As dusk arrived, I spotted this small vine snake, Imantodes cenchoa, descending a large tree. This species is chiefly arboreal, so seeing one near the ground was sheer luck.
A small snake, the head shown here is only 5mm wide. Overall I estimated this one to be less than a meter long, although they can grow to a bit more than that.
The head is much wider than the body. Thin as it may be, it can swallow prey ten times the width of its body. Nocturnal, these snakes hunt sleeping lizards, particularly anoles.
Also notable in this and related species are the scales along the middle of the back. These scales are many times wider than scales in adjacent rows. There’s a similar species, Imantodes gemmistratus, but its mid-dorsal scales aren’t quite as wide.
With highly adapted skeletal and muscular structure, they have the ability to extend out up to half of their body. As shown here, they can reach out to nearby perches.
Though possessing rear fangs with a weak venom, they rely on camouflage for defense. This one froze in place as soon as it became aware of my presence.
by Twan Leenders