Colubrine snakes are distributed worldwide, with the highest diversity in North America, Asia, northern Africa, and the Middle East. There are relatively few species of colubrine snakes in Europe, South America, Australia, and southern Africa, and none in Madagascar, the Caribbean, or the Pacific Islands.
Colubrine snakes are extremely morphologically and ecologically diverse. Many are terrestrial, and there are specialized fossorial (e.g. Tantilla) and arboreal (e.g. Oxybelis) groups, but no truly aquatic groups. Some of the most powerful constrictors (e.g. Pantherophis, Pituophis, Lampropeltis) are members of this group, as are a few snakes that have strong enough venom to kill humans (i.e. boomslangs [Dispholidus] and twigsnakes [Thelotornis]).
Within Colubrinae, genera and species seem to make up five distinct radiations that are to varying degrees broadly similar in terms of ecology and geographic distribution, although increased sampling is needed to determine whether all species currently placed in Colubrinae fit into one of these groups. These correspond roughly to the historically recognized tribe names Sonorini, Colubrini, Boigini/Lycodontini, Dispholidini, and Lampropeltini.
^Wallach, V. W.; Williams, K. L.; Boundy, J. (2014). Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. Boca Raton, Florida, USA: CRC Press.
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