New Coffee Snake Species Discovered In EcuadorThe researchers consider Ninia guytudori sp. nov. to be in the Near Threatened category when following the IUCN criteria. Photos by Jose Vieira

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New Coffee Snake Species Discovered In Ecuador

The snake is named in honor of Guy Tudor, a naturalist and scientific illustrator.

The snake is often found in coffee plantations in areas in which its original habitat, cloud forests, have been removed and replaced by the plantations.

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Researchers have discovered a new species of coffee snake of the Colubridae family of snakes. The snake, Ninia guytudori sp. nov, with a proposed name of Tudor’s coffee snake, is similar to N. atrata and N. schmidti and N. teresitae with some radical differences, one being the white lip and neck coloration, and a white bridle and belly that is not “irregularly spotted speckled or obscured by dark pigment,” like other Ninia snakes. Other Ninia snakes, such as N. atrata have a red, orange, or yellow nuchal collar.

The male snakes have an average snout to vent length of 243mm. Females are smaller at 183mm. The snake is largely black in coloration with a hint of a rust color on the tips of the scales. The head of the snake is white in coloration, as if it was dipped in white paint. However, the top of the head, including the eyes, forehead and nostrils are black, lacking any white coloration.

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The snake is often found in coffee plantations in areas in which its original habitat, cloud forests, have been removed and replaced by the plantations. It can be found at elevations between 1,000 and 1,500 meters above sea level on the Pacific side of the Andes Mountains.

N. schmidti, N. guytudori

Lateral views of some specimens of Ninia from western Ecuador in life: (a) N. schmidti comb. nov. SCA 1446 from Buenaventura Reserve, El Oro province; (b) Ninia guytudori sp. nov. from Santa Lucía Cloud Forest Reserve, Pichincha province. Photos by Jose Vieira.

The snake is named in honor of Guy Tudor, a naturalist and scientific illustrator. “The specific epithet guytudori is a patronym honoring Guy Tudor, an all-around naturalist and scientific illustrator with a deep fondness for birds and all animals, in recognition of the impact he has had on the conservation of South America’s birds through his artistry.”


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The researchers consider Ninia guytudori sp. nov. to be in the Near Threatened category when following the IUCN criteria. They cite the species being recorded in more than 10 localities and distributed over an area that still retains more than 53 percent of its forest cover. The researchers write in their paper that although there are no immediate threats to the species, some populations may be in decline due to deforestation due to logging and large scale mining that occurs in several locations in which the snake is known to occur. This includes Imbabura province, where the researchers say there are only two known populations of the species.

The complete paper,”A new species of Ninia (Serpentes, Colubridae) from western Ecuador and revalidation of N. schmidti” can be read on the Evolutionary Systematics website.