Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the March 18, 2006 Newsletter written at Hacienda San Juan Lizárraga one kilometer east of Telchac Pueblo, Yucatán, MÉXICO and issued from Hotel Reef Yucatan 13 kms to the north

Schmidt's Striped Snake, Coniophanes schmidti, photo by Ashley Smith, near Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico
photo courtesy of Ashley Smith of near Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico, taken September, 2013


Schmidt's Striped Snake, Coniophanes schmidti

Roberto the gardener, while cleaning up a weed-overgrown junk pile, ran into yet another snake species I hadn't yet seen. This one was like a brownish garter snake, with narrow lines running the body's length. It was a Schmidt's Striped Snake, CONIOPHANES SCHMIDTI, and that's it in the picture above.

Schmidt's Striped Snakes are distributed from here, the northern Yucatan, south into Guatemala and Belize, so their distribution area is much smaller than the former species'. The species feeds on lizards and frogs.

I'm even more pleased to post this snake's picture because a debate among specialists is going on as to whether this is a distinct species or just a subspecies of the more generally distributed Cope's Striped Snake, Coniophanes piceivitis. Maybe this picture and geographic note will help clarify matters.

What a pleasure to feel like I might be contributing to the understanding of these species. This is the traveling naturalist's dream.

from the July 27, 2018 Newsletter issued from Rancho Regenesis in the woods ±4kms west of Ek Balam Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

Back when the above pictures were taken I didn't have a camera with close-up capabilities, so last weekend along the road to the frutería in Temozón I had mixed feelings about seeing the species as roadkill, though in not too bad a condition. Below, you can see him looking somewhat alive:

Schmidt's Striped Snake, Coniophanes schmidti, on road

Several species found in our general area are assigned to the genus Conophis, to which this species belongs. Since the species are somewhat similar and their taxonomy isn't well worked out, I wanted a good shot of this snake's facial scales, for scale number, shape and configuration are much used in snake identification. A side view of this snake's head is shown below:

Schmidt's Striped Snake, Coniophanes schmidti, head side view

The head, nicely showing the reddish brown atop the head, which is a good field mark, appears below:

Schmidt's Striped Snake, Coniophanes schmidti, top of head

Schmidt's Striped Snakes are described as terrestrial, nocturnal snakes with fangs at the back of their mouths instead of up front. They inhabit moist and dry forests, and I read that they're not encountered in urban or agricultural areas, and are associated with water bodies, though this one was not far from a cornfield, and I don't think there was a standing body of water within a kilometer of there. Some of the fields are sometimes irrigated with sprinkled water, though, so maybe that's wet enough.