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620 Natural History Notes

(25.139098°N, 80.932128°W; datum WGS84). On closer inspection we ascertained the presence of an adult S. miliarius in the bird’s beak (Fig. 1). We witnessed the heron thrash the snake approximately eight times in a 15-min span, with numerous tosses by the bird to adjust its grip on the snake, positioning its beak towards the head with each toss. The snake made several attempts to wriggle free but was apparently injured by the time we arrived and we assume the struggle commenced some time before our arrival. We watched until 1907 h when the heron ingested the entire S. miliarius and then flew off. The fact that we could see resistance from the snake as it writhed and tried to escape and the lack of any visible external injuries on the snake led us to believe the interaction was an act of predation and not scavenging of a road-killed animal by the N. violacea. Although wading birds are known to consume aquatic snakes (e.g., Nerodia spp.; Ernst and Ernst, op. cit.), to our knowledge, predation by wading birds on snakes of the genus Sistrurus has not been previously reported. CHRISTOPHER R. GILLETTE, Department of Environmental Studies, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33199, USA (e-mail:; LLOYD HEILBRUM, Stetson University, Deland, Florida 32723, USA (e-mail:

TANTILLA MELANOCEPHALA (Black-headed Snake). DIET. Little natural history data are available for the large genus Tantilla, with the exception of the North American Tantilla gracilis and T. coronata (e.g., Cobb 2004. Copeia 2004:397–402; Todd et al. 2008. Copeia 2008:388–394). The available information on the diet of the widespread T. melanocephala all pertains to southeastern Brazil and suggests an exclusively invertebrate diet consisting primarily of scolopendrid centipedes (Marques and Puorto 1998. Amphibia-Reptilia 19:311–318). At 1430 h on 31 July 2010 an adult female T. melanocephala was found in a dry hole inside a steep-sided verge off a path in the Santa Lucía Cloud Forest Reserve, Pichincha, Ecuador (00.12917°N, 076.8048°W, datum WGS84; elev. ca. 1800 m). The specimen, which was in ecdysis, was found along with a number of eggs of the lizard Riama oculata. Upon capture one of the eggs was accidentally broken and the T. melanocephala subsequently started to ‘lap up’ the contents. It was unclear whether the specimen was intentionally in the area to feed upon the eggs. On closer examination, some of the eggs had hatched and others were complete but with two small holes in them, with no contents inside. We thank Earthwatch Institute for funding our fieldwork, and all of the staff at the Santa Lucía Cloud Forest Reserve and Earthwatch volunteers for their support and help. We also thank Ernesto Villacis Perez for hatching out the eggs and Vanessa Aguirre P for identification of the Riama oculata. SIMON T. MADDOCK, School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor LL57 2UW, UK (e-mail:; ELIZABETH F. SMITH (e-mail:, MIKA R. PECK (email:, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, Sussex, BN1 9QG, UK; JORGE N. MORALES Cooperativa de Conservación y Desarrollo Comunitario Sustentable Santa Lucía, Barrio La Delicia, Calle Kennedy s/n, Quito, Ecuador.

THAMNODYNASTES HYPOCONIA. DIET. Snakes of the genus Thamnodynastes are widely distributed in South America, but little information is available on their biology (Franco and Ferreira 2002. Phyllomedusa 1:57–74). Thamnodynastes hypoconia is a small (mean SVL = 300 mm), semiarboreal, nocturnal species

that inhabits riparian areas, the borders of gallery forests, marshes, and temporary ponds (Sawaya et al. 2008. Biota Neotrop. 8:127–149). On 12 January 2010, at 2114 h, in an area of Cerrado in the municipality of Borebi, São Paulo State, Brazil (22.8035°S 49.0044°W, datum WGS84; elev. 652 m) we encountered an adult T. hypoconia (SVL = 350 mm) near a pond. The animal was next to the fence of a pitfall trap. The snake was collected and placed in a plastic bag. After about 30 min we observed that the snake had regurgitated a frog, which we subsequently identified as Chiasmocleis albopunctata (SVL = 37 mm), a microhylid that occurs in open areas in the central region of South America (Caramaschi and Cruz 1997. Herpetologica 53:259–268). The animals were collected and deposited in the Scientific Collection Jorge Jim, located at Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, UNESP, Campus de Botucatu, São Paulo State, Brazil (CCJJ 7932, License IBAMA/ICMBio - SISBIO 16778-1). On the same night, about 40 calling male C. albopunctata were recorded. Thamnodynastes hypoconia seems to specialize on anurans; Sawaya et al. (2008, op. cit.) reported one of these snakes trying to eat an adult Elachistocleis ovalis. This is the first record of T. hypoconia preying upon C. albopunctata. We thank Duratex S.A. and FUNDIBIO for research support and William E. Duellman for the English revision. FÁBIO MAFFEI (e-mail:, DANIEL CONTIERI ROLIM, and JORGE JIM, Laboratório de Herpetologia, Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Botucatu, CEP 18618-000, São Paulo, Brazil.

THAMNOPHIS BRACHYSTOMA (Short-headed Gartersnake). REPRODUCTION: MAXIMUM LITTER SIZE. Maximum litter size for Thamnophis brachystoma has been reported as 14 (Hulse et al. 2001. Amphibians and Reptiles in Pennsylvania and the Northeast. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, New York. xii + 419 pp.; Swanson 1952. Am. Midl. Nat. 47:161–182). Here I report two litters exceeding this number. On 22 July 2005, I found a gravid female T. brachystoma at a site 6 km SE of Wattsburg, Erie Co., Pennsylvania, USA, that I maintained in captivity until parturition. She produced 16 young on 8 August 2005, of which 15 were live and one was stillborn. The mean mass of these 16 offspring (mean ± SD, [range]) was 0.95 ± 0.069 g (0.85–1.07 g). An additional stillborn individual (not measured) was produced on 10 or 11 August, for a total litter size of 17. Mass of the adult female on 6 August was 46.05 g, and was 23.10 g on 8 August, after parturition. The female and her living young were released at the point of capture. On 22 July 2007, I captured another gravid female (SVL = 396.8 mm, total length = 511.3 mm) at the same site. This individual gave birth to 16 live young in captivity on 2 August. Mean SVL (mean ± SD [range]) was 112.6 ± 2.13 mm (109.0–116.8 mm), and mean total length (mean ± SD, [range]) was 146.3 ± 4.25 mm (139.6–152.8 mm). There were 7 females and 9 males. The female (TREC R- 00028) and her litter (TREC R- 00029) were deposited in the collection of the Natural History Museum at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. MARK LETHABY, Natural History Museum at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, 301 Peninsula Dr., Erie, Pennsylvania 16505, USA; e-mail:

THAMNOPHIS ELEGANS (Terrestrial Gartersnake). PREDATION. At approximately 0715 h on 25 November 2009, 16 km N of Cabin City, Sanders Co., Montana, USA (47.474°N, 115.236°W, NAD83; elev. 1573 m) we observed a minimally digested Tham-

Herpetological Review 42(4), 2011

Thamnodynastes hypoconia  

thamnodynastes chiasmocleis