Published April 28, 2024. Open access.

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Blotchbelly Marsh-Snake (Erythrolamprus lamonae)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Serpentes | Colubridae | Erythrolamprus lamonae

English common name: Blotchbelly Marsh-Snake.

Spanish common names: Culebra pantanera ventrimanchada, culebra boba de Lamon.

Recognition: ♂♂ 36.8 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=29.7 cm..1 Erythrolamprus lamonae is a medium-sized snake having an olive, olive brown, or grayish brown dorsal coloration with thin black stripes along the posterior half of the body and tail (Fig. 1).24 This species differs from Chironius monticola by being smaller (total length <1 m), having contrasting black stripes on the body (not only on the tail), and by having black-checkered yellow ventral surfaces.24 From E. reginae, it differs by having broad, instead of thin, posterior lateral black stripes.4

Figure showing variation among individuals of Erythrolamprus lamonae in Ecuador

Figure 1: Individuals of Erythrolamprus lamonae from the slopes of Volcán Sumaco () and Yanayacu Biological Station (), Napo province, Ecuador.

Natural history: Erythrolamprus lamonae is a diurnal and terrestrial snake that inhabits pristine cloud forests as well as areas having a matrix of pastures, plantations, rural gardens, and remnants of native vegetation.1 Blotchbelly Marsh-Snakes are typically seen active during sunny mornings, basking in open areas or foraging on leaf-litter or among grass.1 One individual was found hidden under moss in a pasture during a cloudy day.1 There is no published information about the diet or reproduction of E. lamonae. 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 Blotchbelly Marsh-Snake is aglyphous, meaning its teeth lack specialized grooves to deliver venom.5

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances.. The status of Erythrolamprus lamonae has not yet been formally assessed by the IUCN. In this account, the species is proposed to be assigned to the Least Concern category given that its wide distribution precludes it from being included in a threatened category.6 The main threat to the long-term survival of some populations of E. lamonae is the continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat, mostly due to encroaching human activities such as agriculture, cattle grazing, and the replacement of native vegetation with eucalyptus and pine trees.

Distribution: Erythrolamprus lamonae is widespread along the Amazonian slopes of the Andes in Ecuador (Fig. 2) and Colombia. The species also occurs in the Central Cordillera of Colombia.

Distribution of Erythrolamprus lamonae in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Erythrolamprus lamonae in Ecuador. 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),7 refers to the bright red body rings of some snakes in this genus (such as E. aesculapii). The specific epithet lamonae honors Mrs. Robert Lamon, for helping herpetologist Emmet Reid Dunn secure specimens of various Colombian snakes.

See it in the wild: In Ecuador, Blotchbelly Marsh-Snakes are recorded usually no more than once a week at any given locality. However, in areas having low vehicle traffic, such as along the vía a las Caucheras, Napo province, individuals may be seen more frequently. The snakes may be spotted as they cross trails and roads in semi-open cloud forest areas, especially during sunny mornings.

Author: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Jose VieirabAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,cAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Arteaga A (2024) Blotchbelly Marsh-Snake (Erythrolamprus lamonae). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/OZJU7150

Literature cited:

  1. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  2. Dixon JR (1983) Systematics of the Latin American snake Liophis epinephelus (Serpentes: Colubridae). In: Rhodin AGJ, Miyamata K (Eds) Advances in herpetology and evolutionary biology. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, 132–149.
  3. Dunn ER (1944) A revision of the Colombian snakes of the genera Leimadophis, Lygophis, Liophis, Rhadinaea, and Pliocercus, with a note on Colombian Coniophanes. Caldasia 2: 479–495.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. IUCN (2012) IUCN Red List categories and criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland and Cambridge, 32 pp.
  7. 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 lamonae in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

ColombiaHuilaEl GirasoliNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaHuilaEl RecreoiNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaHuilaLaguna el DoradoiNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaHuilaPalestina, 13 km SW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaHuilaParque Nacional Cueva de Los GuachárosBorja-Acosta & Galeano 2024
ColombiaHuilaPitalitoiNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaPutumayoColóniNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaPutumayoEl MiradoriNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorNapoBaezaPhoto by Diego Piñán
EcuadorNapoCuyuja, 2 km E ofHinojosa-Almeida 2021
EcuadorNapoEl ChacoThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorNapoGuango LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorNapoRío CosangaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorNapoSendero Volcán SumacoTorres-Carvajal & Hinojosa 2020
EcuadorNapoYanayacu Biological StationThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorSucumbíosCarretera La Bonita–Santa BárbaraHinojosa-Almeida 2021
EcuadorSucumbíosLa BonitaReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorSucumbíosSlopes of Reventador VolcanoReptiles of Ecuador book database