Drymarchon melanurus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Colubridae

Scientific Name: Drymarchon melanurus (Dumeril, Bibron & Dumeril, 1854)
Common Name(s):
English Western Indigo Snake, Central American Indigo Snake
Spilotes melanurus Dumeril, Bibron & Dumeril, 1854
Taxonomic Notes: Wüster et al. (2001) described a new species of Drymarchon from northwestern Venezuela, bringing the species total for the genus to four (five if couperi is recognized as a species). This taxonomic rearrangement treats D. corais and D. melanurus as distinct species. The species in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America west of the Andes and in Venezuela is D. melanurus. D. corais occurs in South America east of the Andes (Wüster et al. 2001). Crother et al. (2003) adopted this taxonomy.

The former subspecies couperi was proposed as a distinct species by Conant and Collins (1991), based on previously published (but unspecified) morphological differences and application of the evolutionary species concept. Recent checklists (e.g., Crother et al. 2000, Collins and Taggart 2002) have listed couperi as a species, although no new data supporting the split have been presented. This assessment accepts Drymarchon couperi as a species, based on similar treatment in most relevant recent literature (e.g., Crother et al. 2000). However, further study is warranted to clarify this arrangement.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2013-10-25
Assessor(s): Gutiérrez-Cárdenas, P. & Rivas, G.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Rodríguez, J. & NatureServe
Listed as Least Concern because of its extremely wide distribution, presumed large population, occurrence in multiple protected areas, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for any of the threatened categories.


Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Range extends from southern Texas (USA) and Sonora (Mexico) southward through the Gulf Coast of Mexico to the Yucatan peninsula including Guatemala and Belize, and on the Pacific slope from Sinaloa (Mexico) southward to lower Central America and northern South America (Campbell 1998) including Ecuador (A. Almendariz pers. comm. 2016) and Peru where it occurs along the equatorial dry forest in northwestern parts of the country (P. Venegas pers. comm. 2016).  The type locality for Drymarchon melanurus is in Mexico; however, research is needed to determine if the subpopulations in South America are conspecific with those in Mexico (G. Rivas, pers. comm. 2013). Elevational range extends from near sea level to around 2,500 meters (Wilson and Johnson 2010).
Countries occurrence:
Belize; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Peru; United States
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):1900
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is represented by a large number (probably hundreds) of occurrences or subpopulations (see map in McCranie 1980). The total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 100,000 (conservatively assuming a density of at least one adult per sq. km in an area of occupancy of at least 200,000 sq. km). Overall, the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are large and probably relatively stable or at least not declining more than 10% over 10 years or three generations. The species is common in Mesoamerica. In South America, this is a rare species; there are not many records, and this snake is not easily found.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:In the northern part of its distribution it occupies a variety of habitats including savannas, mangroves, thorn forests, and taller wetter forests. In the southern part of the range, habitat includes tropical and subtropical wet, moist, and dry forests (including secondary growth and often near water), edges of forest clearings, riparian zones through open areas, savannas, and mangroves (Campbell 1998, Lee 2000). This is a primarily terrestrial snake that often uses burrows. Diurnal and crepuscular species (Venegas 2005). Eggs may be laid in gopher (Geomys) burrows or similar sites. A dead female of this species was found on a roadway in the Guajira dessert (northern Colombia) with an adult Mastigodryas pleei in its stomach (Daza-R 2005).

Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is common in the pet trade. It breeds well in captivity.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In most of the range, this species does not appear to be significantly threatened. There are no major threats to the species in Mexico. In Colombia, localized threats from deforestation may exist. There may be some harvesting for the pet trade, but this too is localized and unlikely to represent a significant risk.


Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Currently, this species is of relatively low conservation concern and does not require significant additional protection or major management, monitoring, or conservation research action, other than clarification of taxonomy is some regions. It occurs in several protected areas.

Citation: Gutiérrez-Cárdenas, P. & Rivas, G. 2017. Drymarchon melanurus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T63774A3129309. . Downloaded on 23 June 2018.
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