Colubrid Snakes

    Related Articles


    Colubridae is the largest snake family and includes about two-thirds of all living snake species. Colubrid species are found on every continent except Antarctica. While most colubrids are not venomous (or have venom that is not known to be harmful to humans) and are mostly harmless, a few groups, such as genus Boiga, can produce medically significant bites, while the boomslang, the twig snakes, and the Asian genus Rhabdophis have caused human fatalities.

    The Colubridae family includes the following genera:

    • Arizona – Glossy Snakes
    • Bogertophis – Desert Ratsnakes
    • Boigas – Catsnakes
    • Cemophora – Scarlet Snakes
    • Chilomeniscus – Sandsnakes
    • Chionactis – Shovel-nosed Snakes
    • Coluber – Racers
    • Conopsis
    • Dendrelaphis – Asian Tree Snakes, Bronzebacks
    • Dendrophidion
    • Dryadophis
    • Drymarchon – Indigo Snakes
    • Drymobius – Neotropical Racers
    • Elaphe – Corn Snakes, Fox Snakes, Rat Snakes, Ratsnakes
    • Ficimia – Mexican Hook-nosed Snakes, Southern Hook-nosed Snakes
    • Gyalopion – Hook-nosed Snakes, Western Hook-nosed Snakes
    • Lampropeltis – Kingsnakes, Milk Snakes
    • Leptophis
    • Masticophis – Coachwhips, Racers, Striped Racers, Whipsnakes
    • Mastigodryas
    • Amaral
    • Opheodrys – Green Snakes, Greensnakes
    • Phyllorhynchus – Leaf-nosed Snakes
    • Pituophis – Bullsnakes, Gopher Snakes, Pine Snakes, Pinesnakes
    • Pseudoficimia
    • Rhinocheilus – Long-nosed Snakes
    • Salvadora – Patch-nosed Snakes
    • Scaphiodontophis
    • Senticolis – Green Ratsnakes, Mountain Rat Snakes
    • Sonora – North American Ground Snakes, North American Groundsnakes
    • Spilotes
    • Stenorrhina
    • Stilosoma
    • Tantilla – Black-headed Snakes, Crowned Snakes
    • Homalopsinae
    • Natricinae
    • Xenodontinae


    The Boodontinae which is a subfamily of the Colubrid snakes may contain as many as 45 species in 15 genera. However the allocation of many of them is uncertain. At the very least, boodontines encompass several moderate-sized, smooth-scaled, oviparous, nocturnal, constricting snakes. Among them are a dozen or more species of African housesnakes (Lamprophis), terrestrial serpents that feed largely on rodents.

