Published August 13, 2023. Open access.

Gallery ❯

Chocoan Parrot-Snake (Leptophis bocourti)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Serpentes | Colubridae | Leptophis | Leptophis bocourti

English common name: Chocoan Parrot-Snake.

Spanish common name: Serpiente loro del Chocó.

Recognition: ♂♂ 167 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=105.1 cm. ♀♀ 133.7 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=82.6 cm..1,2 The Chocoan Parrot Snake (Leptophis bocourti) can be identified from other green diurnal snakes in the Ecuadorian Chocó region by having keeled dorsal scales arranged in 15 rows at mid-body, a unique color pattern, and no loreal scale.2 The dorsum is bright green with black speckling and the head scales are narrowly edged with black.2,3 In juveniles, there is a bright yellow ventrolateral stripe on the anterior third of the body.1 This species is usually confused with L. depressirostris and L. occidentalis, but both of these lack black speckling on the dorsum and the former has a loreal scale.2,3

Figure showing variation among individuals of Leptophis bocourti

Figure 1: Individuals of Leptophis bocourti from Ecuador: Durango, Esmeraldas province (); Bosque Protector La Perla, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas province (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Leptophis bocourti is an uncommon snake in Ecuador and is less frequently encountered than the co-occurring L. depressirostris.1 The species occurs in old-growth rainforest as well as in logged forests, pastures with scattered trees, gallery forests, plantations, and peri-urban areas.1 Individuals of this species are most often seen active at ground level or on low vegetation during the day, either basking or actively foraging.1 At night, they roost on understory vegetation up to 4.3 m above the ground.1 Chocoan Parrot-Snakes are active hunters having an opistoglyphous dentition, meaning they have enlarged teeth towards the rear of the maxilla and are mildly venomous.1 Therefore, they ingest prey quickly to avoid them from escaping. The diet of L. bocourti includes frogs (B. boans1 and B. pellucens4) and lizards (Polychrus gutturosus).5 A juvenile of this species was consumed by a Leptodeira ornata in Ecuador.1 The main defense mechanism of Chocoan Parrot-Snakes is to flee quickly, although they can also inflate the neck and open the mouth aggressively to appear bigger and intimidating; if this does not work, they can also strike.1

Reader support helps us keep the Reptiles of Ecuador book 100% free.

Conservation: Near Threatened Not currently at risk of extinction, but requires some level of management to maintain healthy populations.. Leptophis bocourti has only recently been recognized as a full species2,3 and its conservation status has not yet been formally evaluated by the IUCN. Here, it is proposed to be included in the Near Threatened category primarily because the species’ extent of occurrence, though small, is over the 20,000 km2 threshold needed to meet the criteria for the Vulnerable category.6 Unfortunately, based on maps of vegetation cover of Ecuador7 and Colombia,8 it is estimated that ~68% of the rainforest habitat of L. bocourti has already been destroyed due to deforestation caused by timber extraction, rural-urban development, and the expansion of the agricultural frontier. Chocoan Parrot-Snakes are frequently found dead-on-road as well as killed by local people.1

Distribution: Leptophis bocourti is native to an estimated area of 27,442 km2 on the Chocoan lowlands of northwestern Ecuador and southwestern Colombia. The species has been reported at elevations between 0 and 905 m (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Leptophis bocourti in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Leptophis bocourti in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Paramba, Imbabura province. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Leptophis comes from the Greek words leptos (=thin) and ophis (=serpent)9 and probably refers to the body shape of parrot snakes in general. The specific epithet bocourti honors Marie-Firmin Bocourt (1819–1904), a French naturalist and explorer, in recognition of his herpetological collections in Mexico and Central America.

See it in the wild: In Ecuador, Chocoan Parrot-Snakes are found at a rate of about once every few weeks in areas having adequate canopy cover, such as at Bosque Protector La Perla and Bilsa Biological Reserve. Although diurnal, these snakes are most easily spotted sleeping on vegetation along forest trails at night.

Special thanks to Steve Hart for symbolically adopting the Chocoan Parrot-Snake and helping bring the Reptiles of Ecuador book project to life.

Click here to adopt a species.

