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Natrix tessellata (LAURENTI, 1768)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Dice Snake
G: Würfelnatter
Croatian: ribarica
Russian: Водяной уж
Chinese: 棋斑水游蛇
Italian: natrice tassellata 
SynonymCoronella tessellata LAURENTI 1768: 87
Coluber hydrus PALLAS 1771: 429
Coluber hydrophylus LINDAKER 1791
CAmphibolurus barbatusoluber ponticus GULDENSTADT 1811
Enhydris caspia OKEN 1816
Natrix tessellata — MERREM 1820
Coluber gabinus METAXA 1823
Tropidonotus gracilis EICHWALD 1831
Tropidonotus tantalus EICHWALD 1831
Coluber griseus DWIGUBSKIJ 1832
Coluber muravievii DWIGUBSKIJ 1832
Coluber reticulatus MENETRIES 1832
Coluber penttatus MENETRIES 1832
Natrix tessellata var. albo Iineata BONAPARTE 1834
Coluber elaphoides BRANDT 1838
Natrix hydrus var. immaculata FITZINGER 1840
Natrix tessellata var. flavescens MASSOLONGO 1853
Tropidonotus hydrus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 564 (fide WALLACH p.c.)
Tropidonotus tessellatus var. concolor JAN 1864
Tropidonotus tessellatus var. decipiens DE BETTA 1865
Tropidonotus hydrus — ANDERSON 1872
Tropidonotus tesselatus — BOETTGER 1879: 64
Tropidonotus tessellatus laurenti BEDRIAGA 1881
Tropidonotus hydrus — BLANFORD 1881: 680
Tropidonotus tessellatus var. flavescens WERNER 1891: 766
Tropidonotus tessellatus — BOULENGER 1893: 233
Tropidonotus tessellatus var. Hagenbecki WERNER 1897: 262
Tropidonotus tessellatus var. lineaticollis WERNER 1897: 262
Tropidonotus tessellatus var. nigerrima WERNER 1897: 262
Tropidonotus tesellatus [sic] — NIKOLSKY 1897: 334
Tropidonotus tessellatus var. sparsus DÜRIGEN 1897
Tropidonotus tessellatus var. rubromaculosus DÜRIGEN 1897
Tropidonotus tessellatus vosseleri WERNER 1903
Tropidonotus tessellatus —  ZUGMAYER 1909
Tropidonotus tessellatus — BOULENGER 1913
Natrix hydrus — BARBOUR 1914: 88
Tropidonotus tessellatus — VENZMER 1919: 119
Tropidonotus tessellatus var. hydrus — VENZMER 1919: 119
Tropidonotus tessellatus var. vosseleri — VENZMER 1919: 120
Tropidonotus tessellatus — BOULENGER 1920
Tropidonotus tessellatus — LEPSI 1927
Tropidonotus tessellatus subsp. heinrothi HECHT 1930
Natrix dubbiosii SCORTECCI 1932 (fide LEVITON 1977)
Natrix tessellata var. gaydai SOCHUREK 1956
Natrix tessellata var. cyreni SOCHUREK 1956
Natrix dubbiosii — CORKILL & COCHRANE 1966
Natrix dunni MALNATE 1968 (fide MERTENS 1969)
Natrix dunni — GRANDISON 1978: 293
Sinonatrix dunni — MALNATE 1968 (fide TWEEDIE 1983)
Natrix tessellata tessellata — GASPERETTI 1988: 260
Natrix tessellata — ENGELMANN et al 1993
Natrix tessellata — DAS 1996: 57
Xenochrophis tessellata — KHAN 2002
Natrix tessellata — ZHAO 2006: 222
Natrix tessellata — WALLACH et al. 2014: 480
Natrix tessellatus — RHADI et al. 2017 
DistributionGermany, S Switzerland, S France, E Austria,
Croatia (including some adriatic islands, e.g. Krk), Slovenia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Italy, Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia), Slovakia, Russia, Albania, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, Greece (incl. Crete, Lesbos, Samos, Corfu, Kithira, Serifos, Euböa, Tinos), Cyprus, Afghanistan (LEVITON 1959: 461),
S Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan,Pakistan,
Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon,
NE Egypt, Israel,
NW China (Xinjiang)

Type locality: “Japidia, vulgo Cars” = Istrian Peninsula, Croatia. (which used to be a part of Italy)

