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Old 01-25-04, 12:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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diffrence between colubrids, boas, pythons....etc...

What makes a boa a boa, a python a python, a colubrid a colubrid?
Besides scale count.

The only differences I see is some live in trees some like to live in water, some like humid areas etc...etc...basicly all the differences I see is husbandry care and body shape.

So what makes a snake what they are called?
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Old 01-25-04, 12:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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A Generalization (hallmark differences):
Boas: Ovoviviparous
Pythons: Oviparous
Boas and Pythons are subfamilies of Boidae.
Colubrids: A large grouping of snakes that aren't boas, pythons, vipers, elapids, hydrophiids, leptotyphlopids, etc, etc. Colubrids are generally oviparous but there are exceptions.
There are many more differences and some animals will overlap and add to the confusion, taxonomy is rarely cut-and-dry.
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Old 01-25-04, 07:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Boas and pythons are the oldest snakes. They have pelvic bones, spurs that suses to be legs and two functioning lungs. New snkaes don't have any of that.
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Old 01-25-04, 08:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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and new snakes are colubrids? Where do the tree dwellers and venomous snakes fit? What about the non rodent eating snakes? Is there a difference with them?
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Old 01-25-04, 09:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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There are non-rodent eating snakes in all categories. There are also many venomous and arboreal colubrids, so diet or habitat are irrelevant.
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Old 01-25-04, 09:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Ok...I think I'm starting to understand. But what are the "newer" snakes?
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Old 01-25-04, 10:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Sapphire moon,

When it comes to taxonomy, you have to forget about tree dwellers vs. ground dwellers, rodent eaters or not, etc. Species, genera, families, etc. have usually been differentiated on the basis of morphology (body features, such as presence of labial pits for the pit vipers). Much of early taxonomy (and lots of todays) was done in museums, where all that they had to work with were preserved specimens. They couldn't take into account behaviour, environment, etc. More recently, a lot of interesting work has been done through genetics, which has shown that some things we thought were closely related due to similar body structures are not, and the opposite is also true.

So, things that can separate taxonomic groups may not even be visible to you- it could be genetic, or it could be something like the number of vertebrae! However, when you are in the middle and upper levels of taxonomy (say Family up to Kingdom) most differences are relatively major and noticeable.

To expand on what Ryan was saying,

Family Boidae (note: some authors break this into Boidae and Pythonidae, others consider these two to be subfamilies): thought be to evolutionarily primitive snakes (not necessarily old!) with pelvic girdles and spurs, left and right lungs (though not all of them have both functioning), according to a text book I dug out, "premaxilla-maxilla articulation, premaxillary, maxillary, and palatine teeth, a coronoid element in the mandible, hypophyses on anterior trunk vertebrae, and ovoviviparity." Translation- jaw function, particular teeth, backbone shape, and live bearing. I definitely wouldn't have remembered all those! Realize that there are often exceptions to the rules of taxonomy- things that fit neatly into one category except for one characteristic which clearly doesn't. Typcially boids are found in the 'new world', North & South America.

Pythonidae: Typically found in the 'old world', Africa, Asia, and Australia. Similar to the boids, but different in skull structure, and they have paired subcaudal scales (yes, scale counts are important). All are oviparous (egg laying).

Viperidae: Venomous with hinged front fangs, plus a lot of other teeth and jaw differences.

Elapidae: Venomous fixed front fangs, plus teeth and jaw differences to go with them.

Colubridae: Snakes that don't fit into any of the other families. Some may be venomous but don't have front fangs like the others. Where present 'fangs' of any kind are grooved instead of being hollow. This is by far the largest family of snakes, and is considered to be of recent origin in the evolutionary sense. It is still an 'old' enough group to have fossils.

There are also about 10 small, obscure families, such as Atractaspididae, with only one genus, the burrowing asps, and Xenopeltidae- the sunbeam snake, which is sometimes seen in the pet trade.

I hope this clarifies things! Taxonomy is not always easy to understand, nor to keep up with, since it is always changing as new techniques are applied and new discoveries are made.

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Old 01-25-04, 11:11 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Ok, you said the burrowing (I'm not sure what asps means).

What about the western hognose. I know that it is all controversial and such, But what would they be classified as?
Since they are rear fanged but are not classified as venomous, but instead I have heard people say they have "toxic saliva" not "venom". I also noticed that their heads are pretty big, but kind of flat and triangular (if you don't account for the upturned nose)......Are their teeth "fangs" (anything that has sharp pointy teeth are fangs to me! lol) hinged or fixed?