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Jason Crespo for granting access to the Bosque Protector La Perla, where the adult male of Leptophis bocourti of Fig. 1 was photographed. Thanks to Regdy Vera for providing locality data of this species.

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

Photographers: Jose VieirabAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,cAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador. and Amanda QuezadabAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,dAffiliation: Laboratorio de Herpetología, Universidad del Azuay, Cuenca, Ecuador.

How to cite? Arteaga A (2023) Chocoan Parrot-Snake (Leptophis bocourti). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/GNYK5247

Literature cited:

  1. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  2. Albuquerque NR, Fernandes DS (2022) Taxonomic revision of the parrot snake Leptophis ahaetulla (Serpentes, Colubridae). Zootaxa 5153: 001–069. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.5153.1.1
  3. Torres-Carvajal O, Terán C (2021) Molecular phylogeny of Neotropical Parrot Snakes (Serpentes: Colubrinae: Leptophis) supports underestimated species richness. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 164: 107267. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2021.107267
  4. Photo by Philipp Hoenle.
  5. Gómez-Hoyos DA, Escobar-Lasso S, Suarez-Joaqui T, Velasco JA (2015) Predation on the bush anole Polychrus gutturosus by the parrot snake Leptophis ahaetulla, with a new record of the bush anole for the Gorgona Island National Natural Park, Colombia. Herpetology Notes 8: 297–301.
  6. IUCN (2012) IUCN Red List categories and criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland and Cambridge, 32 pp.
  7. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  8. IDEAM (2014) Mapa de cobertura de la tierra adaptada para Colombia.
  9. 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 Leptophis bocourti in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

ColombiaNariñoCandelillaPhoto by Regdy Vera
ColombiaNariñoTumacoIAvH-R-7178; Borja-Acosta & Galeano Muñoz 2023
ColombiaNariñoUniversidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede NariñoPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
EcuadorCarchiFinca El EncuentroiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorCarchiTobar DonosoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasBilsa Biological StationOrtega-Andrade et al. 2010
EcuadorEsmeraldasBloque SirúaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasBosque Protector La ChiquitaMHNG 2399.056; collection database
EcuadorEsmeraldasCachabiBoulenger 1898
EcuadorEsmeraldasCanandé ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasDurangoThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorEsmeraldasEsmeraldasFMNH 28056; VertNet
EcuadorEsmeraldasFinca MolinitosAlbuquerque & Fernandes 2022
EcuadorEsmeraldasItapoa ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasLa FloridaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasLa MayrongaAlbuquerque & Fernandes 2022
EcuadorEsmeraldasLaguna de CubeAlbuquerque & Fernandes 2022
EcuadorEsmeraldasMisión Santa María de CayapasAlbuquerque & Fernandes 2022
EcuadorEsmeraldasMompicheiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasPueblo NuevoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasSameMHNG 2309.059; collection database
EcuadorEsmeraldasSan MateoAlbuquerque & Fernandes 2022
EcuadorEsmeraldasTesoro EscondidoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasTundaloma LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasZapallo GrandeAlbuquerque & Fernandes 2022
EcuadorImbaburaCarolinaAlbuquerque & Fernandes 2022
EcuadorImbaburaParamba*Boulenger 1898
EcuadorLos RíosCentro Científico Río PalenqueAlbuquerque & Fernandes 2022
EcuadorManabíCañaveralReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorManabíChibungaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorManabíEloy Alfaro, 4 km S ofPhoto by Regdy Vera
EcuadorManabíMaicitoMHNG 1367.065; collection database
EcuadorManabíRancho EmyPhoto by Regdy Vera
EcuadorManabíReserva Tito SantosHamilton et al. 2005
EcuadorManabíSesmePhoto by Regdy Vera
EcuadorManabíSesme, 5 km SW ofPhoto by Regdy Vera
EcuadorPichinchaMashpi LodgePhoto by Darío Medina
EcuadorPichinchaVía Valle HermosoThis work
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasBosque Protector La PerlaThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasHacienda TinalandiaMHNG 2250.047; collection database
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasRío Baba, 19 km S of Santo DomingoUIMNH 92277; collection database
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasRío Baba, 24 km S of Santo DomingoUIMNH 92271; collection database
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los Tsáchilas–La Concordia roadTorres-Carvajal & Terán 2021