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Rhabdophis helleri (SCHMIDT, 1925)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Heller’s Red-necked Keelback
G: Heller-Rothals-Wassernatter
Chinese: 红脖颈槽蛇 
SynonymNatrix helleri SCHMIDT 1925: 3
Natrix subminiata helleri — MELL 1931 [1929]
Rhabdophis subminiatus helleri — BOURRET 1935: 4
Natrix subminiata helleri — RENDAHL 1937
Rhabdophis subminiatus var. helleri — DEUVE 1961: 14
Rhabdophis subminiata helleri — TAYLOR 1965
Rhabdophis subminiatus helleri — ZHAO et al. 1986
Rhabdophis subminiatus helleri — NGUYEN et al. 2009
Rhabdophis helleri — LIU et al. 2021
Rhabdophis helleri — DAVID & VOGEL 2021 
DistributionChina (Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Fujian, Hong Kong, Sichuan, Guizhou), N Vietnam, Myanmar, India (Assam ?, Mizoram, Sikkim; Arunachal Pradesh [A. Captain, pers. comm.], Tripura), Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal

Type locality: Tengyueh, 5500 feet elevation, Province of
Yunnan, China, 25°01'N, 98°30'E.  
TypesHolotype: AMNH 20149, paratype: FMNH 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSIS. Closely allied to Natrix subminiata of Java and southeastern Asia, from which it is distinguished by a higher number of ventral scales,163-172,compared with132-157 in subminiata as here restricted.
Dorsal scale rows 19, the outer smooth, the median rows sharply keeled; ventrals 163-172; anal divided; caudals 75-86; upper labials 7-9, three entering the eye; a single preocular; three postoculars; temporals 2-2; general color uniform olive, with reddish markings on the neck, chiefly confined to the skin between the scales (Schmidt 1925: 3). 
CommentVenomous. Can inflict serious coagulopathic envenoming but, unlike its congener R. tigrinus, has not caused any human fatalities (Weinstein 2017).

Behavior: diurnal.

Distribution: For a map see David & Vogel 2021: 110 (Fig. 9). 
EtymologyNamed after Edmund Heller (1875-1939), American zoologist and ornithologist. 
  • Bourret,R. 1935. Notes herpétologiques sur l'Indochine Française X. Les serpents de la station d’altitude du Tam-dao. Bull. Gen. Instr. Pub. Hanoi 8 (avril): 259-271 (1-13)
  • David, Patrick & Gernot Vogel 2021. TAXONOMIC COMPOSITION OF THE Rhabdophis subminiatus (SCHLEGEL, 1837) SPECIES COMPLEX (REPTILIA: NATRICIDAE) WITH THE DESCRIPTION OF A NEW SPECIES FROM CHINA. Taprobanica 10 (2): 89–120 - get paper here
  • Deuve, J. 1961. Liste annotee des Serpents du Laos. Bull. Soc. Sci. Nat. Laos 1:5-32.
  • Dutta, Sourav, Debajit Mahanta, Tilak Kumar Pradhan, Hirakjyoti Das & Monish Kumar Thapa. 2022. Caudal pseudoautotomy in Heller’s Red-necked Keelbacks, Rhabdophis helleri (Schmidt 1925). Reptiles & Amphibians 29(1): 212–213. - get paper here
  • Liu, Q., Xie, X., Wu, Y., Shu, G., Guo, K., Guo, P. and Cui, L. 2021. High genetic divergence but low morphological differences in a keelback snake Rhabdophis subminiatus (Reptilia, Colubridae). J Zool Syst Evol Res - get paper here
  • Mahananda, P., S.N. Jelil, S.C. Bohra, N. Mahanta, R.B. Saikia & J. Purkayastha 2023. Terrestrial vertebrate and butterfly diversity of Garbhanga Landscape, Assam, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 15(4): 23029–23046 - get paper here
  • Malsawmdawngliana, B. Boruah, N.G. Patel, S. Lalronunga, I. Zosangliana, K. Lalhmangaiha & A. Das 2022. An updated checklist of reptiles from Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram, India, with sixteen new distribution records. Journal of Threatened Taxa 14(10): 21946–21960 - 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.
  • Rendahl,H. 1937. Beiträge zur Herpetologie von Birma. Arkiv för Zoologi 29A (10): 1-29
  • Schmidt, KARL P. 1925. New reptiles and a new salamander from China. American Museum Novitates (157): 1-5. - get paper here
  • Taylor,E.H. 1965. The serpents of Thailand and adjacent waters. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 45 (9): 609-1096 - get paper here
  • Wang K, Lyu ZT, Wang J, Qi S, Che J 2022. Updated Checklist and Zoogeographic Division of the Reptilian Fauna of Yunnan Province, China. Biodiversity Science 30 (4): 21326, 1–31 - get paper here
  • Zhao, E.; Liu, X.; Kang, S. 1986. Five snake species new to Sichuan [in Chinese]. Acta Herpetologica Sinica 5 (2): 157 - get paper here
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