Published May 7, 2024. Open access.

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Amazon Blunt-headed Snake (Imantodes lentiferus)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Serpentes | Colubridae | Imantodes lentiferus

English common name: Amazon Blunt-headed Snake.

Spanish common name: Cordoncillo lenteja.

Recognition: ♂♂ 99 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=68.2 cm. ♀♀ 120 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=82 cm..1,2 Imantodes lentiferus can easily be identified by having a slender body, a blunt head with symmetrical black-bordered ornamentations, and large and bulging eyes that occupy approximately a quarter of the head’s length.1,3 This species differs from I. cenchoa by having fewer rows of dorsal scales at mid-body (15 vs 17) and by having smaller reddish tan body blotches (Fig. 1).1 Although it resembles Leptodeira approximans in its coloration, it differs from it by having a compact head with more prominent eyes.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Imantodes lentiferus

Figure 1: Individuals of Imantodes lentiferus from Ecuador: Huella Verde Lodge, Pastaza province (); Copaling Lodge, Zamora Chinchipe province (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Imantodes lentiferus is a nocturnal, crepuscular, and entirely arboreal snake that inhabits well-preserved lowland and foothill rainforests, occurring in lower densities in forest-edge situations.1,4,5 Amazon Blunt-headed Snakes are typically observed coiled on, or gliding through, vegetation 0.3–2.3 m above the ground, but they also occur in the canopy.1,36 During the day, individuals have been found hidden inside bromeliads or at the base of epiphytic vegetation.7 Imantodes lentiferus has an opistoglyphous dentition, meaning it has enlarged grooved teeth towards the rear of the maxilla and is venomous to small prey, but harmless to humans.8 The diet consists of frogs (including Boana and Pristimantis)1 and lizards (including Anolis scypheus).5,9 In the presence of a disturbance, Amazon Bluntheads tends to flee towards vegetation, emitting fetid fluids through the cloaca as a defensive mechanism. These snakes are considered docile and rarely attempt to bite. The clutch size consists of 2–3 elliptical eggs with an incubation period of 125 days.13 Egg-laying occurs in the dry season and the eggs hatch in the rainy season.1

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..10 Imantodes lentiferus is listed in this category due to its wide distribution and presumed large populations that have not undergone rapid declines.10 Despite facing challenges such as deforestation and fragmentation resulting from logging, agricultural expansion, and urban development, substantial portions of undisturbed habitat are still available for this species.

Distribution: Imantodes lentiferus is widely distributed throughout the Amazon rainforest in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador (Fig. 2), Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Distribution of Imantodes lentiferus in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Imantodes lentiferus in Ecuador. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The name Imantodes comes from the Latin word immanis (=enormous) and the Greek suffix -odes (=abundance),11 probably referring to the large size of the eyes in relation to the head. The specific epithet lentiferus comes from the Latin words lentis (=lentil) and fero (=to carry),11 probably referring to the lentil-shaped markings on the head.

See it in the wild: The Amazon Blunt-headed Snake can be seen at a rate of about once every few weeks in well-preserved habitats within Yasuní Scientific Station and Jatun Sacha Biological Reserve. These snakes can be spotted by scanning understory vegetation at night, especially after a heavy rain.

Author: Amanda QuezadaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

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

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

How to cite? Quezada A (2024) Amazon Blunt-headed Snake (Imantodes lentiferus). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/LGHC3329

Literature cited:

  1. Duellman WE (1978) The biology of an equatorial herpetofauna in Amazonian Ecuador. Publications of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas 65: 1–352.
  2. Rojas SJS, Villacampa J, Whitworth A (2016) Notes on the reproduction of Kentropyx altamazonica (Squamata: Teiidae) and Imantodes lentiferus (Serpentes: Dipsadidae) from southeast Peru. Phyllomedusa 15: 69–73. DOI: 10.11606/issn.2316-9079.v15i1p69-73
  3. Myers CW (1982) Blunt-headed Vine Snakes (Imantodes) in Panama, including a new species and other revisionary notes. American Museum Novitates 2738: 1–50.
  4. Whitworth A, Beirne C (2011) Reptiles of the Yachana Reserve. Global Vision International, Exeter, 130 pp.
  5. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  6. Duellman WE (2005) Cusco amazónico: the lives of amphibians and reptiles in an Amazonian rainforest. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 433 pp.
  7. Henderson RW, Nickerson MA (1976) Observations on the behavioral ecology of three species of Imantodes (Reptilia, Serpentes, Colubridae). Journal of Herpetology 3: 205–210.
  8. Pérez-Santos C, Moreno AG (1988) Ofidios de Colombia. Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino, 517 pp.
  9. Cunha OR, Nascimento FP (1993) Ofídios da Amazônia. As cobras da região leste do Pará. Papéis Avulsos Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi 40: 9–87.
  10. Almendáriz A, Catenazzi A, Cisneros-Heredia DF, Gagliardi G, Gonzales L, Nogueira C, Schargel W, Rivas G (2015) Imantodes lentiferus. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-2.RLTS.T15179176A15179185.en
  11. 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 Imantodes lentiferus in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

