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Lycophidion multimaculatum BOETTGER, 1888

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Cape Wolf Snake
multimaculatum: Spotted Wolf Snake
G: Kap-Wolfsnatter 
SynonymLycophidion capense mut. multimaculata BOETTGER 1888: 67
Lycophidion capense multimaculatum — LAURENT 1956
Lycophidion capense multimaculatum — LAURENT 1968
Lycophidion capense multimaculatum — TRAPE & ROUX-ESTÈVE 1995: 38
Lycophidion capense multimaculatum — AUERBACH 1987: 157
Lycophidion multimaculatum — BROADLEY 1991: 528
Lycophidion capense multimaculatum — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 25
Lycophidion multimaculatum — HAAGNER et al. 2000
Lycophidion multimaculatum — BROADLEY & COTTERILL 2004
Lycophidion multimaculatum — CHIRIO & LEBRETON 2007
Lycophidion multimaculatum — WALLACH et al. 2014: 410
Lycophidion multimaculatum — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 400 
DistributionCongo (Brazzaville), Angola, N Namibia, S Zaire, W/N Zambia, Tanzania (Tatanda, Sumbawanga District), Cameroon, Republic of South Sudan (RSS), Sudan (Jumhūriyyat)

Type locality: “bei Povo Nemlao [...] bei Povo Netonna, nächst Banana” (two localities for the 2 syntypes)  
Reproductionoviparous (not imputed, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesLectotype: SMF 17973 (formerly 7340a) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Nostril pierced at the posterior edge of the nasal, bordered by a postnasal that is in contact with the first supralabial. Dorsal scales with single apical pits in 17- 17-15 rows, the reduction taking place well before the vent; ventrals 159-182 in males, 153-188 in females; subcaudals 26-38 in males, 22-33 in females (Broadley 1996: 19).

Coloration: There is considerable geographical variation in the colouration of this species. The types from Banana, together with material from Angola and western Zambia, are red-brown to grey with white stippling, except for a double series of irregular dark blotches which may be confluent to form crossbands. The ventrum is largely white, but the chin may be dark and there is a dark median stripe or series of confluent dark blotches. Specimens from northwestern Zambia are darker, i.e. dorsum black, but a dense white stippling gives a blue-grey appearance except where unmarked areas leave large black blotches which may be confluent to form crossbands (specimens from northeastern Zambia and adjacent Tanzania are uniform blue-grey), stippling on top of head tends to form vermiculations. Ventrum blue-grey except for chin and throat and free edges of the ventrals, which are white (Broadley 1996: 19).

Skull: There is geographical variation in skull shape, the dwarfed specimens from the Caprivi Strip and western Zambia are neotenic, with a short skull lacking parietal crests. Specimens from northeastern Zambia and adjacent Tanzania are larger, with elongate skulls which have parietal crests not confluent posteriorly (Broadley 1996: 19).

Size: Largest male (ZSM 131/1954a - Bela Vista, Angola) 286 + 41 = 327 mm; largest female (MCZ 74128 - Lunda, N.E. Angola) 475 + 53 = 528 mm. Specimens from the southern edge of the species range (Caprivi strip and western Zambia) are dwarfed, perhaps due to character displacement where in contact with the larger species L. capense (Broadley 1996: 19).

Diagnosis: also in Laurent 1968: 474. 
CommentDistribution: Map: Broadley 1996 
  • Auerbach, R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • Boettger, O. 1888. Materialien zur Fauna des unteren Congo. II. Reptilien und Batrachier. Ber. Senck. Ges. 1887: 3-108 - get paper here
  • Broadley D G. 1991. A review of the Namibian snakes of the genus Lycophidion (Serpentes: Colubridae), with the description of a new endemic species. Annals Transvaal Mus. 35 (14): 209-215 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1991. The Herpetofauna of Northern Mwinilunga Distr., Northw. Zambia. Arnoldia Zimbabwe 9 (37): 519-538
  • Broadley, D.G. 1996. A revision of the genus Lycophidion Fitzinger (Serpentes: Colubridae) in Africa south of the equator. Syntarsus 3: 1-33. - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G.; Doria, C.T. & Wigge, J. 2003. Snakes of Zambia. An Atlas and Field Guide. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 280 pp. [review in Sauria 26 (3): 21]
  • Chippaux, Jean-Philippe & Kate Jackson 2019. Snakes of Central and Western Africa. Johns Hopkins University Press, 448 pp. [detaileld review in HR 51 (1): 161] - get paper here
  • Chirio, L. & Lebreton, M. 2007. Atlas des reptiles du Cameroun. MNHN, IRD, Paris 688 pp.
  • Conradie W and Branch WR. 2016. The herpetofauna of the Cubango, Cuito, and lower Cuando river catchments of south-eastern Angola. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 10 (2) [Special Section]: 6–36 - get paper here
  • CONRADIE, WERNER; NINDA L. BAPTISTA, LUKE VERBURGT, CHAD KEATES, JAMES HARVEY, TIMOTEO JULIO & GOTZ NEEF. 2021. Contributions to the herpetofauna of the Angolan Okavango-Cuando-Zambezi river drainages. Part 1: Serpentes (snakes). Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 15(2): 244–278. - get paper here
  • Haagner,G.V.; Branch,W.R. & Haagner,A.J.F. 2000. Notes on a collection of reptiles from Zambia and adjacent areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Annals of the Eastern Cape Museum 1: 1 – 25
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  • Laurent, R.F. 1968. A re-examination of the snake genus Lycophidion Duméril & Bibron. Bull. Mus. comp. Zool. Harvard 136 (12): 461-482 - get paper here
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  • Pietersen, Darren, Verburgt, Luke & Davies, John 2021. Snakes and other reptiles of Zambia and Malawi. Struik Nature / Penguin Random House South Africa, 376 pp., ISBN 9781775847373
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  • Schleicher, Alfred 2020. Reptiles of Namibia. Kuiseb Publishers, Windhoek, Namibia, 271 pp.
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
  • Trape, J.F. & R. ROUX-ESTÈVE 1995. Les serpents du Congo: liste commentée et clé de détermination. Journal of African Zoology 109 (1): 31-50
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  • TRAPE, JEAN-FRANÇOIS & CELLOU BALDÉ 2014. A checklist of the snake fauna of Guinea, with taxonomic changes in the genera Philothamnus and Dipsadoboa (Colubridae) and a comparison with the snake fauna of some other West African countries. Zootaxa 3900 (3): 301–338 - 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.
  • Zimin, A., Zimin, S. V., Shine, R., Avila, L., Bauer, A., Böhm, M., Brown, R., Barki, G., de Oliveira Caetano, G. H., Castro Herrera, F., Chapple, D. G., Chirio, L., Colli, G. R., Doan, T. M., Glaw, F., Grismer, L. L., Itescu, Y., Kraus, F., LeBreton 2022. A global analysis of viviparity in squamates highlights its prevalence in cold climates. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 00, 1–16 - get paper here
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