In 2008 a team of Ecuadorian and international herpetologists stopped to eat at Dona Marcia Pacheco’s roadside grilled-chicken restaurant in southeast Ecuador. The ever-vigilant herpetologists noticed a strange banded snake in a jar of alcohol in the restaurant. It was a distinctive species that none of them had ever seen before. Their scientific article explains: “After negotiating with the owner of the restaurant, the specimen was acquired and later determined to be a species of Siphlophis. However, it could not be keyed out to any known species. During a second joint herpetofaunal survey by the MECN [Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales] and the ARDRC-UTA [University of Texas- Arlington] of the upper Pastaza River drainage in March 2008, a second specimen was found alive at El Topo, in the province of Tungurahua.” El Topo is the community at the entrance to our Rio Zunac Reserve.
The species was published scientifically in 2014 and named Siphlophus ayauma. A few examples were later found in other places, always in the eastern Andes of the provinces of Tungurahua, Morona-Santiago, and Zamora in southeast Ecuador. Our herpetologist and reserve manager, Juan Pablo Reyes, sent me the article and said that this species might even occur where I live, above Banos in Tungurahua province.
A few evenings ago when I entered my bedroom I saw a long slender snake slowly moving on the floor. Since it looked vaguely like a coral snake, I was cautious, and carefully caught it without touching it. I put it in a plant pot to photograph, and sent the photos to Juan Pablo. He told me that it was in fact this newly-described Siphlophis ayauma!! Quite an exciting thing to find in my house…
Coleman M. Sheehy III, Mario H. Yánez-Muñoz, Jorge H. Valencia, Eric N. Smith (2014). A New Species of Siphlophis (Serpentes: Dipsadidae: Xenodontinae) from the Eastern Andean Slopes of Ecuador. South American Journal of Herpetology 9: 30-45.