Distribution of synonymized forms:

Sinonatrix dunni: see comment

hydrophylus: Prague

Enhydris caspia: „Fluß Rhymnus [Ural] into the Caspian Sea")

Coluber gabinus: (Gabi nel Maggio)

Tropidonotus gracilis: (mouth of Volga)

Tropidonotus tantalus: Tjuk-Karagan, east of the Caspian Sea

Coluber griseus: (near Gandscha River, Transcaucasus)

Coluber reticulatus: (Lenkoran, SW-Küste des Kaspi-Sees)

Coluber muravievii: (Steppes near the Azow Sea and mineral springs in the Kaukasus)

Coluber penttatus MENETRIES 1832

Natrix tessellata var. albo Iineata: (Italy)

C elaphoides: (Westcoast of Caspian Sea till North-Irad)

N. hydrus immaculata: (Taurien = Gouvernement Cherson)

Natrix tessellata var. flavescens: (Province Verona)

T. tessellatus var. concolor: (Lombardy, Italy)

T tessellatus var. decipiens: (Villafranca, Veronese)

T. tessellatus laurenti: (Island Santa Maura = Levkas/Gr)

T. tessellatus var. flavescens: (Zadar, Croatia)

T. tessellatus var. sparsus: (Caucasus)

T. tessellatus var. rubromaculosus: (Germany)

T. tessellatus vosseleri: (Route Adalia-Buldur = Antalya-
Burdur, minor Asia)

T. tessellatus subsp. heinrothi (Snake Island Serpilor in the Black Sea)

Natrix dubbiosi scortecci (Sana'a, Yemen: ex errore)

Natrix tessellata var. gaydai (Island „Serpilor" = oz. Zmeynyj

Natrix tessellata var. cyreni SOCHUREK, 1956 (Ioannina Lake, Greece)  
ReproductionOviparous. N. tessellata hybridizes with N. natrix and N. maura (Mebert 2011, Trapp 2017). 
TypesHolotype: unknown (K. Mebert, pers. comm.)
Holotype: ZMB 31662 [heinrothi]
Holotype: USNM 141749 [Natrix dunni]
Holotype: lost, was USNM 4132 [Elgaria formosa]
Holotype: MSNM (Milano) [dubbiosii] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Maxillary teeth 6-9, two longer than others and separated from them by an interval; palatine teeth 3-5; pterygoid teeth 0-3; eyes rather small, with circular pupils; rostral broader than deep, visible from above; nasal usually semidivided; intemasals usually as long as or longer than broad, triangular, truncate in front, as long or nearly as long as prefrontals; 2 (rarely 1 or 3) preoculars, with or without subocular below; 8 (rarely 7) upper labials; 19 dorsal scale rows, strongly keeled; ventrals 160-197, subcaudals 48-86. (Leviton et al. 1992) 
CommentSynonymy partly after KHALIKOV & ANANJEVA, and K. MEBERT (pers. comm.). N. t. heinrothi has been synonymized with N. tesselata as its characters fall within the variation of the latter (Gruschwitz et al. 1999).

Distribution: Not in Yemen nor in France (K. Mebert, pers. comm., 27 Oct 20); Occurrence in Pakistan doubtful according to KHAN (2002) but documented by photos (R. Masroor & K. Mebert, pers. comm., 27 Oct 20). Not in Belgium (J. Speybroek, pers. comm., 29. Oct 2013). Map in Weiperth et al. 2014. Not in Poland fide Geniez 2018. For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013. MERTENS 1969 reported Sinonatrix dunni from West Malaysia in error. See Bar et al. 2021 for a map.

Phylogeography: see detailed study by Jablonski et al. 2023.

Activity pattern: primarily diurnal, nocturnal during warmer nights.

Habitat: terrestrial, but typically near and in freshwater, locally adapted to marine environments (e.g. in the Mediterranean).

Hybridization: N. natrix hybridizes with N. tessellata, at least in Turkey (Asztalos et al. 2022).

Variation: given its large range, there are various variants of this species, including melanistic, unpatterned, grayish and brownish or yellow-colored ones (see e.g. TUNIYEV et al. 20, Trapp 2016, Wilms 2017).

Genome: the genome of this and the 4 other species of Natrix were sequenced by Schöneberg ert al. 2023. 
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