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Cerberus rynchops (SCHNEIDER, 1799)

IUCN Red List - Cerberus rynchops - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaHomalopsidae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: South Asian Bockadam, New Guinea bockadam, Dog-faced Water Snake
G: Hundskopf-Wassertrugnatter 
SynonymHydrus rynchops SCHNEIDER 1799: 246
Hydrus cinereus SHAW 1802
Coluber cerberus DAUDIN 1803: 167
Python rhynchops — MERREM 1820: 90
Homalopsis cerberus — FITZINGER 1826
Homalopsis molurus H. BOIE 1826
Homalopsis rhynchops — BOIE 1827
Cerberus cerberus — CUVIER 1829
Cerberus cinereus — CANTOR 1839
Homalopsis rhinchops (sic) — CANTOR 1847
Cerberus rhynchops — GÜNTHER 1864: 279
Cerberus rhynchops — ANDERSON 1871: 179
Hurria rynchops — STEJNEGER 1907: 304
Hurria rynchops — MERTENS 1930
Cerberus rynchops — SMITH 1930
Cerberus rynchops rynchops — LOVERIDGE 1948
Cerberus rhynchops [sic]— BOULENGER 1894: 84
Cerberus rhynchops — WALL 1921: 257
Cerberus rynchops — SMITH 1943
Cerberus rhynchops — HENDRICKSON 1966
Cerberus rynchops — MANTHEY & GROSSMANN 1997: 331
Cerberus rynchops — COGGER 2000: 619
Cerberus rynchops — COX et al. 1998: 39
Cerberus rhynchops — MURTHY 2010
Cerberus rynchops — MURPHY & VORIS 2014: 12
Cerberus rynchops — WALLACH et al. 2014: 155 
Distributioncoastal areas of India (Gujarat, Kerala etc.), Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, NW Malaysia, Philippines (Panay), Timor-Leste, Indonesia (Sumatra), Palau

Type locality: “Ganjam” (Orissa State, SE India), (~19°22’N 85°03’E). There are at least two other localities on India’s east coast that contain the name “Ganjam:” Chinna Ganjam and Pedda Ganjam. Both of these are south of Ganjam, all three locations are coastal and within the range of this species. MURPHY et al. 2012 restricted the type locality to Ganjam, India. Map legend:
Type locality - Type locality.
TDWG region - Region according to the TDWG standard, not a precise distribution map.

NOTE: TDWG regions are generated automatically from the text in the distribution field and not in every cases it works well. We are working on it.
 
Reproductionviviparous 
TypesHolotype: Based on illustration in Russell’s (1796) Indian Serpents 
CommentSynonymy: partly after MURPHY et al. 2012 (see there for more details).

Ecology: This is a saltwater tolaterant species. Not in Pakistan fide KHAN 2002 (pers. comm.)

Type species: Coluber cerberus Daudin (=Hydrus rynchops Schneider) is the type species of the genus Cerberus CUVIER 1829: 81.

Diagnosis (genus): Cerberus can be distinguished from all other homalopsid snakes with nasal scales in contact by: keeled, striated dorsal scales; absence of rostral appendages; and parietal scales that are partially or completely fragmented. It differs from its sister, Homalopsis, in having fewer scale rows (21–31 at midbody in Cerberus, 33– 49 rows in Homalopsis) and fragmented parietal scales. Most specimens are less than one meter, and the maximum size for most species is less than 1.2 m. The tail is 16–29% of the snout-vent length (SVL). Females are larger than males in the species where both sexes could be examined. Head plates (prefrontal, frontal, and parietals) show a strong tendency to fragment into smaller scales. One or more large posterior upper labials are horizontally divided. Subocular scales may or may not be present, even within a single population. Temporal scales are small and not plate-like. Dorsal scale rows at midbody range from 21–31; however most specimens of most species have 23, 2, or 29 rows at midbody. Dorsal scale ornamentation consists of a strongly striated surface with central keel when viewed with a binocular light microscope with 10x magnification, and some individuals have tubercles on head scales. Ventral scales range from 134–172 and subcaudal scales range from 42–7. Anterior maxillary teeth number 12–19 and are followed by a diastema and a pair of deeply grooved fangs. Three pairs of chin shields are present and the first pair is usually the largest.

Diagnosis (species): Cerberus rynchops can be distinguished from all other members of the genus by its 2 (rarely 23) scale rows at midbody, the imbricate plate-like scales on the crown have a flat, thin appearance and are keeled anterior to angle of jaw; the last two upper labial are horizontally divided; the venter is mottled. Cerberus australis has 23 scale rows at mid-body, and the first upper labial does not contact the loreal (it usually does so in all other Cerberus species). Cerberus dunsoni has 23 scale rows at mid body, rounded juxtaposed scales on the crown, and a uniform black venter. Cerberus schneiderii usually has 23 scale rows at mid-body (rarely 21 or 2), the last upper labial is horizontally divided (as opposed to two in C. rynchops), and the venter is mottled [MURPHY et al. 2012].

Habitat: mangrove forests and mudflats along the shores of brackish estuarine and marine coastal environments (Greer, 1997; Karns et al., 2000); occasionally found in freshwater as well and on sheltered sandy coasts.

Diet: mainly fish (Jayne et al., 1988), crustaceans, tadpoles and frogs (Voris & Murphy, 2002)

Note that ALFARO et al. (2004) indicated that C. r. rynchops of Gyi could be split into four to five phylogenetic species correlated with biogeographical regions and C. microlepis was included in the Philippines Cerberus clade. 
References
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