[kol-uh-brid, -yuh-]

A colubrid (from Latin coluber, snake) is a snake that is a member of the Colubridae family. It is a broad classification of snakes that includes well over half of all snake species on earth. Colubrid species are found on every continent, except Antarctica.

A colubrid's body is almost completely covered in scales. They have highly flexible jaws, allowing them to consume large prey items, and have no remnant of a pelvic girdle.

While most colubrids are non-venomous (or have venom that isn't known to be harmful to humans) and are normally harmless, a few groups, such as genus Boiga, can produce medically significant bites, while the boomslang and the twig snakes have caused human fatalities. The venom is a modified form of saliva, secreted by glands in the upper jaw.

The venom-injecting fangs associated with venomous colubrids are almost always in the back of the mouth, unlike those of vipers and elapids. Even non-venomous colubrids often have fangs in this position, and use them to puncture egg-shells or similar food.

Selected species


The Colubrids are certainly not a natural group, as many are more closely related to other groups, such as elapids, than to each other. This family has classically been a dumping ground for snakes that don't fit anywhere else. There is on-going mitochondrial DNA research which may sort out the familial relations within this group.

Subfamily Boodontinae

Subfamily Calamariinae

Subfamily Colubrinae - nearly 100 genera

Subfamily Dipsadinae

Subfamily Homalopsinae - about 10 genera

Subfamily Natricinae - about 30 genera

Subfamily Pareatinae - 3 genera

Subfamily Psammophiinae

Subfamily Pseudoxenodontinae

Subfamily Pseudoxyrhophiinae - about 20 genera

Subfamily Xenodermatinae

Subfamily Xenodontinae - some 55-60 genera

incertae sedis


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