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Epictia magnamaculata

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Author: Alex Rebelo

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Range: Offshore Central Americna Caribbean islands, Cozumel to San Andres Archipelago


Placed under several unspecific common names but perhaps best if it were referenced as the west-Caribbean Black Blind snake, this unique insular species is only found on disjunct offshore islands near the Central American coastline. It grows up to 22 cm in length, with a uniform cylindric build and a rounded head just broader than the neck. The tail is short and blunt, tipped not by a spine as in its relatives but instead a vertically oriented “blade” or pair of blunt points formed where scales meet at the end. The rostral scale is notably large and sagittate (leaf-shaped), creating a truncate appearance of the snout from above or below. Middorsal scale count is 219-262 (higher in southern populations), scale row count 14 reduced to 10 caudally. Coloration is tannish yellow to brown with darker brown to black longitudinal stripes and lighter ventrally, most notably under the chin. A large yellow blotch covers the rostral and parts of adjoining scales, and two smaller equal-sized yellow spots also adorn the dorsal and ventral tail surfaces. This species is distinguished by ranged, rostral shape and lack of tail spine, and various cranial scale details from its relatives.


Habitat: known from sea leverl to 200 meters in elevation in lowland hardwood rainforest, where it lives under tree bark, leaf litter, logs, and in insect nests.


Prey: likely small soft-bodied invertebrates such as ant and termite eggs and larvae.


Lifespan and reproduction: lifespan unknown, likely under 10 years. Oviparous.


Sources: Alex Rebelo
Wallach, V. (2016). Morphological review and taxonomic status of the Epictia phenops species group of Mesoamerica, with description of six new species and discussion of South American Epictia albifrons, E. goudotii, and E. tenella (Serpentes Leptotyphloptidae: Epictinae). Mesoamerican Herpetology 3: 240-249.

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