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Feeding, reproduction and growth in the crowned snake

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The crowned snake Tantilla melanocephala is a small fossorial sonorine snake, widely distributed through South America. Dissection of 186 specimens, combined with observations of captive specimens, provided information on the natural history of this species in southeastern Brazil. Females attained larger body sizes than males. Apparently T. melanocephala forage at night for active prey. Centipedes of the genus Otostigmus were the main prey item. These centipedes are subdued by injection of venom. Data from preserved specimens showed no significant seasonal variation in the number of collected snakes. Reproduction seemed to be highly seasonal with vitellogenesis occurring from onset to the middle of the rainy season and hatching at the end of the rainy season. Clutch size ranged from one to three and was correlated with female body length. Neonates measured 10-12 cm snout-vent length and juveniles attained about 17.5 cm SVL during the first year. Apparently males attain sexual maturity at an age of about 10 months and females at about 20 months.

Affiliations: 1: Laboratório de Herpetologia, Instituto Butantan, Av. Vital Brasil 1500, 05535-900, São Paulo, SP, Brasil


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