibaccata), flowers, fruits
and leaves of Boxthorn (Lycium californicum), and fruits of the
ice plant (Mesembryanthemum sp.) comprised the majority of
plant material taken by X. riversiana (Fellers and Drost 1991, op.
The San Diego Zoo currently maintains three wild-caught
adult X. riversiana (presumed to be 1.2), and five unsexed juve-
niles that were born in captivity at the zoo. The adults arrived in
July 2014 and females were presumed to have been gravid when
fIg. 1. A Chitra indica hatchling measuring 32.8 mm in length and
weighing 6.8 g that emerged after 69 days of incubation on 27 Sep-
tember 2015 at a captive facility in Guadalupe Co., Texas. We believe
this documents the first report of a captive raised individual (F1) of
Chitra spp. successfully reproducing outside its known range.
Herpetological Review 47(3), 2016
received into the collection. Two offspring were born on 19 Sep-
tember 2014 from one female, and three were born on 27 Sep-
tember 2014 from another female. Since their arrival, the adults
have been weighed monthly, and have maintained constant
weights of 23.78, 16.88, and 23.35 g, respectively. These weights
are consistent with those of wild adult X. riversiana, which range
from 15–25 g (Fellers and Drost 1991, op. cit.; Goldberg and Bezy
1974. Herpetologica 30:350–360). The five offspring have con-
sistently been weighed since birth and have shown body mass
increases of 32.5%, 40%, 53.8% and 105% since September 2014.
At the San Diego Zoo, the diet offered to captive X. riversiana
is comprised of a finely-chopped salad and a mixture of finely-
chopped vegetables and fruit, which is offered three times a week
(Monday, Thursday, Saturday). The salad, fruit and vegetable
mixes are diced into very small pieces using a blender and served
on a small plate. The chopped salad is comprised of a mix of col-
lards, bok choy, dandelion, mustard, romaine, kale and Swiss
chard. The fruit and vegetable mix contains yam, carrot, squash,
apple, tomato, papaya, banana and grapes. A vitamin and miner-
al supplement consisting of 94.5% ground herbivore supplement
(Western Milling, Goshen, California, USA), 3% dicalcium phos-
phate, and 2.5% calcium carbonate by weight, is mixed into the
salad mix for added nutrition. On Fridays, Sundays, and Wednes-
days, individuals are offered two- to three-week-old crickets
(Acheta domestica) dusted with Reptivite vitamin D3 supple-
mentation (Zoo Med Laboratories, San Luis Obispo, California,
USA), termites (Reticulitermes flavipes), and soldier fly larvae
(Hermetia illucens). Every other month, live baby house mice
(Mus musculus) weighing 3–6 g each, are offered to the adult X.
riversiana. This is based on observations of adult X. riversiana
depredating 5-day-old San Clemente Bell’s Sparrow (Artemisio-
spiza belli clementeae) chicks, which weigh approximately 10–12
g each (Bridges et al. 2015. West. North Amer. Nat. 75:248–249).
The captive X. riversiana have been observed consuming all of
the dietary items offered.
Xantusia riversiana could be considered a dietary generalist,
and captive individuals should be offered as varied a diet as pos-
sible. The captive diet offered at the San Diego Zoo has enabled
body weights to be maintained in all three adults, and has sup-
ported growth in the five offspring. The growth rates observed are
in accordance with monthly weights taken in field of wild caught
X. riversiana by Fellers and Drost (1991, op. cit.). This information
may prove useful to other zoological institutions housing X. riv-
ersiana, and possibly other species of Xantusia in captivity.
ICH, and BRETT BALDWIN, Department of Herpetology, San Diego Zoo
Global, 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, California 92101, USA
PHILODRYAS OLFERSII (Lichtenstein’s Green Racer). FEEDING
BEHAVIOR. Philodryas olfersii is a predominantly diurnal snake
species with terrestrial and semi-arboreal habits (Hartmann and
Marques 2005. Amphibia-Reptilia 26:25–32). It is widely distrib-
uted throughout most of the cis-Andean region in South America
(Thomas and Dixon 1975. Herpetol. Rev. 6:108–109), inhabiting a
large variety of vegetation types (Costa et al. 2010. Biota Neotrop.
10:353–377; Guedes et al. 2014. Zootaxa 3863:1–93). Philodryas
olfersii are diet generalists, preying upon a variety of small ver-
tebrates (Leite et al. 2009. J. Zool. 5:53–60). In this note we report
the predation by P. olfersii on a Banded Calico Snake (Oxyrhopus
petolarius) in captivity.
On 2 June 2011, an adult male P. olfersii, (TL: 857 mm) was
collected during the morning in the urban area of Cataguases
(21.392254°S, 42.690417°W, WGS 84; 174 m elev.), state of Minas
Gerais, Brazil. The snake was kept in a terrarium with a young
O. petolarius previously captured in the same region. The ter-
rarium was made of wood and glass, measuring 67 × 30 × 35 cm.
It was lined with newspaper, and there was a wooden shelter in-
side, measuring 28 × 10 × 16 cm. On 1107 h of the following day,
the P. olfersii specimen was observed preying on the young O.
petolarius. The P. olfersii began flicking its tongue tracking the O.
petolarius and when found, the P. olfersii bit it at mid-body and
began to swallow (Fig. 1). The predator completely swallowed
its prey tail-first at 1126 h, with the prey still alive and relatively
weak (presumably due to envenomation). Soon after, the P. olf-
ersii hid in the shelter and remained immobile. Nine days later,
the P. olfersii specimen was euthanized by ventral application of
lidocaine, fixed in 10% formalin, and was deposited in the her-
petological collection of the Museu de Zoologia João Moojen, at
Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Minas Gerais (MZUFV 1928).
