Oxybelis aeneus

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Oxybelis aeneus
Oxybelis aeneus.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Oxybelis
Species: O. aeneus
Binomial name
Oxybelis aeneus
(Wagler, 1824)

Oxybelis aeneus, commonly known as the Mexican vine snake or brown vine snake, is a species of colubrid snake, which is endemic to the Americas.

Geographic range[edit]

It is found from southern Arizona in the United States,[5] through Mexico, to northern South America and Trinidad and Tobago.


This is an extremely slender snake that reaches up to 1.9 metres (6.2 ft) in length. Its color may vary from gray to brown with a yellow underside.

The body is laterally compressed.[3] The snout is prominent, its length more than two times the diameter of the eye. There is 1 preocular, and there are 2 postoculars. There is 1 anterior temporal, and there are 2 posterior temporals.[2] There is no loreal scale, and there are 8-10 upper labials.[4]

The smooth dorsal scales are arranged in 17 rows at midbody.[2]

Ventrals 173-205;[4] subcaudals 150-188, divided (paired).[2] The anal plate is divided in Arizona specimens,[3] but is entire in South American specimens.[2]

Common names[edit]

In Arizona it is also called "pike-headed tree snake".[3] In Trinidad and Tobago, it is known as a "horse whip" or "vine snake".


Mostly arboreal and diurnal, this snake is quite often mistaken for a vine. When threatened, it sometimes releases foul smelling secretions from its vent.


It feeds mainly on lizards, but also eats frogs and birds.


O. aeneus is a mildly venomous rear-fanged snake, but it is not considered dangerous to humans. However, a bite can cause an itching sensation.


Oxybelis aeneus is oviparous. Clutch sizes of 3-6 have been published. In Arizona, hatching occurs in September.[6]


  1. ^ a b The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
  2. ^ a b c d e Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume III., Containing the Colubridæ (Opisthoglyphæ and Proteroglyphæ),... Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, Printers.) London. xiv + 727 pp. + Plates I.- XXV. (Oxybelis argenteus, pp. 190-191.)
  3. ^ a b c d Wright, A.H., and A.A. Wright. 1957. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Comstock. Ithaca and London. 1,105 pp. (in 2 volumes) (Oxybelis aeneus auratus, pp. 563, 565-569, Figure 167., Map 44.)
  4. ^ a b c Smith, H.M., and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Golden Press. New York. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3 (paperback). (Oxybelis aeneus, pp. 188-189.)
  5. ^ Brennan, Thomas C. "Brown Vine Snake (Oxybelis aeneus)". Online Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  6. ^ Goldberg, S.R. 1998. Reproduction in the Mexican vine snake Oxybelis aeneus. Texas Journal of Science 50 (1): 51-56.

Further reading[edit]

  • Boos, Hans E.A. (2001). The Snakes of Trinidad and Tobago. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 1-58544-116-3. 
  • Wagler, "Jean" [sic]. 1824. Serpentum Brasiliensium species novae, ou histoire naturelle des espèces nouvelles de serpens,... IN: Spix, '"Jean de" [sic]. Animalia nova sive species novae. Hübbschmann. Munich. viii + 75 pp. + Plates I.- XXVI. (Dryinus aeneus, pp. 12–13 + Plate III.)

External links[edit]