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Opisthotropis balteata (COPE, 1895)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesHainan Mountain Keelback 
SynonymTrimerodytes balteatus COPE 1895: 426
Opisthotropis balteata POPE 1935
Liparophis Bedoti PERACCA 1904: 664
Opisthotropis multicincta FAN 1931: 82
Trimerodytes balteatus — MELL 1931 [1929]
Opisthotropis balteatus — SMITH 1943: 331
Opisthotropis balteatus — BROWN & LEVITON 1961
Opisthotropis balteata — ZIEGLER et al. 2008
Opisthotropis balteata — WALLACH et al. 2014: 508
Trimerodytes balteata — REN et al. 2019: 117 
DistributionN Vietnam, China (Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong)

Type locality: Hainan Island, China.  
Reproductionoviparous. 
TypesHolotype: ANSP 11435; MCZ ? 
DiagnosisDiagnosis Trimerodytes balteatus can be diagnosed from other morphologically similar species by a combination of the following characters: (1) body cylindrical, TL 604–1 021 mm; (2) tail relatively moderate, TaL/TL 0.15–0.24; (3) head moderately distinct from neck; (4) nostrils directed dorsolaterally; (5) eyes moderate, EW/ SoL 0.86–1.38; (6) maxillary teeth mostly 16–19, slightly enlarged posteriorly, without diastema; (7) dorsal scale rows 19-19-17; (8) prefrontal single, spindle-shaped; (9) supralabials 9–10, usually 4th or 5th entering orbit; (10) ventrals 187–205; (11) dorsal scales smooth anteriorly, smooth or feebly keeled at midbody, tending to be moderately keeled rear body and on tail, outer most three or four dorsal scale rows along both sides of body smooth entirely before cloaca; (12) body brownish-red or brownish-yellow, encircled by 32–54 black bands with yellow centers, 13–28 present on tail; (13) venter yellowish-beige, with annulated or alternating black bands (Figures 2A, 3D, 4, 5A–B; Tables 3–4 in Ren et al. 2019).

Comparison Trimerodytes balteatus can be readily distinguished from other species of Trimerodytes by having a single prefrontal (vs. paired prefrontals), and a higher number of ventral scale count (187–205 vs. less than 170). In addition, T. balteatus differs from T. yunnanensis by having a lower number of maxillary teeth [16–19 (25?) vs. 31–35] and a different dorsal color pattern (body annulated by transverse markings vs. crossed by X-shaped markings); from T. aequifasciatus by having a moderately distinct head (vs. distinct) and a higher number of trunk markings (32–54 vs. 22–28); from T. percarinatus by having moderately keeled dorsal scales at midbody (vs. strongly keeled throughout) and the presence of labial sutures (vs. absent). Lastly, T. balteatus differs from its sister species, T. annularis, in having a different head color pattern (black streaks present on dorsal surface vs. absent) and a different background color of ventral surface (uniformly yellowish vs. red or reddish-orange).
From other natricine taxa that have single prefrontal, T. balteatus differs from the genus Isanophis by its head moderately distinct from neck (vs. well distinct), eye size moderate (vs. large), and moderately keeled posterior dorsal scales (vs. strongly keeled throughout); from the genus Opisthotropis see above; from the genus Trachischium by having a different dorsal scale formula (19-19-17 vs. 13 or 15 throughout), a different maxillary condition (maxillary teeth enlarged posteriorly vs. subequal), and head moderately distinct from neck (vs. indistinct); from Hebius annamensis (Bourret, 1934) by having 19 rows of dorsal scales at the midbody (vs. 15 or 17), a lower number of subcaudals (65–102 vs. 116–146), and a higher number of ventrals (187–205 vs. 158–172); from Rhabdops bicolor by having paired internasals (vs. single), and a higher number of supralabials (9–10 vs. 5) (Table 6 in Ren et la. 2019). 
CommentHabitat: aquatic, inhabiting flowing streams.

Diet: fishes, frogs, tadpoles, freshwater shrimp and earthworms.

Behavior: nocturnal

Type species: Trimerodytes balteatus COPE 1895: 426 is the type species of the genus Trimerodytes COPE 1895. Trimerodytes was resurrected from the synonymy of Opisthotropis as a senior synonym of Sinonatrix (which was synonymized with Trimerodytes by Ren et al. 2019).

