Coluber caspius
Physical description
Binomial nameElseya albagula
Conservational Status
IUCN statusIUCN 3.1
Scientific classification
Distribution of speciesworldwide

A colubrid (from Latin coluber, snake) is a member of the snake family Colubridae. This broad classification of snakes includes about two-thirds of all snake species on earth. Colubrid species are found on every continent except Antarctica.[1]


While most colubrids are nonvenomous (or have venom that is not known to be harmful to humans) and are mostly harmless, a few groups, such as genus Boiga, can produce medically significant bites, while the boomslang, the twig snakes and the Asian genus Rhabdophis have caused human fatalities.[1][2]

Some colubrids are described as opisthoglyphous, meaning they have elongated, grooved teeth located in the back of the upper jaw. The opisthoglyphous dentition appears at least two times in the history of snakes.[2] These are unlike those of vipers and elapids, which are located in the front.[1][2]


The Colubridae are not a natural or monophyletic group, as many are more closely related to other groups, such as elapids, than to each other.[3] This family has classically been a garbage bin taxon for snakes that do not fit elsewhere.[4] Ongoing research, hopefully, will sort out the 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 - three genera

Subfamily Psammophiinae

Subfamily Pseudoxenodontinae

Subfamily Pseudoxyrhophiinae - about 20 genera

Subfamily Xenodermatinae

Subfamily Xenodontinae - some 55-60 genera

incertae sedis


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Cogger, H.G. & Zweifel, R.G. (ed's) Bauer, Aaron M. 1998. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Academic Press. San Diego. pp188–195
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bruna Azara, C. 1995. Animales venenosos. Vertebrados terrestres venenosos peligrosos para el ser humano en España. Bol. SEA, 11: 32-40
  3. Lawson, R; Slowinski, J.B.; Crother, B.I.; Burbrink, F.T. 2005. Phylogeny of the Colubroidea (Serpentes): New evidence from mitochondrial and nuclear genes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 37:581–601
  4. Fry, B.G.; Vidal, N.; van der Weerd, L.; Kochva, E.; Renjifo, C. 2009. Evolution and diversification of the Toxicofera reptile venom system. Journal of Proteomics 72:127–136
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