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a group of snakes of the family Colubridae, sometimes classified with the subfamily Boiginae. Body length, 50 cm-3 m. Large grooved venom-conducting fangs are located in the rear upper jaw. (Grouped with some other snakes, they are often called opisthoglyphs.)
There are approximately 70 genera (over 300 species), widespread on all the continents but concentrated in the tropics and subtropics. The poison glands are weakly developed, and the bite is usually fatal only to small animals. There have been a few cases of human beings dying from bites of the African boomslang (Dispholidus typus), which lives in South Africa. Humans can also be poisoned by bites of African arboreal snakes of the genus Thelotornis and some other species.
Most colubrids lay eggs, but many species are ovoviviparous. The six species found in the USSR are harmless to man: Taphrometoron lineolatus, a species of Psammophis, Boiga trigona-tum, Malpolon monspessulanus, and two species of Telescopus.