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Bitia hydroides GRAY, 1842

IUCN Red List - Bitia hydroides - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaHomalopsidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Keel-bellied Water Snake
G: Wasser-Schuppenkopf 
SynonymBitia hydroides GRAY 1842: 64
Homalopsis hydrina (fide SMITH 1943)
Hypistes hydrinus — GÜNTHER 1864: 287
Hipistes fasciatus GRAY 1849 (fide SMITH 1943)
Hipistes hydrinus — THEOBALD 1868: 58
Hipistes hydrinus — STOLICZKA 1870
Hipistes hydrinus — ANDERSON 1871: 181
Hipistes hydrinus — SMEDLEY 1931: 54
Bitia hydroides — SMITH 1943: 400
Bitia hydroides — MANTHEY & GROSSMANN 1997: 318
Biotia [hydroides] — LU et al. 2006 (in error)
Bitia hydroides — MURPHY & VORIS 2014: 10
Bitia hydroides — WALLACH et al. 2014: 90 
DistributionMyanmar (= Burma), Thailand, West Malaysia, Singapore,

Type locality: unknown (fide MANTHEY & GROSSMANN 1997)  
TypesType: BMNH 1946.1.2.38 (and possibly additional specimens). 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSIS (genus): Large head plates, dorsal scale rows at mid-body 37–43; ventral scales keeled; parietal scales fragmented; dorsal scales small, triangular have exposed skin between them. Convergent with true sea snakes, except it lacks a paddle tail (Murphy & Voris 2014: 10)

DIAGNOSIS: Scale rows at mid-body 37–43; ventral scales keeled; parietal scales fragmented; single internasal; dorsal scales small, triangular, exposed skin between them; loreal in contact with first 3 or 4 upper labials; ocular ring scales large, plate-like; upper labials 3–4 or 4–5 below the orbit; tail short, 8–11% of SVL (n = 28; Murphy & Voris 2014: 10) 
CommentBitia hydroides is a marine species with a small head, enlarged palatine teeth, narrow neck, reduced ventral scales, and somewhat flattened tail that resembles true sea snakes (Jayne et al., 1995).

Habitat: marine.

Type species: Bitia hydroides GRAY 1842 is the type species of the genus Bitia GRAY 1842.

Diet: fish 
  • Anderson, J. 1871. On some Indian reptiles. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1871: 149-211 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, George A. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor & Francis, London, xviii, 541 pp. - get paper here
  • Chan-ard, T., Parr, J.W.K. & Nabhitabhata, J. 2015. A field guide to the reptiles of Thailand. Oxford University Press, NY, 352 pp. [see book reviews by Pauwels & Grismer 2015 and Hikida 2015 for corrections] - get paper here
  • Dowling, H.G., & Jenner, J.V. 1988. Snakes of Burma: checklist of reported species and bibliography. Smithsonian Herp. Inf. Serv. (76): 19 pp. - get paper here
  • Fabre, Anne-Claire; David Bickford, Marion Segall and Anthony Herrel 2016. The impact of diet, habitat use, and behaviour on head shape evolution in homalopsid snakes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, DOI: 10.1111/bij.12753 - get paper here
  • FIGUEROA, ALEX; MARTYN E.Y. LOW, KELVIN K.P. LIM 2023. Singapore’s herpetofauna: updated and annotated checklist, history, conservation, and distribution. Zootaxa 5287 (1): 001–378 - get paper here
  • Gray, J. E. 1842. Monographic Synopsis of the Water Snakes, or the Family of Hydridae. Zoological Miscellany 2: 59-68. - get paper here
  • Jayne, B.C., T.J. Ward & H.K. Voris 1995. Morphology, reproduction, and diet of the marine homalopsine snake Bitia hydroides in peninsular Malaysia Copeia 1995 (4): 800-808. - get paper here
  • Lu, S.; Pang, J.; Yang, D. 2006. Morphological phylogeny of the water snake subfamily Homalopsinae (Serpent: Colubridae). Zoological Research 27 (4): 363-366
  • Manthey, U. & Grossmann, W. 1997. Amphibien & Reptilien Südostasiens. Natur und Tier Verlag (Münster), 512 pp. - get paper here
  • Murphy, J.C. & Voris, H.K. 2014. A Checklist and Key to the Homalopsid Snakes (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes), with the Description of New Genera. FIELDIANA: LIFE AND EARTH SCIENCES (8): 1–43 - get paper here
  • Murphy, John C. 2007. Homalopsid Snakes: Evolution in the Mud. Krieger Publishing, Malabar, Florida, 249 pp.
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Smedley, N. 1931. Notes on some Malaysian snakes. Bull. Raffles Mus. No 5: 49-54
  • Smith, M.A. 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-Region. Reptilia and Amphibia. 3 (Serpentes). Taylor and Francis, London. 583 pp.
  • Stoliczka, F. 1870. Observations on some Indian and Malayan Amphibia and Reptilia. J. Asiat. Soc. Bengal 39: 134-228. - get paper here
  • Stoliczka, F. 1870. Observations of some Indian and Malayan Amphibia and Reptilia (abstract). Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (4) 6: 105-109 - get paper here
  • Taylor,E.H. 1965. The serpents of Thailand and adjacent waters. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 45 (9): 609-1096 - get paper here
  • Theobald, William 1868. Catalogue of the reptiles of British Birma, embracing the provinces of Pegu, Martaban, and Tenasserim; with descriptions of new or little-known species. Zool. J. Linnean Soc. 10: 4-67. - get paper here
  • Voris, Harold K., Michael E. Alfaro, Daryl R. Karns, G. Lucas Starnes, Emma Thompson and John C. Murphy 2002. Phylogenetic relationships of the Oriental-Australian rear-fanged water snakes (Colubridae: Homalopsinae) based on Mitochondrial DNA sequences. Copeia 2002 (4): 906-915 - 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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