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Lycodonomorphus rufulus (LICHTENSTEIN, 1823)

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Common NamesE: Common Water Snake, Common Brown Water Snake, Olive-brown Water-Snake, South African Rufous Snake 
SynonymColuber rufulus LICHTENSTEIN 1823: 105
Coluber rufulus — FITZINGER 1826: 57
Coronella Leucopilus SMITH 1831: 17
Coronella rufula — SCHLEGEL 1837: 74
Lycodonomorphus rufulus — FITZINGER 1843: 27
Lamprophis rufulus — SMITH 1847: 58
Ablabes rufula — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 308
Lamprophis rufulus — JAN 1866
Ablabophis rufulus — BOULENGER 1893: 318
Ablabophus — MITCHELL 1950: 53 (in error)
Lycodonomorphus rufulus rufulus — FITZSIMONS 1966
Lycodonomorphus rufulus — AUERBACH 1987: 155
Lycodonomorphus rufulus — BOYCOTT 1992
Lycodonomorphus rufulus — BROADLEY & BLAYLOCK 2013
Lycodonomorphus rufulus — BATES et al. 2014: 368 
DistributionZimbabwe, S Mozambique, Republic of South Africa (Eastern Cape), Swaziland, Lesotho, Natal, Botswana, Malawi

Type locality: Africa australis = South Africa  
TypesHolotype: ZMB 1759 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Distributed throughoutcentral, east and southern Africa, this largely aquatic genus is diag-nosed by the following combination of characters: body cylindricaland moderately elongated; tail moderately to short; head moder-ate to small, slightly broader than neck and distinct from it; eyemoderate, with vertically elliptical, sub-circular to round pupil;midbody scale rows 19–23 (rarely 25), vertebral row not enlarged;dorsal scales smooth, without apical pits or with two pits; ventrals152–196, without lateral keel; subcaudals paired, 37–89; anal en-tire (exceptionally divided); maxilla with 18–25 teeth, subequal orslightly smaller or larger posteriorly, diastema absent; hemipenisunforked or very shallowly forked, shaft with feeble basal spinesarranged in diagonal rows which change to chevrons distally,spines decrease in size distally; sulcus centrifugal, dividing approx-imately half way up shaft (Bogert, 1940; Broadley, 1990; Branch,1998). After KELLY et al. 2011 (See their Table 4 for additional data).

Diagnosis: Maxillary teeth 18-25, small, subequal; mandibular teeth longest anteriorly. Head slightly distinct from neck; eye moderate, with round or vertically subelliptic pupil; nostril directed upwards, in a semi-divided or divided nasal; a loreal; preoculars 1, rarely 2; lateral head shields separated by an inconspicuous groove from the upper labials. Body cylindrical ; scales smooth, with or without apical pits, in 19-25 rows; ventrals rounded; anal entire, rarely divided. Tail moderate, tapering; subcaudals paired. Hemipenis of male not (bicolor and subtaeniatus) or distally bifurcate (rufulus); sulcus spermaticus forked. Hypapophyses present posteriorly in the vertebral column [from LOVERIDGE 1959]. 
CommentSynonymy: mostly after LOVERIDGE 1959.

Subspecies: Lycodonomorphus rufulus mlanjensis LOVERIDGE 1953 is now treated as valid species.

Type species: Coronella rufula LICHTENSTEIN 1823 is the type species of the genera Lycodonomorphus FITZINGER 1843 and Ablabophis BOULENGER 1893.

Diet: frogs, fish

Habitat. Restricted by their diet to marshy ground or the vicinity of swamps, pools, and rivers. 
  • Auerbach, R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • 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.
  • Bauer, A.M. 2000. Comments on the types and type localities of South African reptiles collected by Heinrich Bergius and Ludwig Krebs. African Journal of Herpetology 49:53-60 - get paper here
  • 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, William R. 1993. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 144 S.
  • Broadley, D. & Blaylock 2013. The Snakes of Zimbabwe and Botswana. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 387 pp. [book review in Sauria 35 (2): 59 and Copeia 2014: 388] - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1959. The herpetology of Southern Rhodesia. Part I--the snakes. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 120 (1): 1-100 [reprint 1972] - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1962. On some reptile collections from the North-Western and North-Eastern Districts of Southern Rhodesia 1958-1961, with descriptions of four new lizards. Occ. Pap. Nat. Mus. South. Rhodesia 26 (B): 787-843
  • Broadley, D.G. 1967. A review of the genus Lycodonomorphus Fitzinger (Serpentes: Colubridae) in southeastern Africa, with a key to the genus. Arnoldia 3 (16): 1-9
  • Broadley, Donald G. and F. P. D. Cotterill. 2004. The reptiles of southeast Katanga, an overlooked 'hot spot'. [Congo]. African Journal of Herpetology 53 (1): 35-61. - 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
  • Fitzinger, L. 1826. Neue Classification der Reptilien nach ihren natürlichen Verwandtschaften nebst einer Verwandschafts-Tafel und einem Verzeichnisse der Reptilien-Sammlung des K. K. Zoologischen Museums zu Wien. J. G. Heubner, Wien, 66 pp. - get paper here
  • Fitzinger, L. 1843. Systema Reptilium, fasciculus primus, Amblyglossae. Braumüller et Seidel, Wien: 106 pp. - get paper here
  • Fitzsimons, V. 1966. A check-list, with syntopic keys, to the snakes of southern Africa. Annals of the Transvaal Museum 25 (3): 35-79
  • Haagner, G.V. 1992. Life History Notes - Lycodonomorphus rufulus. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa (41): 42-42 - get paper here
  • Hörold, R. 2018. Hausschlangen – versteckte Vielfalt. Reptilia 23 (129): 16-22
  • Jan, G. 1866. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 17. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Lichtenstein, M. HINRICH C. 1823. Verzeichniss der Doubletten des zoologischen Museums der Königl. Universität zu Berlin nebst Beschreibung vieler bisher unbekannter Arten von Säugethieren, Vögeln, Amphibien und Fischen. Königl. Preuss. Akad. Wiss./ T. Trautwein, Berlin. x, 118 pages - get paper here
  • Loveridge,A. 1958. Revision of five african snake genera. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 119: 1-198 (141) - get paper here
  • Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa, 2nd ed. Struik Publishers, 312 pp.
  • Mitchell, B.L. 1950. Some reptiles and amphibians of Nyasaland. The Nyasaland Journal 3 (2): 46-57 - get paper here
  • Phelps, Tony 2002. A study of the Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with particular reference to long-term-refugia. Herpetological Bulletin (80): 7-19 - get paper here
  • SCHMIDT, W. 2011. Lycodonomorphus rufulus (Lichtenstein, 1823) Diet. African Herp News (54): 15-17 - get paper here
  • Smith, A. 1831. Contributions to the natural history of South Africa, No. 1. South African Quart. J. (1) 2 (5) 5: 9-24.
  • Smith, A. 1849. Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa. 3 (Reptiles). Smith, Elder, and Co., London [facsimile published by Winchester Press, Johannesburg, 1977] - get paper here
  • Smith,A. 1847. Illustrations of the zoology of South Africa, Reptilia. Smith, Elder, and Co., London - get paper here
  • Venter, Jan A.; Werner Conradie 2015. A checklist of the reptiles and amphibians found in protected areas along the South African Wild Coast, with notes on conservation implications. Koedoe 57 (1): 1-25. doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v57i1.1247 - 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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