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CITES Appendix II (CITES)[2]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Loxocemidae
Cope, 1861
Genus: Loxocemus
Cope, 1861
L. bicolor
Binomial name
Loxocemus bicolor
Cope, 1861
  • Loxocemi - Cope, 1861
  • Loxocemina - Boulenger, 1879
  • Loxoceminae - Romer, 1956
  • Loxocemidae - McDowell, 1975[3]

  • Loxocemus - Cope, 1861
  • Plastoseryx - Jan, 1862[3]

  • L[oxocemus]. bicolor - Cope, 1861
  • Plastoseryx Bronni - Jan, 1862
  • Loxocemus Sumichrasti - Bocourt, 1876
  • Loxocemus Sumichrasti - Bocourt, 1876
  • Loxocemus bicolor - Boulenger, 1896
  • Loxocemus bicolor bicolor - Woodbury & Woodbury, 1944
  • Loxocemus bicolor sumichrasti - Woodbury & Woodbury, 1944[3]

Loxocemus bicolor,[4] the sole member of the monotypic family Loxocemidae[5] and commonly known as the Mexican python,[5] Mexican burrowing python[6] and Mexican burrowing snake, is a species of python-like snake found in Mexico and Central America. No subspecies are currently recognized.[7] Analyses of DNA show that Loxocemus is most closely related to the true pythons and the sunbeam snakes.[8][9]


Adults grow to a maximum of 1.57 m (62 in) in length.[10] On average this snake grows to roughly 91 cm (2.99 ft). The body is stout and very muscular. The snout is shovel-shaped, with a narrow head and small eyes to facilitate burrowing. It has been observed that both male and females have various scent glands on their bodies that secrete fatty acids and alcohols to deter nuisance arthropods, such as ants or other burrowing insects.[11] The species is described as terrestrial and semi-fossorial,[10] which makes them hard to observe and study. The color pattern is usually dark with patches of white scales, although occasionally after shedding all pigment will disappear, resulting in a white snake with only a small dark patch on its head. Scale coloring can also vary between pinkish-brown and reddish-brown, a source of camouflage depending on the soil type of the region an individual typically inhabits.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It is found along the Mexican Pacific versant at low to moderate elevations in the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán, Morelos, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas. From there, its range extends south through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. The type locality given is "La Unión, San Salvador" (in El Salvador).[3]

Life cycle[edit]

They are found in a variety of habitats, including tropical, moist, and dry forests. In Honduras and Guatemala, they also occur in dry inland valleys that drain into the Caribbean.[3] Their diet is believed to consist of rodents and lizards. In addition, they prey on arthropods, such as underground insects and centipedes, as well as worms. They have also been observed eating iguana eggs, in addition to having been observed to eat sea turtle eggs and hatchlings when food is scarce.[12] They are oviparous, laying small clutches of two to four eggs.[10] In order to consume eggs, individuals have been observed to wrap two to three loops of its anterior trunk to pressurize and pierce an egg before swallowing the yolk whole.[12]


  1. ^ Chaves, G.; Lamar, W.; Porras, L.W.; Sunyer, J.; Solórzano, A. (2014). "Loxocemus bicolor". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2014: e.T169678A1280046. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-1.RLTS.T169678A1280046.en. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  2. ^ "Appendices I, II and III". CITES. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. 21 May 2023. Retrieved 5 June 2023. Note: Protected as a member of the Loxocemidae.
  3. ^ a b c d e McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  4. ^ "Loxocemus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 17 August 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Loxocemidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 17 August 2007.
  6. ^ Species Loxocemus bicolor at The Reptile Database. Accessed 17 August 2007.
  7. ^ "Loxocemus bicolor". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 17 August 2007.
  8. ^ Reynolds, RG; Niemiller, ML; Revell, LJ (2014). "Toward a Tree-of-Life for the boas and pythons: multilocus species-level phylogeny with unprecedented taxon sampling" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 71: 201–213. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.11.011. PMID 24315866. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-12-02. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  9. ^ Pyron, R. A.; Reynolds, R. G.; Burbrink, F. T. (2014). "A Taxonomic Revision of Boas (Serpentes: Boidae)" (PDF). Zootaxa. 3846: 249–260. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3846.2.5.
  10. ^ a b c Loxocemidae at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 3 November 2008.
  11. ^ Schulze, Thies; Weldon, Paul J.; Schulz, Stefan (2017-07-01). "Scent gland constituents of the Middle American burrowing python, Loxocemus bicolor (Serpentes: Loxocemidae)". Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C. 72 (7–8): 265–275. doi:10.1515/znc-2017-0006. ISSN 1865-7125.
  12. ^ a b Mora, José Manuel; Robinson, Douglas C. (1984). "Predation of sea turtle eggs (Lepidochelys) by the snake Loxocemus bicolor Cope". Revista de Biología Tropical. 32 (1): 161–162. ISSN 2215-2075.

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