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Alopecion guttatum (SMITH, 1843)

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Spotted Rock Snake, Spotted House Snake 
SynonymLycodon guttatus SMITH 1843: 38
Alopecion annulifer DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 416
Alopecion annulifer — GÜNTHER 1858: 196
Boodon guttatus — BOULENGER 1891: 14
Boodon guttatus — BOULENGER 1893: 331
Boaedon guttatus — LOVERIDGE 1936
Boaedon guttatus — HEWITT 1937: 36
Boaedon guttatus — ROSE 1950: 276
Boaedon guttatus — ISEMONGER 1955: 68
Boaedon guttatus — FITZSIMONS 1962: 116
Lamprophis guttatus — BOYCOTT 1992
Lamprophis guttatus — KELLY et al. 2011
Boaedon guttatus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 96
Alopecion guttatum — TIUTENKO et al. 2022 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (Cape Province, E Transvaal, Swaziland), Namibia

Type locality: beyond Kurrichane, Cape Colony.  
TypesType: BMNH 1946.1.23.16 (and possibly additional specimens). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: “Size small, usually not exceeding 600 mm in total length; body moderately elongated; tail moderate, 18–21% of total length; head of moderate size, in dorsal view egg-shaped or slightly isosceles trapezoidal, posteriorly much broader than neck, markedly depressed; snout blunt, in dorsal view square-shaped, slightly curved down in lateral view; eye moderate to large, with vertically elliptical pupil, capable of shrinking to a thin vertical streak; preocular 1; postoculars 2–3; temporals 1+2; rostral small, semi-circular, not visible or barely visible from above; upper labials 7, 3rd–5th in contact with eye; lower labials 7–9; anterior chinshields significantly (up-to two times) larger than posterior; gulars irregular or arranged in up-to 4 pairs between posterior chinshields and first ventral; midbody scale rows 21–23, vertebral row not enlarged; dorsal scales smooth, without apical pits; ventrals 186–230; subcaudals in 46–72 pairs; anal entire; maxilla with 15–17 teeth; 1st maxillary tooth short, approximately equal in length to the last; teeth 2–6 gradually increase in length up to the 5th which is about twice as long as the 2nd; a well-defined diastema after the 6th tooth, followed by 11–12 smaller teeth, gradually decreasing in length posteriorly; mandibular teeth increase in length from 2nd to 6th (which is the longest) then decrease to 8th which is followed by 11–15 shorter teeth gradually decreasing in length posteriorly; hemipenis not forked. Colour: regionally variable; basic dorsal pattern consists of blotches or spots, arranged in either alternating or adjacent pairs on yellow-brown or grey-brown background; venter off-white or pale-yellow, with occasional greyish spots.” (Tiutenko et al. 2022: 248) 
CommentType species: Lycodon guttatus SMITH 1843: 38 is the type species of the genus Alopecion DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854.

Distribution: for a map of the genus see Tiutenko et al. 2022: 258 (Fig. 12). 
EtymologyNamed after Latin guttatus, a, um, ‘spotted, speckled’, in reference to the spotted coloration of this taxon. 
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1891. On some Reptiles collected by Sig. L. Bricchetti Robecchi in Somaliland. Ann. Mus. St. nat. Genova (2) 12: 5-15 [1892?]
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Boycott, R.C. 1992. An Annotated Checklist of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Swaziland. The Conservation Trust of Swaziland - get paper here
  • Branch W R 1984. The house snakes of southern Africa (genus Lamprophis). Litteratura Serpentium 4 (3-4): 106-120
  • Branch, W. R. 1991. Life History Note: Lamprophis guttatus: Diet. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa (39): 24-24 - get paper here
  • Branch, Wiliam R. 2014. Lamprophis guttatus (A. Smith, 1843) Spotted House Snake. African Herp News (61): 39-40 - get paper here
  • Branch, William R. 1993. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 144 S.
  • Burger M 1991. Lamprophis guttatus. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa 39: 20 - get paper here
  • Conradie, Werner; Brian Reeves , Neil Brown, & Jan A. Venter 2016. Herpetofauna of the Oviston, Commando Drift and Tsolwana nature reserves in the arid interior of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Indago 32: 81-98 - get paper here
  • Duméril, A.M.C., G. BIBRON & A.H.A. DUMÉRIL 1854. Erpétologie générale ou Histoire Naturelle complète des Reptiles. Vol. 7 (partie 1). Paris, xvi + 780 S. - get paper here
  • Fitzsimons, V. 1966. A check-list, with syntopic keys, to the snakes of southern Africa. Annals Transvaal Museum 25 (3): 35-79 - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1858. Catalogue of Colubrine snakes of the British Museum. London, I - XVI, 1 - 281 - get paper here
  • Hermann R 1991. Seltene Hausschlangen Sudafrikas. Teil I Lamprophis fuscus Boulenger 1893 und Lamprophis guttatus (Smith 1843). Sauria 13 (2): 25-30 - get paper here
  • Herrmann, H.-W.; W.R. Branch 2013. Fifty years of herpetological research in the Namib Desert and Namibia with an updated and annotated species checklist. Journal of Arid Environments 93: 94–115 - get paper here
  • Hörold, R. 2018. Hausschlangen – versteckte Vielfalt. Reptilia 23 (129): 16-22
  • Hörold, Ralf 2020. Haltung und Nachzucht von Lepidodactylus lugubris (DUMERIL & BIBRON, 1836) als Aufzuchtfutter für Echsen fressende Schlangen. Ophidia 14 (1): 2-14
  • HUYSSTEEN, R. VAN & M. PETFORD. 2018. Lamprophis guttatus (A. Smith, 1844). Diet. African Herp News (67): 26 - get paper here
  • Kelly, Christopher M.R.; William R. Branch, Donald G. Broadley, Nigel P. Barker, Martin H. Villet 2011. Molecular systematics of the African snake family Lamprophiidae Fitzinger, 1843 (Serpentes: Elapoidea), with particular focus on the genera Lamprophis Fitzinger 1843 and Mehelya Csiki 1903. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 58(3): 415-426 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1936. African reptiles and amphibians in the Field Museum of Natural History. Zool. Ser. Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Chicago, 22 (1): 1-122 - get paper here
  • Smith, A. 1838. Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa, consisting chiefly of Figures and Descriptions of the Objects of Natural History collected during an Expedition into the Interior of South Africa, in the years 1834, 1835, and 1836 . . . Vol. 3, Reptilia. Smith, Elder, and Co., London [This series was published in 28 parts; see Waterhouse 1880, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1880:489-491, and Jentink 1893, Notes Leyden Mus. 15:182, for publication dates and contents.] - get paper here
  • TAFT, J. M.; J. GREUEL & B. MARITZ 2017. LAMPROPHIIDAE: Lamprophis guttatus (A. Smith 1844) Spotted House Snake - DIET. African Herp News (65): 11-12 - get paper here
  • Tiutenko, A., Koch, C., Pabijan, M., & Zinenko, O. 2022. Generic affinities of African house snakes revised: a new genus for Boodon erlangeri (Serpentes: Elapoidea: Lamprophiidae: Lamprophiinae). SALAMANDRA, 58(4), 235-262 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
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