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Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências

versão impressa ISSN 0001-3765versão On-line ISSN 1678-2690

An. Acad. Bras. Ciênc. vol.90 no.3 Rio de Janeiro jul./set. 2018 

Biological Sciences

New records of the rare Troschel’s Pampas Snake, Phimophis guianensis (Serpentes: Dipsadidae) in Brazil







1Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Laboratório de Vertebrados, Avenida Itália, Km 8, Vila Carreiros, 96203-900 Rio Grande, RS, Brazil

2Instituto Butantan, Laboratório Especial de Coleções Zoológicas, Avenida Vital Brasil, 1500, Butantã, 05503-900 São Paulo, SP, Brazil

3Faculdade Cathedral de Ensino Superior, Laboratório de Zoologia Aplicada de Vertebrados Terrestres e Aquáticos, Avenida Luis Canuto Chaves, 293, Caçari, 69307-655 Boa Vista, RR, Brazil


The Troschel’s Pampas Snake, Phimophis guianensis (Troschel, 1848), is widely distributed in Amazonian Savannas at northern South America and a small portion of southern Central America, being recorded to Brazil based on three historical records, that ranged from 1997 to 2002, in Amapá and Pará states. In this study, we revise all known records of P. guianensis, providing an updated distribution map, and the first record to Roraima state.

Key words Amazonian Savannah; Roraima; distribution gap; Squamata; Pseudoboini


Amazonian Savannas are sparsely distributed and fragmented across northern South America, being characterized by a unique phytophysiognomy of arbustive and grassland plant species, that contrast with the tall-canopy tropical rainforest that encircle it (Eiten 1978, França et al. 2006, Carvalho et al. 2016). It has also been suggested that these grassland enclaves within the Amazon forest constitute relictual portions of a once wide savanna formation, that encompassed most of northern South America, southwards to central Brazil, and rose during the Pleistocene epoch, as the outcome of glacial periods (Eden 1974, Ab’Sáber 1982, Bigarella and Andrade-Lima 1982, Huber 1982, França et al. 2006). These areas usually present poorly diverse, although highly endemic reptile communities, that have been seldom studied (Ávila-Pires 1995, Vitt and Carvalho 1995, Colli 1996, França et al. 2006).

Phimophis Cope 1860 is a Pseudoboini genus that encompasses three species, Phimophis guerini (Duméril, Bibron, and Duméril 1854), Phimophis guianensis (Troschel 1848) and Phimophis vittatus (Boulenger 1896), distributed from Central America, in Panama, to South America, in Argentina and southern Brazil (Peters et al. 1970, Uetz et al. 2017). These are terrestrial or fossorial, nocturnal, small to medium sized snakes, that prey upon lizards, amphibians and rodents (Yanosky et al. 1996, Sawaya et al. 2008, González-Carcacía et al. 2012).

The Troschel’s Pampas Snake, Phimophis guianensis (Troschel 1848), has been recorded from Panamá, in Central America, to Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, French Guyana, and Brazil (Troschel 1848, Dunn 1944, Hoogmoed 1982, Lancini and Kornacker 1989, Frota et al. 2005, França et al. 2006, Cole et al. 2013, Blanco-Torres et al. 2013). Phimophis guianensis was first recorded in Brazil based on three specimens from Amazonian Savanna areas at Amapá and Pará states, in northern Brazil, that ranged from a timespan of 1997 to 2002 (Frota et al. 2005 and França et al. 2006). Herein, we provide new records of this species at Brazilian territory.


While conducting fieldwork in the municipality of Cantá (2.2000N, -60.4833W, DATUM WGS 84), Roraima State, Brazil (Figure 1), on 28 April 2017, at 22:25 hours, the authors encountered two individuals of P. guianensis, shortly apart from each other, at the Km 16 of the BR-401. Identification follows Starace (1998) and Mumaw et al. (2015). Tissue samples were deposited in 90% ethanol, and individuals were fixated in a solution of 10% formalin, then preserved in 75% ethanol, and deposited in the herpetological collection of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande (Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) under the voucher CHFURG 5888 and CHFURG 5889. Measurements were taken with a flexible ruler or a dial caliper. SVL refers to “snout-vent length”, TL to “tail length”, HL to “head length”, and HW to “head width”.

Figure 1 Distribution of Phimophis guianensis (Triangle: new records; Crosses: literature records). 


The specimen CHFURG 5889 is a subadult male (Fig. 2a), that presents 350 mm snout-vent length, 120 mm tail length, 10.5 mm head length and 8.9 mm head width. Scale counts are 164 ventrals, 56 paired subcaudals, divided nasal scale, 8/8 supralabials, 7/8 infralabials, 2+3/2+3 temporals, 1 preocular and 1+1 postoculars. Specimen CHFURG 5888 is a subadult male (Fig. 2b), that presents 335 mm snout-vent length, 80 mm tail length, 9.2 mm head length, 7.4 mm head width. Scale counts are 169 ventrals, 56 paired subcaudals, divided nasal scale, 8/8 supralabials, 8/9 infralabials, 1+1 fused temporals,1 preocular and 1+1 postoculars.

Figure 2 Phimophis guianensis individuals found in the municipality of Cantá, Roraima. 

In life, both individuals presented a white supralabial and gular region, with a a black stripe that extended 14 dorsal scale rows from the head, with grey scale margins on the head surface; dorsal coloration composed of a irregular black pattern, over an orange background, with a white dorsolateral surface. Ventral coloration immaculate white on both specimens.