Distribution: not in Cambodia fide Ren et al. 2019. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet, balteatus, is a Latin adjective that means girded or belted. The term may be used to describe the distinctive annulated markings of this species. 
References
  • Brown,W.C. & Leviton,A.E. 1961. Discovery of the snake genus Opisthotropis in the Philippine Islands, with description of a new species. Occasional Papers of the Natural History Museum of Stanford University (8): 1-11
  • Cope, E.D. 1895. On a collection of Batrachia and Reptilia from the Island of Hainan. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia XLVI [1894]: 423-428 - get paper here
  • DAVID, PATRICK; CUONG THE PHAM, TRUONG QUANG NGUYEN & THOMAS ZIEGLER 2011. A new species of the genus Opisthotropis Günther, 1872 (Squamata: Natricidae) from the highlands of Kon Tum Province, Vietnam. Zootaxa 2758: 43–56 - get paper here
  • Fan, TSANG-HOW. 1931. Preliminary report of reptiles from Yashan, Kwangsi, China. Bull. Dept. Biol. Coll. Sci. Sun Yatsen Univ., Canton, 11 (4): 1-154 - get paper here
  • LI, Cao, LIU, Qin and GUO, Peng 2010. Expanded Description of a Chinese Endemic Snake Opisthotropis cheni (Serpentes: Colubridae: Natricinae). Asian Herpetological Research 1 (1): 57-60 - get paper here
  • Mell,R. 1931. List of Chinese snakes. Lingnan Sci. Jour., Canton, 8 [1929]: 199-219.
  • Nguyen, S.V., Ho, C.T. and Nguyen, T.Q. 2009. Herpetofauna of Vietnam. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 768 pp.
  • Peracca, M. G. 1904. Nouvelles espèces d’Ophidiens d’Asie et d’Amerique, faisant partie de la collection du Museum d’histoire naturelle de Genève. Revue Suisse de Zoologie 12: 663-668 - get paper here
  • REN, Jinlong; Kai WANG, Peng GUO, Yingyong WANG, Tao Thien NGUYEN, and Jiatang LI 2019. On the Generic Taxonomy of Opisthotropis balteata (Cope, 1895) (Squamata: Colubridae: Natricinae): Taxonomic Revision of Two Natricine Genera. Asian Herpetological Research 10(2): 105–128; DOI: 10.16373/j.cnki.ahr.180091 - 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.
  • Steindachner, F. 1906. Bemerkungen zu Liparophis bedoti Perr. und Lachesis monticola (Gthr.). Sitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Wien , math.-natur-wiss. Kl. 115: 905—909 - get paper here
  • TEYNIÉ, ALEXANDRE; ANNE LOTTIER, PATRICK DAVID, TRUONG QUANG NGUYEN & GERNOT VOGEL 2014. A new species of the genus Opisthotropis Günther, 1872 from northern Laos (Squamata: Natricidae). Zootaxa 3774 (2): 165–182 - 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.
  • YANG, JIAN-HUAN; YIK-HEI SUNG & BOSCO PUI-LOK CHAN 2013. A new species of the genus Opisthotropis Günther, 1872 (Squamata: Colubridae: Natricinae) from Guangdong Province, China. Zootaxa 3646 (3): 289–296 - get paper here
  • YANG, JIAN-HUAN; YING-YONG WANG, BING ZHANG, MICHAEL WAI-NENG LAU & WEN-HAO CHOU 2011. Revision of the diagnostic characters of Opisthotropis maculosa Stuart and Chuaynkern, 2007 with notes on its distribution and variation, and a key to the genus Opisthotropis (Squamata: Natricidae). Zootaxa 2785: 61–68 - 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.
  • Zhao,E. & Adler,K. 1993. Herpetology of China. SSAR, Oxford/Ohio, 1-522
  • Ziegler, Thomas; Patrick David, Vu Ngoc Thanh 2008. A new natricine snake of the genus Opisthotropis from Tam Dao, Vinh Phuc Province, northern Vietnam (Squamata, Colubridae). Zoosystematics and Evolution 84 (2): 197 -203
 
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