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

  • 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). […]
  • Brazilian microteiids - and the increase of Brazilian lizard species since 1995 May 27, 2017
    Gymnophthalmus underwoodi, a widespread all-female species.In a new paper, Ribeiro-Junior and Amaral present distribution data of all Alopoglossidae and Gymnophthalmidae lizards known from the Brazilian Amazonia. The paper presents a total of 54 species-level taxa, belonging to 17 genera and two families. This represents 22 more species-level taxa than previously reported. The results  were based […]
  • Do not publish May 27, 2017
    David Lindenmayer, Ben ScheeleScience  26 May 2017:Vol. 356, Issue 6340, pp. 800-801DOI: 10.1126/science.aan1362Biologists have long valued publishing detailed information on rare and endangered species. Until relatively recently, much of this information was accessible only through accessing specialized scientific journals in university libraries. However, much of these data have been transferred online with the advent of digital […]

RSS Herpetology of Trinidad and Tobago

  • The phylogeny of the luminous lizard of Trinidad - a new genus for the luminous lizard May 16, 2017
    The systematics and ecology of most microteiid lizards of the subfamily Cercosaurinae are poorly known. The subfamily is primarily associated with the Andean highlands where they inhabit humid forest leaf litter.  The genus Riamais the most speciose genus of the Neotropical lizard family Gymnophthalmidae. It contains more than 30 montane species that range throughout the […]
    John Murphy
  • Cuiver’s Dwarf Caiman, Paleosuchus palpebrosus January 23, 2017
    The Dwarf Caiman has males that are slightly larger than females (1.3-1.5 m); females reach about 1.2 m. They are distributed in northern and central South America from Trinidad southward to Paraguay. The Dwarf Caiman tends to use fast-moving streams in forested habitats that are cooler than stream in more open habitat,. The streams may […]
    John Murphy
  • Johnstone's Rain Frog, Eleutherodactylus johnstonei January 23, 2017
    Johnstone's Rain Frog, Eleutherodactylus johnstonei (Family Craugastoridae) Males 17-25 mm, females, 17-35 mm. Dorsum brown or gray brown with one or two darker chevrons; a narrow middorsal stripe or a pair of broad dorsal stripes may be present;skin smooth to slightly tuberculate; distinct tympanum; small, rounded finger and toe disks; digits lack webbing. Native to […]
    John Murphy