From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Dwarf boa)
Jump to: navigation, search
Messelophis ermannorum 02.jpg
Messelophis ermannorum extinct pygmy boa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Infraorder: Alethinophidia
Family: Tropidophiidae
Brongersma, 1951
  • Ungualiidae Cope, 1894
  • Ungaliidae Cope, 1900
  • Tropidophinae Brongersma, 1951
  • Tropidophidae Underwood, 1976
  • Tropidophiidae Duellman, 1979
  • Tropidopheidae McDowell, 1987
  • Ungaliopheinae McDowell, 1987
  • Tropidopheinae — McDowell, 1987
  • Tropidopheidae
    H.M. Smith & Preston, 1987
  • Tropidopheoidae
    — H.M. Smith & Chiszar, 1992[1]

The Tropidophiidae, common name dwarf boas,[2] are a family of nonvenomous snakes found from Mexico and the West Indies south to southeastern Brazil. These are small to medium-sized fossorial snakes, some with beautiful and striking color patterns. Currently, four living genera, containing 22 species, and one extinct genus, with one species, are recognized.[2]


This family is confined to the neotropics, mainly in Hispaniola, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands, with the greatest diversity being in Cuba, where new species are being discovered. These snakes are very small, averaging to about 30–60 cm (12–24 in) in total length (including tail).


Most species spend their day burrowed underground or under vegetation, surfacing only at night or when it rains. Some species are arboreal and are often seen hiding in bromeliads in trees.

Color change[edit]

The dwarf boas can change color from light (when they are active at night) to dark (inactive in the day). This color change is brought about by the movement of dark pigment granules.

Defensive behavior[edit]

When threatened, tropidophiids coil up into a tight ball. A more peculiar defensive behavior is their ability to bleed voluntarily from the eyes, mouth, and nostrils.

Geographic range[edit]

They are found from southern Mexico and Central America, south to northwestern South America in Colombia, (Amazonian) Ecuador, and Peru, as well as in northwestern and southeastern Brazil, and also in the West Indies.[1]


Genus[2] Taxon author[1] Species[2] Common name Geographic range[1]
Trachyboa W. Peters, 1860 2 Panama, Pacific Colombia and Ecuador.
TropidophisT Bibron, 1840 17 The West Indies, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador.

T Type genus.[1]

See also[edit]

Cited references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e 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 c d "Tropidophiidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 17 August 2007. 

External links[edit]