Aquatic Snake Research

The Water Mocassin or Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon leucostoma) is the only North American pit-viper that is semiaquatic.

The Queen Snake, Regina septemvittata, is one of the most aquatic North American natricid snakes.

Oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface with a minimum of 356,000 km of coastline, yet only 2.5% (about 86 species) of the 3364 extant snakes are known to inhabit the oceans on a regular basis. It is unclear whether most of these snakes are spending substantial amounts of time in salt water and are well adapted for life in saline waters, or whether they use behavioral osmoregulation, shuttling between marine and freshwater environments while remaining dependent upon sources of freshwater. Given the low percentage of snake species in the oceans, the physical environment appears to provide challenges for snakes. A survey of lifestyles (habitat use foraging modeþdaily activity pattern þreproductive mode) of 2552 alethenophidian snakes in 459 genera revealed about 362 (14%) species using aquatic environments to varying degrees; only 70 (2.7%) of these are sea snakes (Hydrophiinae and Laticaudinae). Another 65 or more species appear to use brackish water or the ocean. The ancient Acrochordidae contains three extant species, all of which have populations in brackish, marine, and freshwater environments. The Homalopsidae containing terrestrial, semi-aquatic, and aquatic snakes has about 14 species that have invaded brackish and marine waters. The speciose Dipsadidae of the western hemisphere has at least seven species with coastal–marine populations, the cosmopolitan Natricidae has about 24 species with populations using brackish waters but most of these also have populations that primarily inhabit freshwater. The semi-aquatic, African Grayiinae has at least one species that uses brackish water. However, any aquatic or semi-aquatic snake with a coastal population is likely to visit brackish water on occasion. Flooding may move snakes downstream into estuaries, while storm surges, high tides, and rising sea levels (prehistoric marine incursions) may move saline water inland.

RSS Serpent Research

  • Caribbean Ameivas moved to the genus Pholidoscelis September 25, 2017
    The family Teiidae is a New World clade of small to large-sized lizards that tend to be active foragers, diurnal, and omnivorous. Whiptails (genus Aspidocelis)in the USA, Racerunners (genus Cnemidophorus) in the Neotropics, the giant Tegus (Tupinmabis and Salvator) in the Neotropics are a few of the major clades. The Ameiva's are primarily Neotropical but […]
  • A frog that cannot hear its own call September 25, 2017
    Pumpkin toadlets, found in the leaf litter of Brazil's Atlantic forest, are among the smallest frogs in the world.An international team from Brazil, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, has discovered that two species of these tiny orange frogs cannot hear the sound of their own calls.This is a unique case in the animal kingdom of […]
  • A new, morphologically cryptic, leaf-nesting frog of the genus Phyllomedusa May 28, 2017
    Male holotype of Phyllomedusa chaparroi sp. nov. (MUBI 13986) Casttoviejo-Fischer and colleagues describe and name the new leaf-nesting frog, Phyllomedusa chaparroi, a medium-sized species (67.9–77.5 mm) from the Amazonian rainforests of northern Peru. Morphologically the new species is most similar to P. boliviana and P. camba, it is indistinguishable from the latter in external qualitative and quantitative traits). […]

RSS Herpetology of Trinidad and Tobago

  • Hunter Destroy Trinidad's Caroni Swamp Scarlet Ibis Population August 21, 2017
    There are two serious threats to wildlife across the globe: habitat loss and market hunting. As the human population expands towards eight billion humans hunting becomes a serious threat to the survival of many species. This is particularly true in the tropics where the productivity of edible wildlife is low.Removing large numbers of animals via […]
    John Murphy
  • Small headed Treefrog, Dendropsophus microcephalus July 9, 2017
    A small yellow frog: 12-17 mm SVL; with the canthus forming a distinct ridge, and a light line from the anterior of eye to nostril. Dorsal skin smooth, ventral skin and skin under are thighs granular. Fingers with some webbing mostly reduced to bases of digits and lateral fringe; toes moderately webbed. H.goughi has a rounded […]
    John Murphy
  • The Paradox Frog, Pseudis paradoxa (Family Hylidae) July 9, 2017
    Adults are 45-75mm in total length. Body is short and stout; eyes dorsolateral; dorsal and ventral skin; fingers free of webbing, toes heavily webbed. Dorsum green anteriorly, brown to green posteriorly; flash marks on the posterior surface of the femur. Ventral immaculate white. Pseudis paradoxa has the largest, or near largest tadpoles known when compared […]
    John Murphy