    • Six species of African watersnakes (Lycodonomorphus) hunt fish underwater, constrict their prey and even swallow small items while submerged.
    • African wolf snakes, so named for their long front teeth, feed mainly on skinks; they also have flat heads and peculiarly shiny skin, perhaps associated with their squeezing through crevices.
    • Ten species of African filesnakes (Mehelya, unrelated to Australasian filesnakes) eat mainly other snakes. One 1.6-m Cape filesnake contained a 1-m Olive Grass Snake, and 82-cm African Rock Python, a 53-cm Brown Watersnake, and a 48-cm Spitting Cobra. The triangular cross-sectional shape, the basis for the common name of these snake-eaters, might identify them as non-prey if seized by other filesnakes.
    • This large subfamily is worldwide, although primarily confined to the Northern Hemisphere. North American Racers and whipsnakes are slender, fast-moving diurnal creatures. Thirteen species of Eurasian dwarfsnakes (Eirenis) range from small arthropod eaters to moderate-sized predators on lizards.
    • The Asian Banded Ratsnake reaches the unusual length of at least 2.3 m, and females guard their clutches. Other prominent Eurasian colubrids include several dozen species of whipsnakes (Coluber)
    • Many temperate North American colubrids are large and usually diurnal; they are among the most popular snakes as pets. One clade includes Eastern Pinesnakes and their relatives, as well as various rat snakes (Bogertophis and Elaphe), all-powerful constrictors that feed mainly on mammals and occasionally on birds.
    • Most species of rat snakes and some Gopher Snakes are semiarboreal, whereas Eastern Pinesnakes are decidedly fossorial. All species of Pituophis have a unique cartilaginous keel in front of the glottis; this structure amplifies hissing and enhances their resemblance to venomous rattlesnakes.
    • Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis) are traditionally grouped apart from rat snakes because of their single anal scale and smooth dorsal scales (their generic name means “bright skin”). The widespread Common Kingsnake occasionally eats pitvipers and is immune to their venom.
    • The Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake eats lizards, mice, and nestling birds. Oddly enough, this beautiful, long-tailed species is both secretive, often sheltering in rock piles, and sometimes semiarboreal in its hunting and escape behavior. Related taxa include scarlet snakes and long-nosed snakes – two groups of burrowing predators on squamates and their eggs.
    • Glossy snakes and some other nocturnal species can vary pupil shape from round in darkness to semi-elliptical in bright light.
    • Bogertophis and Elaphe snakes are powerful constrictors that feed mainly on mammals and sometimes on birds.
    • Cemophora coccinea
    • Sand snakes and shovel-nosed snakes have countersunk lower jaws, concave bellies, and valvular nostrils that facilitate locomotion under the sand.
    • Shovel-nosed snakes eat primarily roaches and scorpions.
    • The 10 species of bronzebacks are excellent climbers and feed mainly on lizards. Named for iridescence of their dorsal scles, bronzebacks inflate their necks when threatened, exposing bright blue, yellow, or red interscalar skin.
    • These neotropical racers are primarily terrestrial and feed mainly on frogs.
    • Dryadophis dorsalis
    • Speckled Racer Drymobius margaritiferus
    • Sonoran Whipsnake Masticophis bilineatus
    • North American whip snakes are slender, fast-moving diurnal creatures. Large Masticophis feed on a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates.
    • Orange-bellied Racer Mastigodryas melanolomus
    • Some diurnal active tropical colubrids sleep exposed on vegetation, thereby escaping ants and other ground-bound predators.
    • Rough Green Snake Opheodrys aestivus
    • Rough Green Snakes are among early maturing colubrids with low survivorship, young adults with large clutches. They are arboreal predators on caterpillars and crickets.
    • Saddled Leaf-nosed Snake (Phyllorhynchus browni)
    • Leaf-nosed snakes feed on lizards.
    • Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)
    • Western Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)
    • If forcibly restrained, Long-nosed Snakes exude blood from around the eyes, nostrils, and cloaca.
    • Coast Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis virgultea)
    • Patch-nosed snakes catch whip-tailed lizards and use their modified snouts to dig for lizard eggs.
    • Neck-banded Snake (Scaphiodontophis annulatus)
    • The neotropical Neck-banded Snake specilizes on skinks, with the aid of folding teeth that prevent the slippery lizards from escaping.
    • Green Ratsnake (Senticolis triaspis intermedia)
    • File-tailed Groundsnake (Sonora aemula)
    • The File-tailed Groundsnake of northern Mexico is a mimic of New World coral snakes and has a peculiar spinose tail, perhaps used in burrowing.
    • Tiger Rat Snake Spilotes pullatus
    • Tiger Rat Snake attain almost 3 m in length and climb tall trees with astonishing skills; they feed on lizards, birds, and mammals as large as squirrels.
    • Western Black-headed Snake (Tantilla planiceps)
    • Black-headed snakes often have two possible functional fangs at the back of each upper jaw. They immobilize centipedes with venom and are immune to bites from their victims.
    • False Jararaca Xenodon neuwiedi
    • Northern Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus)
    Video Credits: BadChoiceNoah
    Image Credits: Augustus Binu, WikiMedia


    Other Topics

    Rocks and Coral For Marine Aquarium

    Naturally, you don't want a bare tank with just water and sand. Correctly placed pieces of rocks and coral will not only improve the appearance of your...

    Hermit Thrush

    Overview The song of Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) is an extraordinary sequence of phrases on varying pitches. Each...

    Male Cat Aggression

    Your male cat suddenly starts jumping on other household cats, biting and swatting them. He has even bitten you once or twice....

    Fox Sparrow

    Overview The Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) is a relatively large species. It is brown, red-brown, or gray above...

    A Cat Who Wiped Out An Entire Bird Species

    Overview There was a cat named Tibbles who was owned by a lighthouse keeper. The cat became infamous...