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Hebius venningi (WALL, 1910)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Chin Hills Keelback
Chinese: 缅北腹链蛇 
SynonymTropidonotus venningi WALL 1910: 345
Natrix venningi WALL 1910
Tropidonotus venningi — VENNING 1911: 773
Tropidonotus venningi — WERNER 1929: 15 & 24 (in part)
Natrix venningi WALL 1923
Natrix venningi venningi — SMITH 1940: 483
Natrix venningi — SMITH 1943: 286
Amphiesma venningi MALNATE 1960
Paranatrix venningi — MAHENDRA 1984
Amphiesma venningi venningi — WELCH 1988: 34
Amphiesma venningi — DAVID et al. 2007
Hebius venningi — GUO et al. 2014
Amphiesma venningi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 34
Hebius venningi — DAVID et al. 2021 
DistributionIndia (Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur), N Myanmar (= Burma; Chin state), China (Yunnan)

Type locality: Haka Chin Hills, Burma  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.21.86, male, Paralectotypes: BMNH 1946.1.13.60, BMNH 1946.1.13.49, juvenile 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A moderately to large sized species of the genus Hebius characterized by the combination of (1) 17–18-17-16–17 dorsal scale rows, moderately keeled at midbody, strongly keeled posteriorly but 1st DSR smooth; (2) scales around the base of the tail strongly keeled; (3) head moderately distinct from the neck; (4) eye rather large; (5) maxillary teeth 28–30, the last two moderately enlarged; (6) tail long, with a ratio TaL/TL usually > 0.30; (7) VEN 155–172; (8) SC 115–129; (9) prefrontal scales 2; (10) anterior temporal rectangular, narrowing anteriorly; (11) venter never entirely dark along the whole length of the body: venter pale yellowish-grey or pale yellowish-brown (usually pink or coral-red in life, sometimes dark yellow) mesially, at least on the anterior part of the body, with outer parts of ventrals heavily and broadly clouded with darker hues of brown or dark brown; these dark areas extend progressively more widely inwards giving a dark, clouded venter posteriorly; (12) dorsum and sides olive-brown, olive-grey, dark grey, brown to dark brown or sometimes blackish-brown (same in preservative and in life); (13) dorsal surface distinctly chequered by the presence on sides and upper part of the body of diffuse, elongate or rectangular blackish-brown or very dark grey blotches; (14) a dorsolateral series of irregular blotches, yellow-ochre or yellowish-brown (brighter yellow-ochre or yellowish-brown in life), enlarged and forming a chain on the first quarter to third of the body, progressively smaller, usually vanishing after midbody; (15) a dark postocular streak usually present; and (16) an ochre-yellow or yellowish-brown streak on each side of the neck and nape forming an incomplete collar. 
CommentSubspecies: some authors have considered Amphiesma taronensis (SMITH 1940) as a subspecies of A. venningi. The status of A. taronense still seems to be a bit unclear.

Diet: tadpoles and frogs (David et al. 2021).