I am sorry to be bothering people with these questions. But as I've been yelling about for the past 1 -2 days I just got a western hognose, and would like to know the difference between it, my corn snake and my 2 BP's......
I would really like to know more about the western because it is such a "controversial" topic with these people saying one thing and another group saying another.......
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Old 01-25-04, 11:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Well, most of the differences have all been alluded to already, so I will give you a quick taxonomy lesson of the class Squamata, specifically Serpentes [keep in mind that I gleaned this information from one of my texts which is about 3 years old (plenty of time for taxonomists to change everything)]:
Serpentes is a suborder of the order Caudata.
There are three superfamilies in the classification Serpentes; namely, Typhlopoidea (Scolecophidia), Henophidia (Boidea), and Xenophidia (Colubroidea = Caenophidia).
There are then three families in the superfamily Typhlopoidea (Scolecophidia) and they are: Anomalepidae, Typhlopidae, and Leptotyphlopidae/Glauconiidae (dawn blind snakes, blind snakes, and slender blind snakes, respectively).
There are then ten families in the superfamily Henophidia (Boidea) and they are: Aniliidae/Ilysiidae, Anomochilidae, Boidae, Bolyeridae, Cylindrophiidae, Loxocemidae, Tropidophiidae, Uropeltidae, and Xenopeltidae.
Finally, there are six families in the superfamily Xenophidia and they are: Acrochordidae, Atractaspididae, Colubridae, Elapidae, Hydrophiidae, and Viperidae.
So, your corn snake and hognose are both in the Colubridae family. However, your Corn snake is in the genus Elaphe and your hognose is in the genus Heterodon. You can see that these two animals are more closely related to the vipers and the elapids than the boas and pythons. Your ball python is not only in a different family than your corn snake and hognose, but it is also in a different superfamily. These animals are more distantly related on a phylogenetic tree.
Animals in the genus Heterodon have fixed teeth and the "venom" delivery mechanism differs from that of the vipers and elapids I believe, BGF can likely correct me if I am wrong but I believe the toxin is delivered through a groove in the teeth. The venom of the hognose is a true venom, however it is primarily rich in enzymes and neurotoxins are only present in low concentrations. Apparently, venom evolved only once in advanced snake evolution and it was very early on. Heterodon do not have "toxic saliva", it is a proper venom.
Hope this helps,
R
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Old 01-25-04, 12:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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yes, I will have to read it a few more times. and I can't even begin to pronounce those names....but yes it did help....

So this True venom. Is it harmful to people? Or is it only harmful if you are allergic to bee's (I seen on another website a pic of a kids finger that had been bit by a western hognose and the kid was allergic to bee's, and the finger was swollen, the swelling went down after a few hours though)

I read somewhere about the grove, but I forgot to mention it. lol. Now do they use the venom to kill or to subdue?
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Old 01-25-04, 12:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jeff Hathaway
[B]Family Boidae (note: some authors break this into Boidae and Pythonidae, others consider these two to be subfamilies):
It's interesting to note that the CITES website does list Pythonidae as its own family. If you search for Boidae, you will only get boas. So, as far as international trade is concerned, they are completely different.

Just thought I'd throw that in.
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Old 01-25-04, 12:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Since the venom is rich in enzymes (proteins arranged in quaternary structure), being bitten would likely only cause localised swelling (a histamine reaction to a foreign protein in the system). There is likely no correlation between bee allergies and a sensitivity to hognose venom; however, if you have an overactive immune system then there may appear to be a relationship between the two reactions (although a bite from a human would likely elicit the same response).
It is entirely possible that the venom is harmful to humans, but it depends on the individual's physiology. Generally, it would only be a small percentage of people who would be at risk but since the venom is rich in enzymes, a person could die of anaphylactic shock. The venom is produced in very small amounts so it is unlikely to cause much harm to humans but it may be enough to subdue a toad and slow it down while being ingested.
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Old 01-25-04, 12:42 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Thanks invictus. that will help if I ever decide to buy anything from canada and have it shipped.

Ok RMBolton, just when I was going to say "thanks for all the info" you had to go and say something like anaphylactic shock......lol......
ok can you explain what that is?
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Old 01-25-04, 01:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Anaphylaxis (something I have to be keenly aware of with my allergies), is when the throat swells, causing asphyxiation (suffocation). It's the most extreme of allergic reactions.

This is what I have to be concerned about with my bee / wasp / mosquito allergy. For this reason, I do not handle scorps, tarantulas, or anything with a potential for venom, because I do have an overactive immune system.
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Old 01-25-04, 01:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
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ohhhhhhh, thanks for explaining!

Ok big thanks to everyone that helped explain this for me!
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