|Messelophis ermannorum extinct pygmy boa|
The Tropidophiidae, common name dwarf boas, 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, two living genera, containing 34 species, are recognized. Two other genera (Ungaliophis and Exiliboa) were once considered to be tropidophiids but are now known to be more closely related to boids, and are classified in the subfamily Ungaliophiinae. There are a relatively large number of fossil snakes that have been described as tropidophiids (because their vertebrae are easy to identify), but which of these are more closely related to Tropidophis and Trachyboa and which are more closely related to Ungaliophis and Exiliboa is unknown.
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 relatively small, averaging to about 30–60 cm (12–24 in) in total length (including tail).
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.
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.
Distribution and habitat
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.
|Genus||Taxon author||Species||Common name||Geographic range|
|Trachyboa||W. Peters, 1860||2||Panama, Pacific Colombia and Ecuador.|
|TropidophisT||Bibron, 1840||17||The West Indies, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador.|
- List of tropidophiid species and subspecies
- Tropidophiidae by common name
- Tropidophiidae by taxonomic synonyms
- List of snakes, overview of all snake genera.
- 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).
- "Tropidophiidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 17 August 2007.
- "Tropidophiidae". The Reptile Database. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- Tropidophiidae at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 3 November 2008.
- Tropidophiidae at Life is Short but Snakes are Long