Food habits of Anilius scytale (Serpentes: Aniliidae) in the Brazilian Amazonia

Gleomar F. Maschio, Ana L. da C. Prudente, Francílio da S. Rodrigues, Marinus S. Hoogmoed

Abstract


Information on the diet of Anilius scytale is provided based on the analysis of 162 specimens from the Brazilian Amazonia. Amphisbaenians (Aulura anomala Barbour, 1914; Leposternon polystegumn [Duméril, 1951] and Amphisbaena sp.), which are highly specialized for a fossorial life, accounted for 81.25% of the recorded items, followed by snakes – Anilius scytale (Linnaeus, 1758), and Tantilla melanocephala (Linnaeus, 1758): 12.5% – and caecilians – Caecilia cf. gracilis Shaw, 1802: 6.25%. We found a positive, although not significant, relationship between the snout-vent length of A. scytale and the total length of the prey and a tendency for smaller specimens to ingest proportionately larger prey. Anilius scytale forages mainly on the ground, at night, as well as in aquatic environments. The non-selective capture of either proportionately large or small prey by A. scytale may reflect the opportunistic nature of the encounters. A tendency of the juveniles of this species to ingest proportionately larger prey may be associated with either a low availability of prey with a size compatible to that of the juveniles, or with their inexperience in selecting prey. Ingestion of prey headfirst may be an attempt to minimize the risk of injury the prey could cause through their rigid, pointed and sharp structures or powerful bites.
KEY WORDS. Basal snakes; diet.

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