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Woodsnakes and Spinejaw Snakes: Tropidophiidae

Southern Bromeliad Woodsnake (ungaliophis Panamensis): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Also known as the bromeliad boa, bromeliad dwarf boa, and banana boa, the southern bromeliad woodsnake is a thin, light gray or tan snake with black triangular marks on its back. It has smooth scales along its body with one large scale on top of its snout. Adults reach about 30 inches (76 centimeters) in length.

Geographic range: They live in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama in Central America and also in Colombia in northern South America.

Habitat: It lives in a variety of forests, except those of the mountains, often crawling among the plants that grow on the upper branches and high up in the trunks of trees. It also spends considerable time on the ground.

Much of the information about southern bromeliad woodsnakes comes from captive snakes rather than those in the wild. (Illustration by Emily Damstra. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: In captivity, southern bromeliad woodsnakes will eat lizards or rodents, although young snakes typically will only eat lizards. Scientists know little about their diet in the wild, but it probably includes lizards and frogs.

Behavior and reproduction: A mild-mannered snake, this species does not bite human handlers. Even when threatened, it will not bite and instead simply coils into a ball to wait for the danger to pass. It has another defense, however, which it will use if it feels particularly frightened. That defense is an ooze that seeps from its vent and has a strong enough smell to scare off most attackers. Females do not lay eggs and instead have baby snakes. The young are about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long at birth. Scientists know little else about this snake's behavior or reproduction.

Southern bromeliad woodsnakes and people: People rarely see this snake in the wild or in pet stores.

Conservation status: Scientists know so little about this snake, including how many of them live in the wild, that they cannot make any statements about its conservation status. ∎



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Web sites

"Talking Taino: Lizards and Snakes." Times of the Islands. Summer 2004. http://www.timespub.tc/Natural%20History/Archive/Summer2003/ttsnake.htm (accessed on September 15, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesWoodsnakes and Spinejaw Snakes: Tropidophiidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Southern Bromeliad Woodsnake (ungaliophis Panamensis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, SPINEJAW SNAKES WOODSNAKES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVA