You are not currently logged in.
Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:
If You Use a Screen ReaderThis content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Arboreality in Snakes: Ecology of the Australian Elapid Genus Hoplocephalus
Vol. 1983, No. 1 (Feb. 10, 1983), pp. 198-205
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1444714
Page Count: 8
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Preview not available
Broad-headed snakes (Hoplocephalus spp.) are unusual among Australian elapids in being arboreal. Dissection of 332 specimens provided data on body sizes, sexual size dimorphism, food habits, reproductive cycles, fecundities and probable growth rates. Females grow larger than males in all three Hoplocephalus species. H. bitorquatus feeds mainly on arboreal pelodryadid frogs, H. bungaroides on lizards, and H. stephensi on lizards, mice and frogs. All species are viviparous, with ovulation occurring in late spring and birth in late summer. Young at birth are large (SVL 20 cm) relative to maternal size (SVL 50 to 70 cm), and litters are small (usually 4 to 6 young). Size-frequency distributions suggest sexual maturation at 3 to 4 years of age in H. bitorquatus. Most adult female Hoplocephalus reproduce only once every two years, or less often. Compilation of published data on snake faunas of several continents reveals that a) food habits of arboreal and terrestrial snakes usually are similar; b) arboreality is more common in some taxonomic groups (e.g. colubrids) than in others (e.g. elapids); and c) the proportion of arboreal species in a snake fauna is highly correlated with annual precipitation. These findings may explain why arboreality is rare in Australian snakes.