ColombiaCaquetáComunidad Peña RojaUNAL 10910; GBIF
ColombiaCaquetáSur del Río PescadoMLS 1138; GBIF
ColombiaNariñoReserva La Isla EscondidaiNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaPutumayoPuerto LeguízamoUNAL 172; GBIF
ColombiaPutumayoVereda Islas de CartagenaIAvH-CT-39154; GBIF
EcuadorMorona SantiagoGualaquizaCollection database
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMacasAMNH 113663; examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMakumaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoNormandíaAMNH 35906; examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoQuebrada Río NapinazaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorMorona SantiagoShell, 4.5 km W ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoSucúaUSNM 283956; VertNet
EcuadorMorona SantiagoTaishaUSNM 162486; VertNet
EcuadorMorona SantiagoWisuiChaparro et al. 2011
EcuadorNapo10 de Agosto, 2.5 km SE ofUSNM 162493; VertNet
EcuadorNapoAhuano, 6 km W ofMCZ R-171885; VertNet
EcuadorNapoArchidonaNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorNapoBermejo,15 km ENE UmbaquiKU 121898; VertNet
EcuadorNapoCordillera del DuéKU 121899; VertNet
EcuadorNapoEl ChacoMHNG 2221.011; collection database
EcuadorNapoGarenoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorNapoHidroeléctrica Coca Codo SinclairCOCASINCLAIR 2013
EcuadorNapoHuaorani LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorNapoHuella Verde LodgeThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorNapoJatun Sacha Biological StationVigle 2008
EcuadorNapoNarupa ReserveTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorNapoSan RafaelMHNG 2309.084; collection database
EcuadorNapoTenaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorNapoTutacanoNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorNapoUniversidad IkiamPhoto by Grace Reyes
EcuadorNapoWild SumacoCamper et al. 2021
EcuadorNapoYachana ReserveBeirne et al. 2013
EcuadorOrellanaComuniad HuataracuTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorOrellanaComunidad América VergasiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorOrellanaEl CocaKU 158783; VertNet
EcuadorOrellanaHacienda PrimaveraMHNG 2413.011; collection database
EcuadorOrellanaNenkepareReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorOrellanaPaushiyacuKingsbury et al. 2008
EcuadorOrellanaPozo Capirón IINogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorOrellanaPozo Petrolero Daimi INogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorOrellanaPozo Petrolero EWANogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorOrellanaPozo Petrolero Ishpingo INogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorOrellanaReserva Río BigalGarcía et al. 2021
EcuadorOrellanaRío Yasuní, TambocochaNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorOrellanaSan José de PayaminoMaynard et al. 2016
EcuadorOrellanaTiputini Biodiversity StationiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorOrellanaVía Maxus, km 38Torres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorOrellanaYarina LodgeBringsøe 2024
EcuadorOrellanaYasuní Scientific StationiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPastazaAlto CurarayUSNM 162490; VertNet
EcuadorPastazaArajunoUSNM 287930; VertNet
EcuadorPastazaArutam Field StationSMF 90941; GBIF
EcuadorPastazaArutam, 5 km NW ofTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorPastazaBalsauraOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaCampamento K10Torres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorPastazaCampamento K4Torres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorPastazaCapahuariAMNH 49112; examined
EcuadorPastazaChichirotaUSNM 162487; GBIF
EcuadorPastazaChuyayacuTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorPastazaComunidad TiwinoUSNM 321115; VertNet
EcuadorPastazaConamboOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaConcepción, 5.5 km SE ofUSNM 167247; VertNet
EcuadorPastazaCuraray MedioReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPastazaEstación Científica Juri JuriiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPastazaFinca HeimatlosPhoto by Ferhat Gundogdu
EcuadorPastazaJuyuintzaOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaKurintzaOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaMeraTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorPastazaNuevo CorrientesNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorPastazaPalora, 7 km NE ofSMF 90944; GBIF
EcuadorPastazaRío BufeoOrtega-Andrade et al. 2010
EcuadorPastazaRío CapahuariMyers 1982
EcuadorPastazaRío Tigre (town)USNM 162489; GBIF
EcuadorPastazaRío VillanoNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorPastazaSanta Ana, 2 km NW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPastazaSanta RosaMyers 1982
EcuadorPastazaSarayacuUSNM 162491; VertNet
EcuadorPastazaSumak Kawsay In SituBentley et al. 2021
EcuadorPastazaTamandúa ReservePhoto by Jorge Flores
EcuadorPastazaTzarentzaPhoto by Darwin Núñez
EcuadorSucumbíosBosque Protector AguaricoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorSucumbíosEl ReventadorTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorSucumbíosLa BarquillaUTA 65488; GBIF
EcuadorSucumbíosLa Selva LodgeNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorSucumbíosLimoncochaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorSucumbíosManzoya, 6.5 km SW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorSucumbíosPañacochaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorSucumbíosPuerto LibreDuellman 1978
EcuadorSucumbíosRío Sabalo campsiteReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorSucumbíosSan Pablo de KantesiyaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorSucumbíosSani LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorSucumbíosSanta Cecilia Duellman 1978
EcuadorSucumbíosSanta ElenaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeCopalingaThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeFinca de Mesías San MartínTorres-Carvajal et al. 2012
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeReserva MaycuReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeSubcuenca del Río TundaymeBetancourt et al. 2018
PerúAmazonasAtsakusUSNM 316617; VertNet
PerúAmazonasGalileaUSNM 566581; VertNet
PerúAmazonasHuampamiMVZ 163287; VertNet
PerúAmazonasLa PozaMVZ 175327; VertNet
PerúAmazonasQuebrada KampankisCatenazzi and Venegas 2012
PerúAmazonasQuebrada KaterpizaCatenazzi & Venegas 2012
PerúAmazonasQuebrada Wee Catenazzi & Venegas 2012
PerúLoretoPongo ChinimCatenazzi & Venegas 2012
PerúLoretoPongo de MansericheMVZ 16907; VertNet
PerúLoretoRío YuvinetoMNHN 1978.2481; VertNet