Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Snake Charmers

Mexican Vine Snake
Our good friend and neighbor Dennis brought another snake to show us a few weeks ago. All three of us have been keeping our eyes peeled for Vine Snakes on vines and branches around here whenever and wherever we take a walk. No luck. But on this particular day, Dennis found a Vine Snake in the middle of the road just up from our house. It was a beautiful and delicate-looking little thing, about 4 feet long and pencil-thin, with a bright chartreuse throat and a curious eye. It was quite docile. At no time while we were handling it did it even open its mouth or struggle to escape, nor did it engage in the common snake strategy of releasing a foul-smelling secretion from its vent. It just kept watching us.

We think this is a Mexican Vine Snake, aka/Brown Vine Snake (Oxybelis aeneus). Dennis shared the following information from his field guide with us:

Here is what Gunther Kohler (Reptiles of Central America) says:
"...They are rear-fanged snakes, with mild venom that does not pose a serious threat to humans, but can lead to localized swelling and itching. Large specimens need to be handled with particular caution. When a vine snake is handled, it will react with a threatening gape, exposing the blue-black interior of is mouth; it will also bite without any warning. As a defensive reaction, this colubrid will continuously hold its outstretched tongue rigid with the two tips of the tongue pressed together. The precise adaptive advantage conferred by this unusual behavior remains a mystery to scientists.... "

Based on the docile behavior of this animal, which was contrary to information we were able to find for the species, we figure we were snake charmers for the few fascinating minutes that we spent with it. We were charmed as well. See Marco's video below:

1 comment:

  1. That just might be one of the coolest things ever!