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Food habits of Brazilian boid snakes: overview and new data, with special reference to Corallus hortulanus

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This study examines the diet of eight boid snakes: Boa c. constrictor, Boa c. amarali, Corallus caninus, C. hortulanus, Epicrates cenchria, E. crassus, E. assisi and Eunectes murinus mainly by analyzing the gut contents of preserved museum specimens, and includes a literature review to present an overview of the diet of Brazilian boids. Mammals constitute the primary prey consumed by the majority of the species. Birds are also frequently consumed by C. hortulanus and Boa contrictor, and are the most important prey for B. c. amarali. Ectotherms (mostly lizards) were only consumed by immature snakes. Such prey is rarely consumed by B. c. amarali and not recorded for Epicrates and Eunectes species in our dissections. C. caninus is likely a mammal specialist and Epicrates prey on birds more opportunistically. The niche overlap index varied from 0.27-0.52 for species occurring in the same bioma and geographic range but it is possible this overlap is lower as most sympatric species explore different macrohabitat. C. hortulanus exhibited a significant relationship between prey size and predator head size; this relationship did not differ among mature and immature snakes. In comparison to immature individuals heavier adult snakes fed on heavier prey items however, the ratio between prey/predator mass decreased with increase in predator mass (or size). Most boids exploit diurnal and nocturnal preys, probably using both sit-and-wait and active tactics. They feed on the ground but boas and C. hortulanus and possibly E. cenchria also exploit arboreal prey.

Affiliations: 1: Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Depto de Zoologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, CP 6109, 13083-130, Campinas, SP, Brazil, Laboratório Especial de Ecologia e Evolução, Instituto Butantan, Av. Dr. Vital Brasil 1500, 05503-900, São Paulo, SP, Brazil, School of Biological Sciences, Heydon-Laurence Building A08, The University of Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia;, Email:; 2: Laboratório Especial de Ecologia e Evolução, Instituto Butantan, Av. Dr. Vital Brasil 1500, 05503-900, São Paulo, SP, Brazil;, Email:; 3: Rua Marcolino Ribeiro, 181, Jardim Karaíba, 38411-382, Uberlândia, MG, Brazil;, Email:


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