Published April 26, 2024. Open access.

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Banded Marsh-Snake (Erythrolamprus festae)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Serpentes | Colubridae | Erythrolamprus festae

English common names: Banded Marsh-Snake, Drab Ground Snake.

Spanish common name: Culebra pantanera parduzca.

Recognition: ♀♀ 69.1 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=55.8 cm..1 Erythrolamprus festae is a medium-sized snake having a series of dark brown bands that are broder near the top of the dorsum and extend across the venter, separated from each other by pale gray interspaces (Fig. 1).2 The belly has a dark checkerboard pattern, while the supralabial scales, throat, and neck are immaculate white.2 This species differs from most other Amazonian Erythrolamprus by having a combination of 17 rows at mid-body, two preoculars, and eight supralabials.2,3 From E. breviceps, it differs by having solid bands that do not enclose thin white bars.3 From E. taeniogaster, it differs by having two preoculars, instead of only one.3

Figure showing an adult female of Erythrolamprus festae

Figure 1: Adult female of Erythrolamprus festae from Reserva Narupa, Napo province, Ecuador.

Natural history: Erythrolamprus festae is an uncommon diurnal and terrestrial to semi-aquatic snake that inhabits evergreen foothill forests, usually in or around bodies of water. Banded Marsh-Snakes also occur in grasslands and semi-open areas, but typically not far from forest cover.1 One individual was found submerged in a cold water stream at night during a full-moon night.1 Another one was seen crossing a large river during the daytime.1 In southern Ecuador, several individuals were dug up from the ground as bulldozers were clearing a patch of pristine rainforest.1 There is no published information about the diet or reproduction of E. festae. Based on its habits and what is known about marsh snakes in general, it is expected that this species feeds on frogs. The dentition in the Banded Marsh-Snake is aglyphous, meaning its teeth lack specialized grooves to deliver venom.4

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..5 Erythrolamprus festae is listed in this category mainly on the basis of the species’ wide distribution spanning many protected areas. Although, it is considered an uncommon snake, this does not necessarily mean that the species has actual low population densities.

Distribution: Erythrolamprus festae is widely distributed along the Amazonian foothills of the Andes in Ecuador (Fig. 2) and Peru.

Distribution of Erythrolamprus festae in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Erythrolamprus festae in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Valle del Río Santiago. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The name Erythrolamprus, which comes from the Greek words erythros (=red) and lampros (=brilliant),6 refers to the bright red body rings of some snakes in this genus (such as E. aesculapii). The specific epithet festae honors Dr. Enrico Festa (1868–1939), an Italian zoologist who collected the holotype of the species.

See it in the wild: In Ecuador, Banded Marsh-Snakes are recorded at a rate of about once every few months. The area having the greatest number of recent observations is the lower valley of the Río Zamora, where active snakes can be found by sampling riparian vegetation during the day.

Authors: Tatiana Molina-Moreno,aAffiliation: Departamento de Biología, Universidad de los Llanos, Villavicencio, Colombia. Andrés F. Aponte-Gutiérrez,bAffiliation: Grupo de Investigación en Ciencias de la Orinoquía, Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Orinoquía, Arauca, Colombia.,cAffiliation: Fundación Biodiversa Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia. and Alejandro ArteagadAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Alejandro ArteagadAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Molina-Moreno T, Aponte-Gutierrez AF, Arteaga A (2024) Banded Marsh-Snake (Erythrolamprus festae). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/INCU1688

Literature cited:

  1. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  2. Dixon JR (2000) Ecuadorian Peruvian, and Bolivian snakes of the Liophis taeniurus complex with descriptions of two new species. Copeia 2000: 482–490. DOI: 10.1643/0045-8511(2000)000[0482:EPABSO]2.0.CO;2
  3. Dixon JR (1989) A key and checklist to the neotropical snake genus Liophis with country lists and maps. Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service 79: 1–40. DOI: 10.5479/si.23317515.79.1
  4. Hurtado-Gómez JP (2016) Systematics of the genus Erythrolamprus Boie 1826 (Serpentes: Dipsadidae) based on morphological and molecular data. PhD thesis, Universidade de São Paulo, 62 pp.
  5. Cisneros-Heredia DF, Yánez-Muñoz M (2016) Erythrolamprus festae. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T15179235A15179244.en
  6. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.

Appendix 1: Locality data used to create the distribution map of Erythrolamprus festae in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

EcuadorMorona SantiagoGualaquizaDixon & Markezich 1979
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMéndez, 1 km S ofDixon & Markezich 1979
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMéndez, 3 km N ofDixon et al. 2000
EcuadorMorona SantiagoNormandíaDixon et al. 2000
EcuadorMorona SantiagoPuchimiTorres-Carvajal & Hinojosa 2020
EcuadorMorona SantiagoRío ZamoraiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoSardinayacuTorres-Carvajal & Hinojosa 2020
EcuadorMorona SantiagoTayuza, 5 km W ofDixon et al. 2000
EcuadorMorona SantiagoValle del Río Santiago*Peracca 1897
EcuadorNapoJatun Yaku HuasiPhoto by Jordan Espinosa
EcuadorNapoParroquia TalagDixon et al. 2000
EcuadorNapoReserva NarupaThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorNapoUniversidad IkiamPhoto by Grace Reyes
EcuadorPastazaAbitaguaDixon & Markezich 1979
EcuadorPastazaRío PastazaDixon et al. 2000
EcuadorSucumbíosEl ReventadorDixon et al. 2000
EcuadorSucumbíosHidroeléctrica Coco-Codo SinclairMECN & ENTRIX 2009–2013
EcuadorSucumbíosLumbaqui, 9 km NW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeAlto MachinazaAlmendariz et al. 2014
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeEstación Científica San FranciscoMZUA 0152; GBIF
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeGuadalupe-Rio YacuambiTorres-Carvajal & Hinojosa 2020
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeJamboéPhoto by Darwin Núñez
EcuadorZamora ChinchipePachicutzaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeRío BombuscaroiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeRoad to El PindalTorres-Carvajal & Hinojosa 2020
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeValle del QuimiBetancourt et al. 2018
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeVía a YacuambiOnline multimedia
PeruAmazonasChonza AltaVenegas et al. 2024
PeruAmazonasEl CenepaDixon et al. 2000
PeruAmazonasHuampami, vicinity ofDixon et al. 2000
PeruAmazonasRío ComainasDixon et al. 2000
PeruAmazonasTeniente Pinglo, environs ofDixon et al. 2000
PeruSan MartínTarapoto, 23 km SE ofDixon et al. 2000