The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

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pdf 06. Diet of the false smooth snake, Macroprotodon cucullatus (Serpentes, Colubridae) in the Western Mediterranean area


Open Access


Authors: Juan M. Pleguezuelos, Santiago Honrubia And Silvana Castillo

Abstract: Based on the analysis of the digestive tracts of 158 specimens, the diet has been established for Macroprotodon cucullatus, one of the European colubrid species with poorly-known biology. The specimens belong to three subspecies, M. c. ibericus (Iberian Peninsula), M. c. brevis (Morocco) and M. c. mauritanicus (Balearic Islands). The species feeds exclusively on vertebrates, mainly reptiles, and mostly long-bodied prey which are burrowers or live under rocks (Blanus, Chalcides). Some aspects of its morphology and feeding habits, in addition to our general field observations, suggest that it is not nocturnal, but rather lives under rocks. Jn comparison with other Mediterranean colubrids, this species feeds with very low frequency, taking relatively long prey with great biomass. In the specimens from the Balearic Islands the body length and feeding habits appear to have changed in a brief period, now being the largest of the distribution area of the species and basing its diet on small mammals. In the Iberian Peninsula and in northwestern Africa, there is no appreciable ontogenetic or sexual variation in the diet, since the different ages and sexes feed principally on amppisbaenians.

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Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

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