The genus Oxybelis (New World vine snakes) includes four species collectively found over a broad range of ecological zones in the Americas (subtropical and tropical, lowland and premontane). The geographic distribution extends from southern Arizona (U.S.A.) and Coahuila (Mexico) south to northern Peru on the Pacific slope and to Bolivia, northeastern Argentina, and southern Brazil east of the Andes, including Trinidad and Tobago.
Oxybelis are slender, elongate, and narrow-headed arboreal snakes. In Central America, they are very distinctive. Two Amazonian species, Xenoxybelis argenteus and X. boulengeri, were formerly included in this genus. A detailed physical description and more information on several Oxybelis species can be found in Savage (2002).
Vision in Oxybelis is binocular and the eyes are directed forward rather than laterally as in most snakes. From arboreal attack sites, these diurnal snakes feed on a variety of primarily terrestrial prey, including lizards and amphibians. They are reported to sleep coiled individually in vegetation. (Montgomery et al. 2011 and references therein)
Humans bitten by Oxybelis snakes have experienced local effects from the venom delivered by the grooved rear fangs. These snakes should be handled with caution! (Gutiérrez and Sasa 2002)
- Gutiérrez, J.M. and M. Sasa. 2002. Bites and envenomations by colubrid snakes in Mexico and Central America. Journal of Toxicology--Toxin Reviews. 21 (1&2): 105-115.
- Henderson, R. W. 1982. Trophic relationships and foraging strategies of some New World tree snakes (Leptophis, Oxybelis, Uromacer). Amphibia-Reptilia 3: 71–80.
- Henderson, R. W., and M. H. Binder. 1980. The ecology and behavior of vine snakes (Ahaetulla, Oxybelis, Thelotornis,, Uramacer): a review. Milwaukee Public Museum Contributions in Biology and Geology 37: 1–38.
- Montgomery, C.E., K.R. Lips, and J.M. Ray. 2011. Ontogenetic shift in height of sleeping perches of Cope's Vine Snake, Oxybelis brevirostris. The Southwestern Naturalist 56(3):358-36.
- Ray, J. M. 2009. Ecology of a Neotropical arboreal snake assemblage and diet and defensive tactics of New World mollusk-eating snakes. Ph.D. dissertation, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia.
- Savage, J.M. 2002. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
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