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Micrurus hemprichii ortoni
Micrurus hemprichii is a medium sized snake (50-60 cm) with 90 cm being the maximum length. This one was 72.5 cm. The snout, top of the head to the posterior edge of the parietals as well as the mental and first infralabials are all black. Posteriorly there is an orange band that extends forward to the rest of the head. There are 5-10 triads on the body plus up to 2 more on the tail. The triads consist of longer black rings separated by two narrow white rings and a wider orange ring. There are 3 black rings between each orange ring, hence “triad” (orange-black-white-black-white-black-orange). M. hemprichii can easily be differentiated from all others in the Micrurus genus as it is the only one with a single anal scale as opposed to a divided anal scale. As with most coral snakes, when threatened, they twitch violently, throwing themselves in figure "S's" and guarding their head while waving their tail to distract enemies.
This coral snake is found on the Amazonian slopes of the Andes and the Amazon Basin in most countries North of the Amazon River, and in Bolivia. This individual was found on a trail (670 masl) in the early morning hours in the Amazon rainforest of SE Ecuador. M. hemprichii ortoni prefers moist leaf litter on the forest floor.
There are two subspecies recognized: M. h. hemprichii in eastern Colombia, Southern Venezuela, the Guianas, and northeastern Brazil. This specimen is a M. h. ortoni, which is found along the Orinocoan and Amazonian slopes of the Andes in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Their diet, along with snakes as with other corals, includes amphisbaenas, lizards and their principal food, the velvet worm (Peripatus sp.).
Spotted on Jan 26, 2015
Submitted on Apr 29, 2019
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