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Rhabdophis formosanus (MAKI, 1931)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymNatrix tigrina formosana MAKI 1931
Rhabdophis tigrinus formosanus OTA & MORI 1985
Rhabdophis tigrinus formosanus OTA et al. 1999
Rhabdophis formosanus — TAKEUCHI et al. 2012
Rhabdophis formosanus — YOSHIDA et al. 2020 
TypesHolotype: NSMT H-2967 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Rhabdophis formosanus has many subcaudal (≤ 80 in males, ≤ 77 in females). Therefore, subcaudal counts could distinguish R. formosanus from R. tigrinus and R. lateralis, except the Kyushu populations of R. tigrinus with partially overlap of the ranges (Ota & Mori, 1985; Ota et al., 1999). They can be discriminated by longitudinally narrower dark blotches counts from the neck to the fiftieth ventral (BB50), which is in the range 15–20 in R. formosanus but 7–14 in the Kyushu populations of R. tigrinus (Toriba, 1992; Ota et al., 1999). Therefore, R. formosanus has the diagnosability from R. tigrinus and R. lateralis by a combination of characters (≤ 80 subcaudal in males, ≤ 77 subcaudal in females, and BB50 in both sexes). On the other hand, we have found no key characters that collectively discriminate R. lateralis from R. tigrinus. Therefore, further studies are needed to identify them. [from TAKEUCHI et al. 2012). 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality (Formosa = Taiwan) 
  • Maki, M. 1931. Monograph of the Snakes of Japan. Dai-ichi Shobo, Tokyo. (1), 7, 240 pages (expanded edition 1933)
  • Ota, H.;Mori, A. 1985. Notes on the fourth collected specimen of Rhabdophis tigrinus formosanus and the morphological features characteristic of this subspecies. Japanese Journal of Herpetology 11: 41-45 - get paper here
  • Ota, Hidetoshi, Szu-Lung Chen, Jun-Tsong Lin and Michihisa Toriba. 1999. Taxonomic status of the Taiwanese population of Rhabdophis tigrinus (Squamata: Colubridae): Morphological and karyological assessement. Japanese Journal of Herpetology 18 (1): 1-6 - get paper here
  • TAKEUCHI, HIROHIKO; HIDETOSHI OTA FLS,, HONG-SHIK OH and TSUTOMU HIKIDA 2012. Extensive genetic divergence in the East Asian natricine snake, Rhabdophis tigrinus (Serpentes: Colubridae), with special reference to prominent geographical differentiation of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene in Japanese populations. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 105, 395–408 - get paper here
  • Yoshida, Tatsuya; Rinako Ujiie, View ORCID ProfileAlan H. Savitzky, Teppei Jono, Takato Inoue, Naoko Yoshinaga, Shunsuke Aburaya, Wataru Aoki, Hirohiko Takeuchi, Li Ding, Qin Chen, Chengquan Cao, Tein-Shun Tsai, Anslem de Silva, Dharshani Mahaulpatha 2020. Dramatic dietary shift maintains sequestered toxins in chemically defended snakes. PNAS 117 (11) 5964-5969 - get paper here
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