Thanks to the geographical location and geological past, the neo-tropics are home to a wide diversity of reptiles and amphibians, amongst the richest in the world. Ecuador is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist destinations for Herpetological travel.
We have, as such, excellent news for all lovers of herping tours, and especially for enthusiasts of venomous snakes. Following the publication of the “Guide for identification of reptiles and amphibians in the Mindo region”, a new specialized book has been published on 15 July 2016.
“Venomous snakes of Ecuador” by Jorge H. Valencia, Kama Garzón-Tello and María Elena Barragán is the brand new book of the Foundation Herpetological Gustavo Orces (link), in collaboration with the University of Texas of Arlington, the Vivarium of Quito (link) and Ecofondo (link). The photographs are the work of the very famous Pete Oxford (link).
This very comprehensive book deals with systematics, taxonomy, natural history, conservation but also some anthropological aspects related to snakes.
For several years, new genetic methods have revolutionized science and in particular taxonomy (the science of classifying species). Herpetology did not escape these major changes. Families and genera from all over the world have undergone alterations, changes, or splits. So many “barbaric” terms have made it difficult to make the correct identification of certain specimens a few times.
Fortunately, the 653 pages of this magnificent book give the latest taxonomic classification references to avoid errors at the time of coming across these surprisingly rare and unsung animals.
All this information is the result of long and often difficult scientific expeditions in Ecuador, but also of incessant visits to museums and reference collections in Ecuador, the United States and Europe (more than 38 in total). They have made considerable progress in the morphological but also molecular descriptions of a large number of families.
This was followed by a readjustment of the phylogeny of this group, and this work will allow the reader to chronologically follow the exclusion and synonymy of certain species needed in order to update this knowledge.
All the poisonous snake species of Ecuador are well described. But the book also adds details about the morphology of the hemipenis and the variations of patterns of colouration. Of course, many other aspects of reptiles are mentioned as well like their natural history, ethology, feeding habits and reproduction and the relationships between species. So many themes that allow you to better understand these unusual reptiles.
The book also includes a paragraph on aposematism and imitation strategies, including batesian mimicry in particular. This strategy, stemming from a long period of evolution, has allowed some species of Colubrids (non-venomous snakes) to possess colour patterns identical to those of poisonous species. These harmless imitators therefore deceive their predators on their harmfulness by pretending to be poisonous! A paragraph of importance also noted the Protocols of pre-hospital treatment in the case of Ophidians bites in Ecuador.
If you are interested in this book, in order to help you to develop your knowledge of Ecuadorian reptiles or to prepare your next herpetological tour in the neo-tropics, do not hesitate to contact us or the Foundation Herpetological Gustavo Orces.
It goes without saying that our renowned herpetologists guides and specialized naturalist guides will not fail to consult this indispensable tool during our travels herpetological in Ecuador. For more information visit our website and the heading “Herpetological Tours in Ecuador”