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SIBYNOMORPHUS NEUWIEDI (Neuwiedi’s Snail-eating Snake). CHROMATIC ANOMALY.

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  • Unidad Ejecutora Lillo (CONICET - FML) Tucumán - Argentina

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Herpetological Review 48(4), 2017
NATURAL HISTORY NOTES 867
for 22 min. The mahout reported never having seen this kind of
predation in >17 years of working for the park.
At 0722 h on 12 October 2013, one of us (BG) saw and
photographed a juvenile P. molurus being eaten by an S. cheela at
Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, India
(26.02944°N, 76.44339°W; WGS 84). The S. cheela was perched
in a tree clutching a dead P. molurus in its talons (Fig. 1B). The
head had already been consumed, and without the head the P.
molurus was ca. 1.2 m in length. This S. cheela was disturbed and
flew away with the kill within 8 min. Forest officials and local
wildlife enthusiasts also reported never having observed this
kind of predation before.
Spilornis cheela eat mostly snakes, including Oligodon
arnensis, Dendrelaphis tristis, Xenochrophis piscator, Ahaetulla
nasuta, Naja naja, Daboia russellii (Gokula 2012. Taprobanica
4:77–82), Cyclophiops major, Ptyas mucosa, Trimeresurus
stejnegeri, and Naja atra (Chou et al. 2004. In Chancellor and
Meyburg [eds.], Raptors Worldwide, pp. 557–568. World Working
Group on Birds of Prey/MME-BirdLife, Hungary, Berlin.). This is
the first report of an S. cheela feeding on a pythonid snake.
VINOD K. GOEL (e-mail: vinodkumargoel394@gmail.com), BHARAT
GOEL (e-mail: bharat@wildnest.in); ANDREW M. DURSO, Department of
Biology, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322, USA (e-mail: amdurso@
gmail.com).
SIBYNOMORPHUS NEUWIEDI (Neuwiedi’s Snail-eating
Snake). CHROMATIC ANOMALY. Chromatic anomalies in snakes
are divided into two main groups: I) aberrant coloration and II)
aberrant dorsal pattern (Bérnils et al. 1991. Rev. Biotemas 3:129–
132). Reports of such anomalies have been published sporadi-
cally since the beginning of the 20th century (e.g., Amaral 1925.
Contrib. Harvard Inst. Trop. Biol. Med. 2:44–46). The rarity of
such anomalies is attributed to stabilizing selection against them
(Amaral 1932. Mem. Inst. Butantan. 7:81–87). However, despite
their rarity, reports of chromatic anomalies are important to bet-
ter understand the development and evolution of color pattern
variation in snakes (Lema 1960. Iheringia [Zool.] 13:20–27).
The South American genus Sibynomorphus (Dipsadidae)
comprises eleven species of medium-sized, gastropod-eating,
nocturnal snakes found west of the Andes in northern Peru and
southwestern Ecuador, and east of the Andes south of the Ama-
zon basin in South America (Cadle 2007. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool.
158:183–283; Costa and Bérnils 2015. Herpetol. Bras. 4:75–93).
Several cases of type I anomalies are reported in the literature,
including both xanthism and albinism in S. mikanii (originally
misidentified as S. turgidus; Amaral 1934. Mem. Inst. Butantan.
8:151–153; Sazima and Di-Bernardo 1991. Mem. Inst. Butantan
53:167–173), and albinism in S. neuwiedi (Sazima and Di-Bernar-
do, op. cit.) and S. ventrimaculatus (Abegg et al. 2014. Herpetol.
Notes 7:475–476).
Here we report an adult female S. neuwiedi (Museu de Zoo-
logia João Moojen [MZUFV ] 1682; total length = 367 mm) from
Mata do Paraíso (municipality of Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil:
20.8023°S, 42.8585°W, WGS 84; 750 m elev.) with a type II chro-
matic anomaly (Bérnils et al., op. cit.; Fig. 1). Non-anomalous
individuals have a dorsal pattern of dark transverse blotches
that decrease in thickness and regularity from head to tail, usu-
ally separated by lighter, wider interspaces and alternating with
subtle longitudinal blotches. The ventral pattern is typically
homogeneously scattered lateral dark pigments against a light
background (Franco 1994. Dissertação de Mestrado, Instituto de
Biociências, PUCRS. 148 pp.). Instead, MZUFV 1682 has two rows
of fused blotches that are much longer than they are wide, with
reduced interspaces, one above and the other below a continu-
ous thin dark lateral line. The ventral region is almost completely
depigmented.
Some studies suggest that type I chromatic anomalies might
play a role in the ecology of the carrying animal, especially on
the ecology of fossorial or nocturnal foraging behavior snakes
(e.g., Sazima and Di-Bernardo 1991, op. cit.; Silva et al. 2010, op.
cit.; Sueiro et al. 2010, op. cit.; Abegg et al. 2014, op. cit.; Abegg et
al. 2015, op. cit.). However, little is known about the influence of
type II chromatic anomalies, if any, on snake ecology. We thank
Henrique C. Costa for a critical reading and helpful comments
and Katie Lempke for the English review.
LARISSA F. ARRUDA (e-mail: larissaf.arruda@gmail.com), HENRIQUE
FOLLY, JHONNY J. M. GUEDES, and RENATO N. FE IO, Museu de Zoolo-
gia João Moojen, Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal
de Viçosa. CEP 36570-000, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
SIPHLOPHIS LEUCOCEPHALUS (Common Spotted Night
Snake). DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOR. Defense strategies are quite
diverse among snakes (Greene 1988. In Gans and Huey [eds.],
Biology of the Reptilia, Volume 16, Ecology B: Defense and Life
History, pp. 1–152. Alan R. Liss Inc., New York). Most tactics
are used against visually oriented predators and are related to
habitat. Terrestrial species display defensive behaviors against
Fig. 1. Sibynomorphus neuwiedi (MZUFV 1682) with a type II chro-
matic anomaly. A) Dorsal view; B) ventral view; and C) lateral view.
Fig. 1. Siphlophis leucocephalus forming a ball and hiding its head.
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