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Middle American indigo snake
Drymarchon melanurus Tropicario.JPG
Drymarchon melanurus
Drymarchon melanurus.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Genus:
Drymarchon
Species:
melanurus
Subspecies

Five, see text.

Synonyms
  • Spilotes melanurus
    A.M.C. Duméril, Bibron & A.H.A. Duméril, 1854
  • Spilotes corais melanurus
    Cope, 1893
  • Morenoa orizabensis
    Dugès, 1905
  • Drymarchon corais melanurus
    — Amaral, 1929
  • Drymarchon melanurus
    — Wüster et al., 2001

The Middle American indigo snake (Drymarchon melanurus), also known commonly as the blacktail cribo, is a species of large, nonvenomous, snake in the family Colubridae. The species is endemic to the southwestern United States, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. In addition to the nominotypical subspecies, it has four other recognized subspecies, including D. m. erebennus commonly known as the Texas indigo snake.

Description

D. melanurus is a large species that can grow to a total length (including tail) of 1.80 m (6 ft) to over 2.40 m (8 ft). This species has predominantly olive-brown glossy dorsal scales evolving to black at the tail. The underside is a lighter olive-yellow, olive-tan color. D. melanurus has distinctive dark markings round the eyes, a vertical dark slash just behind the jaw. and a heavy diagonal dark slash on both sides of the neck. The subspecies D. m. erebennus is predominantly solid black, though there can be lighter shaded variations.

Geographic range and habitat

The geographic range of D. melanurus extends from southern Texas southwards through the Gulf Coast of Mexico, the Yucatan peninsula, Guatemala and Belize. On the Pacific coast its range extends from Sinaloa in Mexico, southward to Guatemala, as far as Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Its elevational distribution goes from near sea level up to around 1,900 m asl (6,230 feet). The subspecies D. m. erebennus is found in southern Texas and southwards into Mexico as far as Veracruz.

Subspecies

There are five subspecies of D. melanurus which are recognized as being valid, including the nominate subspecies.

  • Drymarchon melanurus erebennus (Cope, 1860)
  • Drymarchon melanurus melanurus (A.M.C. Dumeril, Bibron & A.H.A. Dumeril, 1854)
  • Drymarchon melanurus orizabensis (Dugès, 1905)
  • Drymarchon melanurus rubidus H.M. Smith, 1941
  • Drymarchon melanurus unicolor H.M. Smith, 1941

Nota bene: A trinomial authority in parentheses indicates that the subspecies was originally described in a genus other than Drymarchon.

  • Dugès A (1905). "Description d'un Ophidien nouveau du Mexique ( Morenoa orizabensis, g. et sp. nn.) ". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1905 (2): 517-518. (Morenoa orizabensis, new species, pp. 517–5-8, Text-figure 77). (in French).
  • Duméril A-M-C, Bibron G, Duméril A[-H-A] (1854). Erpétologie générale ou histoire naturelle complète des reptiles. Tome septième. Première partie. Comprenant l'histoire des serpents non venimeux. Paris: Roret. xvi + 780 pp. (Spilotes melanurus, new species, pp. 224–225). (in French).
  • Heimes, Peter (2016). Snakes of Mexico: Herpetofauna Mexicana Vol. I. Frankfurt, Germany: Chimaira. 572 pp. ISBN: 978-3899731002.
  • Smith HM (1941). "A review of the subspecies of the indigo snake (Drymarchon corais)". Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 31: 466-481. (Drymarchon corais rubidus, new subspecies, pp. 474–476; Drymarchon corais unicolor, new subspecies, pp. 470–472).
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