Phildryas olfersii uses envenomation and constriction to
subdue its prey (Sazima and Haddad 1992. In L. P. C. Morellato
[ed.], História Natural da Serra do Japi: Ecologia e Preservação de
uma Área Florestal no Sudeste do Brasil, pp. 212–236. UNICAMP/
FAPESP, Campinas). However, during the observed predation
event constriction was not observed. The behavioral sequence
was similar to one report of Philodryas patagoniensis eating an O.
petolarius, where the prey was swallowed alive tail-first (Martins
et al. 2010. Herpetol. Rev. 41:370–371). To the best of our knowl-
edge this is the first report of ophiophagy in P. olfersii. We sug-
gest this species may sometimes include snakes in its diet under
natural conditions, a behavior which has been more frequently
observed in P. patagoniensis (e.g., Martins et al. 2010, op. cit.;
Marques et al. 2012. Herpetol. Notes 5:315–317).
We thank Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodi-
versidade (ICMBio) for collection permits (number 26008-1) and
Henrique C. Costa for manuscript review and suggestions.
RIQUE S. G. FOLLY, and JHONNY J. M. GUEDES, Museu de Zoologia
João Moojen, Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal de
Viçosa, CEP 36570-000, Viçosa, MG, Brazil; RAMOM DOMINATO, Programa
fIg. 1. Individual of Philodryas olfersii preying on a young Oxyrhopus
petolarius in captivity at Cataguases, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Herpetological Review 47(3), 2016
de Pós-Graduação em Zoologia, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, CEP
45662-900, Ilhéus, BA, Brazil; RENATO N. FEIO, Museu de Zoologia João
Moojen, Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal de Viço-
sa, CEP 36570-000, Viçosa, MG, Brazil.
IOR. Snakes of the genus Tachymenis are known to feed mainly
on amphibians and lizards (Walker 1945. Publ. Mus. Comp. Zool.
Harvard College 55:1–55; Greene and JaksicŚ 1992. Rev. Chil. Hist.
Nat. 65:485–493). Stomach contents suggest that T. peruviana
feeds mainly on frogs (Walker, op. cit.).
On 13 December 2014, we captured a female T. peruviana
(435 mm snout–vent length, 70 mm tail length) in Ciudad de
Piedra region, La Paz, Bolivia (17.46°S, 68.77°W, WGS 84; 3877 m
elev.). The snake was maintained in captivity in a glass terrarium
measuring 600 × 300 × 350 mm (length × width × height) at Col-
ección Boliviana de Fauna laboratory for further behavioral and
thermoregulatory studies. It was fed on the tadpoles and small
frogs of Pleurodema cinereum released into a 210 × 140 × 40 mm
water container partially filled with small stones and placed in
the center of the terrarium (Fig. 1). On 13 March and 31 October
2015, we observed the snake actively searching for tadpoles and
small frogs for several seconds underwater, until it grabbed them
by mouth and swallowed them while still underwater. The ob-
served behavior included the approach to the water container,
immersion of the head, underwater tongue flicking, movement
and direction of the head following the prey, attempts at prey
capture underwater, emergence of the head to breathe, re-im-
mersion of the head, searching for the prey among stones via the
muzzle, capture of the prey, curling of the anterior body under-
water to prevent the prey from escaping, and swallowing prey
inside the water container.
Previous studies have not reported underwater prey search-
ing behavior for this species, but Baudoin and Pacheco (1992. In
Baudoin and Forno [eds.], Historia Natural de un Valle en los An-
des: La Paz, pp. 421–452. Servicio Gráfico Quipus, La Paz, Bolivia)
reported on a captured specimen near an irrigation ditch that re-
gurgitated several small native fishes (Orestias sp.) that are com-
mon in streams and rivers across the Andes. This suggests that
the behavior described here may also be carried out in the wild.
We thank Kazuya Naoki and JiŚí Moravec for their contribu-
tions to the manuscript.
Colección Boliviana de Fauna, Área de Herpetología, Casilla 8706, Correo
Central, La Paz, Bolivia; LUIS F. PACHECO, Instituto de Ecología, Univer-
sidad Mayor de San Andrés, Casilla 10077, Correo Central, La Paz, Bolivia.
fIg. 1. Tachymenis peruviana feeding on Pleurodema cinereum tad-
poles underwater.
... Although Philodryas species have a generalist diet, composed by lizards, amphibians, and in a lesser extent, birds, and mammals (Thomas, 1976), there are reports of ophiophagy for P. olfersii and P. nattereri predating on rear-fanged snakes such as Oxybelis, Oxyrhopus, and Leptodeira species (Mesquita and Borges-Nojosa, 2009;Mesquita et al., 2011;Winck et al., 2012;Assis et al., 2016;Coelho-Lima et al., 2019. In addition, events of cannibalism have been frequently described for P. nattereri in which differences in the size of the specimen have been observed (Coelho-Lima et al., 2021); however, if cannibalism occurs in other Philodryas species is still uncertain. ...
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.