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Related to Colubridae: Viperidae, snakes, Elapidae


(vertebrate zoology)
A family of cosmopolitan snakes in the order Squamata.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a family of reptiles of the order Serpentes, or Ophidia. The body measures up to 3Vi m in length. Numerous teeth are situated on the maxillary, dentary, pterygoid, and palatine bones. Some colubrids have grooved poison fangs on the rear portion of the maxillary bone, behind the nonpoisonous teeth. Only the right lung is developed; the left one is absent or rudimentary. The coloring of Colubridae is often variegated, with vivid multicolor markings. There are approximately 300 genera, with 1,500 species widely distributed on all continents except Antarctica. The USSR has 42 species in 15 genera, including Natrix (true water snakes), Coluber, Lycodon, Coronelía (in the USSR a single species, the smooth snake [C. austríaca]), Boiga, Malopon, Telescopus, Psammophis, and Eirenis.

Colubridae may be terrestrial, arboreal, semiaquatic, or aquatic. Large species feed on fish, amphibians, lizards, other snakes, birds and their eggs, and small mammals, while small ones eat various invertebrates, including mollusks and earthworms. The snakes usually suffocate their prey by biting it and then coiling themselves around it, but they sometimes eat it alive. Some Colubridae kill their prey by poison, which they inject by means of enlarged, grooved fangs. The bites of certain species of Colubridae, such as the boomslang, may be fatal to humans. The majority of Colubridae are oviparous, but some are ovoviviparous. The genus Natrix includes approximately 20 species, of which the USSR has two: N. natrix, which has crescent-shaped markings on the head, and N. tessellata.


Terent’ev, P. V., and S. A. Chernov. Opredelitel’ presmykaiushchikhsia i zemnovodnykh, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1949.
Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 4, part 2. Moscow, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Dentro del orden Squamata, la familia Colubridae presento el mayor numero de especies (8), con una amplia distribucion en toda la zona peninsular, seguida de la familia Viperidae (3) y Boidae (2).
Texasophis (Squamata:Colubridae), an extinct,archaic colubrid snake genus, is important in that Texasophis galbreathi from the early Oligocene (Orellan) of eastern Colorado represents one of the first appearances of the huge family Colubridae in North America (Holman l984a).
Habitat use and predatory behavior of Thamnophis cyrtopsis (Serpentes: Colubridae) in a seasonally variable aquatic environment.
The colouration of the venomous coral snakes (family Elapidae) and their mimics (families Aniliidae and Colubridae).
Maximum relative abundance was recorded for family Colubridae (63.53%: N = 331), and minimum for family Boidae (6.53%: N = 34).
De manera general las familias mejor representadas, tomando en cuenta el numero de especies que las constituyen, fueron Colubridae con 13, seguida de Dipsadidae con ocho.