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Atractaspididae


The Atractaspididae are a family of snakes found in Africa and the Middle East, commonly called mole vipers, stiletto snakes, or burrowing asps. Currently, 12 genera are recognized.[1]

Description[edit]

This family includes many genera formerly classed in other families, on the basis of fang type. It includes fangless (aglyphous), rear-fanged (opisthoglyphous), fixed-fanged (proteroglyphous), and viper-like (solenoglyphous) species. Molecular and physiological data linking this family to others are ambiguous and often contradictory, which means the taxonomy of this family is highly contentious. The nominate family, Atractaspididae, has itself been moved to and from other taxa, reinforcing the ambiguity of this family.

Geographic range[edit]

This family is found in Africa and the Middle East.[2][3][4]

Venom[edit]

Most of these snakes are inoffensive or far too small to envenomate a person effectively. However, some can inflict severe tissue necrosis; e.g. if the victim's thumb is bitten, the tip of that digit may be lost. Relapses may occur long after the bite. [5][6]

Very few deaths have resulted from accidents with these snakes, although large individuals of Atractaspis microlepidota and a few other long-glanded species are very likely to be dangerous.[7] Some of the long-fanged species are able to stab their prey (or an unfortunate human) even while their mouths are closed, and the typical grasp used by herpetologists to securely hold venomous snakes is not necessarily safe for this group.[8][9] This ability to stab sideways even with a closed mouth is the basis for an English name used for some of them - side-stabbing snakes.[3]

Genera[edit]

Family Atractaspididae -- 13 Genera
Genus[1]Taxon author[1]Species
Count[1]
Common nameGeographic range
AmblyodipsasPeters, 18579Glossy snakesAfrica
AparallactusA. Smith, 184911Centipede-eatersAfrica
AtractaspisA. Smith, 184915Burrowing asps, stiletto snakes[1]Africa, Middle-East
BrachyophisMocquard, 18881Revoil's short snakeAfrica
ChilorhinophisWerner, 19073Two-headed snakesAfrica
ElapotinusJan, 18621Jan's snakeAfrica
HypoptophisBoulenger, 19081African bighead snakeAfrica
Homoroselaps[10]?Welch 19942Harlequin snakesSouthern Africa
MacrelapsBoulenger, 18961Natal black snakeAfrica
MicrelapsBoettger, 18805Two-headed snakesAfrica, Middle-East
PoecilopholisBoulenger, 19031Cameroon racerAfrica
PolemonJan, 185813Snake-eatersAfrica
XenocalamusGünther, 18685Quill-snouted snakesAfrica

Taxonomy[edit]

This family was previously classified as a subfamily of the Colubridae: the Aparallactinae.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Atractaspididae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 17 August 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  3. ^ a b Spawls S, Branch B. 1995. The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Ralph Curtis Books. Dubai: Oriental Press. 192 pp. ISBN 0-88359-029-8.
  4. ^ Parker HW, Grandison AGC. 1977. Snakes -- a natural history. Second Edition. British Museum (Natural History) and Cornell University Press. 108 pp. 16 plates. LCCCN 76-54625. ISBN 0-8014-1095-9 (cloth), ISBN 0-8014-9164-9 (paper).
  5. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p31K9gfBev8&feature=related
  6. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSx1fiLVxLs
  7. ^ Atractaspididae at the TIGR Reptile Database
  8. ^ Kurnik Haviv and Kochva (1999). A snake bite by the burrowing asp, Atractaspis engaddensis. Toxicon 37(1): 223-227.
  9. ^ Deufel and Cundall (2003). Feeding in Atractaspis (Serpentes: Atractaspididae): a study in conflicting functional constraints. Zoology 106: 43-61.
  10. ^ http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/advanced_search?taxon=Atractaspidinae&submit=Search
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List of atractaspidid species and subspecies

This is a list of all genera, species and subspecies of the family Atractaspididae,[1] otherwise referred to as African burrowing asps, stiletto snakes, or atractaspidids. It follows the taxonomy currently provided by ITIS, which is based on the continuing work of Dr. Roy McDiarmid.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Atractaspididae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 22 September 2007. 
  2. ^ 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).
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