Phimophis guianensis (Troschel 1848) was first recorded to Brazil by Frota et al. (2005), based on a specimen from Monte Alegre (CHUNB 33929), Pará state, northern Brazil. França et al. (2006), seemingly unaware of the work of Frota et al. (2005), presented three new individuals for Amapá (CHUNB 03824-5, locality given as “Amapá, 22.vii.1997”; CHUNB 33929, locality given as “Tartarugalzinho, 02.v.1997”), claiming these, erroneously, as the first record to Brazil of the species. Since then, no new records arose from highly sampled areas (e.g. Thomas 1976, Cunha and Nascimento 1980, 1993, Hoogmoed 1982, Cunha et al. 1985, Vanzolini 1986, Zaher 1996, Vanzolini and Calleffo 2002), and this species has been only known based on specimens from outside Brazil (Table I), which corroborates the hypothesis that this species might be rare in Brazil (França et al. 2006). The individuals from Cantá here described represent new records to Brazil, filling a distribution gap of approximately 140 km southward from the record of Pirara, Sabana, Guyana, and 882 km northward from the record of Monte Alegre, Pará, Brazil, and the first record of the species to Roraima state. These specimens also fit the literature diagnosis of the species (Troschel 1848, Starace 1998, Gaiarsa et al. 2013, Mumaw et al. 2015).

TABLE I Geographic distribution of Phimophis guianensis

Country State/departament Municipality/locality Latitude Longitude Source
Brazil Amapá Amapá 00º58’ N 52º00’ W França et al. (2006)
Brazil Amapá Tartarugalzinho 01º31’ N 50º54’ W França et al. (2006)
Brazil Pará Monte Alegre 01º57’ S 54º03’ W Frota et al. (2005), França et al. (2006)
Brazil Roraima Cantá 02º12’ N 60º28’ W New record
Colombia La Guajira Cerrejón 11º03’ N 72º40’ W Blanco-Torres et al. (2013)
Colombia La Guajira Palomino 10º58’ N 72º45’ W Blanco-Torres et al. (2013)
Colombia La Guajira Río Ranchería 11º07’ N 72º36’ W Blanco-Torres et al. (2013)
Colombia Atlántico Puerto Colombia 11º00’ N 74º57’ W Dugand and Toloza (1975)
Guiana Demerara-Mahaica Ceiba Biological Station, Madewini River 06º29’ N 58º13’ W Cole et al. (2013)
Guiana Alto Demerara–Berbice Dubulay Ranch 05º38’ N 57º59’ W Cole et al. (2013)
Guiana Pirara Sabana 03º37’ N 59º40’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
French Guiana Mana - 05º41’ N 53º52’ W Starace (1998)
French Guiana Roura - 04º38’ N 52º13’ W Starace (1998)
French Guiana Cayenne Caiena 04º55’ N 52º29’ W Chippaux (1986), França et al. (2006)
French Guiana Cayenne Sinnamary 05º20’ N 52º56’ W Chippaux (1986), França et al. (2006)
Panama Panamá - 08º37’ N 80º46’ W Ray and Ruback (2015)
Panama Panamá Oeste - 08º48’ N 80º00’ W Ray and Ruback (2015)
Venezuela Amazonas - 05º43’ N 67º37’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Anzoátegui - 08º37’ N 63º57’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Apure - 07º00’ N 68º32’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Aragua - 10º15’ N 67º16’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Bolívar - 10º19’ N 67º25’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Carabobo - 10º07’ N 68º2’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Distrito Capital - 10º28’ N 66º54’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Falcón - 11º13’ N 69º52’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Guárico - 08º47’ N 66º14’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Lara - 10º10’ N 69º52’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Mérida - 08º34’ N 71º10’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Miranda - 10º16’ N 66º25’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Monagas - 09º19’ N 63º0’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Nueva Esparta - 11º00’ N 63º54’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Portuguesa - 09º06’ N 69º05’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Sucre - 10º25’ N 63º17’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Trujillo - 09º21’ N 70º26’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Vargas - 10º35’ N 66º44’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Zulia - 10º00’ N 72º31’ W Mumaw et al. (2015)
Venezuela Barinas Barinas 08º37’ N 70º14’ W Barrio-Amorós and Ortiz (2015)
Venezuela Zulia Jardin Botânico de Maracaíbo, San Francisco 10º35’ N 71º42’ W Larreal et al. (2012)
Venezuela Lara Parque Nacional Cerro Saroche 10º31’ N 69º37’ W Suárez et al. (2013)
Venezuela Apure Paez 07º14’ N 71º22’ W Infante-Rivero (2009)

Roraima state is located in the northern portion of the Brazilian Amazon, presenting an area of 224.299 km² (Barbosa and Lima 2008, Carvalho et al. 2016), of which nearly 20% is composed of savannas (Flores 2014), being these savannas largely composed of “lavrado” (Morais and Carvalho 2016). The Lavrado is an ecorregion of open vegetation, covering approximately 43.281 km² (De Carvalho and De Carvalho 2012, Carvalho et al. 2016). The municipality of Cantá presents 10.48% of its territory over lavrado areas (Morais and Carvalho 2016).

Little is known about the biodiversity of the lavrado, since these areas have been scarcely sampled in the past (Barbosa and Ferreira 2004, Flores 2014). The lavrado also lacks a specific protection within conservation units, also suffering a large anthropic pression, harboring most of the state population (Campos et al. 2008, Flores 2014). Given these circumstances, large impacts could interfere in the faunal conservation of these areas, highlighting the importance of faunal samplings and directed conservation efforts to these areas.


The authors thank Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for a financial aid (PIBIC Grant, 136628/2016-8), Editor Igor Luis Kaefer and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions to our manuscript.


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Received: February 7, 2018; Accepted: April 10, 2018

Correspondence to: Omar Machado Entiauspe-Neto E-mail:

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