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Rhabdophis hmongorum KANE, TAPLEY, LA & NGUYEN,, 2023

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: H’mong keelback’
Vietnamese: ‘Rắn hoa cỏ H’mông’ 
SynonymRhabdophis hmongorum KANE, TAPLEY, LA & NGUYEN 2023
Rhabdophis sp. — CHE et al. 2020 
DistributionVietnam (Lao Cai)

Type locality: Mount Fansipan, Hoang Lien National Park, Sa Pa District, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam (22.320588 N, 103.770308 E, 2602 m elevation; Fig. 8 in Kane et al. 2023)  
TypesHolotype. ITBCZ 3616 (Field tag LNT 0562), a male specimen (Figs. 1–7), collected by Chang A Sung and Pao A Vang on June 28, 2022, at 1300 hrs as it moved close to a shallow stream in disturbed secondary forest. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis and identification. The new species is assigned to the genus Rhabdophis based on the following morphological traits: two enlarged maxillary teeth, not preceded by a diastema, positioned at the rear of the bone (Fig.3 A–B); head distinct from neck; nostrils directed laterally; typical generic arrangement of nine dorsal cephalic scales; internasal scales truncated on anterior edge; eye relatively large with rounded pupil; anal scale divided.
Rhabdophis hmongorum sp. nov. differs from its congeners by a unique combination of the following characters: (1) 17-17-15 dorsal scale rows; (2) ventral scales 151; (3) subcaudal scales 59; (4) nostrils located laterally on head; (5) internasal scales truncated anteriorly; (6) nuchal groove present; no enlarged nuchal scales; (7) subcaudal scales paired; (8) first row of body scales smooth from head to neck, becoming progressively more keeled toward the tail; (9) dorsal scales keeled, with uppermost 5 rows strongly keeled; (10) posterior two maxillary teeth enlarged, not preceded by a diastema; (11) maxillary tooth count 25 (23+2); (12) short and bilobed hemipenes, extending to 13th subcaudal scale, with spines on both lobes and at base. (Kane et al. 2023) 
EtymologyThe specific name is a patronym for the H’Mong people, an ethnic minority people in the northwest montane regions of Vietnam. Their assistance made it possible for Kane et al. to collect the type specimen of the new species in the montane forest of Lao Cai Province, northwest Vietnam. 
  • KANE, D., TAPLEY, B., VAN LA, T. O. I., & NGUYEN, L. T. 2023. A new species of the genus Rhabdophis Fitzinger, 1843 (Squamata: Colubridae) from the Hoang Lien range, northwest Vietnam. Zootaxa 5343(2): 101-125
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