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Anilius scytale.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Infraorder: Alethinophidia
Superfamily: Anilioidea
Family: Aniliidae
Stejneger, 1907
Genus: Anilius
Oken, 1816
Species: A. scytale
Binomial name
Anilius scytale
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Aniliidae are a monotypic family[2] created for the monotypic genus Anilius[3] that contains the single species A. scytale.[4] Common names include American pipe snake and false coral snake.[2] It is found in South America. This snake possesses a vestigial pelvic girdle that is visible as a pair of cloacal spurs. It is ovoviviparous. It is non-venomous, and its diet consists mainly of amphibians and other reptiles. Currently, two subspecies are recognized, including the typical form described here.[4]


Spectacled caiman and false coral snake by Maria Sibylla Merian

This species is found in the Amazon rainforest of South America, the Guianas, and Trinidad and Tobago. It is a moderate-sized snake attaining a size of about 70 cm (28 in) in length. It is reported to be ovoviviparous and feeds on beetles, caecilians (burrowing amphibians), amphisbaenids (legless lizards), small fossorial snakes, fish, and frogs. It has a cylindrical body of uniform diameter and a very short tail; it is brightly banded in red and black (but without yellow bands); reduced eyes lie beneath large head scales. It is considered to be the snake that most resembles the original and ancestral snake condition, such as a lizard-like skull.[5]

Geographic range[edit]

They are found in the tropics of northern South America from southern and eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana south through the Amazon Basin of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. The type locality given is "Indiis".[1]


Subspecies[4] Taxon author[4] Common name Geographic range
A. s. phelpsorum Roze, 1958
A. s. scytale (Linnaeus, 1758)


Modern classifications restrict the family to the South American red pipe snake or false coral snake Anilius scytale, with the previously included Asian genus Cylindrophis raised to a separate family, Cylindrophiidae. Anilius is not closely related to Asian pipesnakes. Instead, its closest relatives appear to be the Neotropical Trophidophiidae.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ a b "Aniliidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  3. ^ "Anilius". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Anilius scytale". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  5. ^ Evolution – snake
  6. ^ Pyron RA, Burbrink FT, Wiens JJ. 2013. A phylogeny and revised classification of Squamata, including 4161 species of lizards and snakes. BMC evolutionary biology 13: 93.

Further reading[edit]

  • Boos HEA. 2001. The Snakes of Trinidad and Tobago. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 1-58544-116-3.
  • Martins M, Oliveira ME. 1999. Natural history of snakes in forests of the Manaus region, Central Amazonia, Brazil. Herpetological Natural History 6: 78-150. PDF.

External links[edit]