Distribution: not in Yunnan (China). 
EtymologyNamed after Brigadier Francis Esmond Wingate Venning (1882-1970) who served in the Indian army (1902-1933) and was an ornithologist and zoologist. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Captain, Ashok and Bharat B. Bhatt 2002. First record of Amphiesma venningi (Wall, 1910) (Serpentes, Colubridae, Natricinae) from India, with remarks on its subspecies. Hamadryad 26 (2):354-358 [2001] - get paper here
  • Das, I. 2012. A Naturalist's Guide to the Snakes of South-East Asia: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali. Oxford J, ohn Beaufoy Publishing - get paper here
  • Das, Indraneil;Chaturvedi, Naresh 1998. Catalogue of the herpetological types in the collection of the Bombay Natural History Society. Hamadryad 23 (2): 150-156 - get paper here
  • David, P., Bain, R. H., Nguyen Quang Truong, Orlov, N. L., Vogel, G., Vu Ngoc Thanh & T. Ziegler 2007. A new species of the natricine snake genus Amphiesma from the Indochinese Region (Squamata: Colubridae: Natricinae). Zootaxa 1462: 41-60 - get paper here
  • DAVID, PATRICK; GERNOT VOGEL, TRUONG QUANG NGUYEN, NIKOLAI L. ORLOV, OLIVIER S. G. PAUWELS, ALEXANDRE TEYNIÉ, THOMAS ZIEGLER 2021. A revision of the dark-bellied, stream-dwelling snakes of the genus Hebius (Reptilia: Squamata: Natricidae) with the description of a new species from China, Vietnam and Thailand. Zootaxa 4911: 1–61 - 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
  • Gayen, N. C. 2002. A record of Amphiesma venningi (Wall, 1910) (Serpentes: Colubridae) from Meghalaya state, India. Hamadryad 26 (2):375 [2001] - get paper here
  • GUO, PENG; FEI ZHU, QIN LIU, LIANG ZHANG, JIAN X. LI, YU Y. HUANG & R. ALEXANDER PYRON 2014. A taxonomic revision of the Asian keelback snakes, genus Amphiesma (Serpentes: Colubridae: Natricinae), with description of a new species. Zootaxa 3873 (4): 425–440 - get paper here
  • Hakim, J. 2023. New distribution record of the Chin Hills Keelback, Hebius venningi (Wall 1910)(Natricidae), from Manipur, Northeast India. Reptiles & Amphibians, 30(1), e20402-e20402 - get paper here
  • Lalbiakzuala & Lalremsanga, H T; 2019. Geographic Distribution: Hebius venningi (Chin Hills Keelback) India: Mizoram: Aizawl District. Herpetological Review 50 (2): 330 - get paper here
  • Mahendra B C 1984. Handbook of the snakes of India, Ceylon, Burma, Bangladesh and Pakistan. ANNALS OF ZOOLOGY (AGRA) 22 (B): i-xvi, 1-412
  • Reza, A. H. M. Ali. 2010. First record of Amphiesma venningi (Wall, 1910) (Serpentes, Colubridae, Natricinae) from Bangladesh, with notes on its taxonomy, natural history, biogeography and other sympatric species. Hamadryad 35 (1): 64-72 - get paper here
  • Smith, M.A. 1940. The Amphibians and Reptiles obtained by Mr. Ronald Kaulback in Upper Burma. Records of the Indian Museum 42: 465-486 - get paper here
  • 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.
  • Venning, F.E.W. 1910. Further notes on snakes from the Chin Hills. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 20: 770-775 - get paper here
  • Wall,F. 1910. A new Tropidonotus from the Chin Hills. J. Bombay nat. Hist. Soc. 20: 345-346 - 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.
  • Wang K, Lyu ZT, Wang J, Qi S, Che J 2022. Updated Checklist and Zoogeographic Division of the Reptilian Fauna of Yunnan Province, China. Biodiversity Science 30 (4): 21326, 1–31 - get paper here
  • Wang, Kai; Jinlong Ren, Hongman Chen, Zhitong Lyu, Xianguang Guo Ke Jiang, Jinmin Chen, Jiatang Li, Peng Guo, Yingyong Wang, Jing Che 2020. The updated checklists of amphibians and reptiles of China. Biodiversity Science 28 (2): 189-218 - get paper here
  • Whitaker, Romulus and Ashok Captain 2004. Snakes of India. Draco Books, 500 pp., reprinted 2007 - get paper here
  • Zhao, E.M. 2006. The snakes of China [in Chinese]. Hefei, China, Anhui Sience & Technology Publ. House, Vol. I, 372 pp., Vol. II (color plates), 280 pp.
  • Ziegler, T., and Quyet, L.K. 2006. A new natricine snake of the genus Amphiesma (Squamata: Colubridae: Natricinae) from the central Truong Son, Vietnam. Zootaxa 1225: 39-56 - get paper here
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