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Rhabdophis leonardi (WALL, 1923)

IUCN Red List - Rhabdophis leonardi - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Leonard's Keelback
Chinese: 缅甸颈槽蛇 
SynonymNatrix leonardi WALL 1923
Natrix nivalis SCHMIDT 1925: 3
Tropidonotus nuchalis var. collaris VOGT 1927
Natrix swinhonis leonardi — MELL 1931 [1929]
Natrix swinhonis reducta MELL 1931
Natrix swinhonis leonardi — RENDAHL 1937
Rhabdophis leonardi — JIANG & ZHAO 1983
Elaphe leonardi — MCDOWELL & JENNER 1988
Elaphe leonardi — DAS & CHATURVEDI 1998
Rhabdophis leonardi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 635 
DistributionMyanmar (= Burma), Laos (Xiangkhoang),
China (Yunnan, Xizang = Tibet, SW Sichuan), Vietnam (Lao Cai)

Type locality: “Sinlum Kaba, Burma, Lat. 24’’ Long 97° at an elevation of 6,000 feet” = mountains east of Bhamo, Kachin State, at approximately 24.24–24.26oN, 97.50E, fide Yang et al. 2023.  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.12.86 (formerly BMNH 1923.10.13.39), erroneously reported as BNHS = BNHM 466 by previous authors which is actually Coluber leonhardi = Archelaphe bella (see Yang et al. 2023 for a discussion. 
CommentSome species of this genus are venomous although we do not have information about this particular species.

Synonymy: partly fide Nguyen & David 2023 who moved Natrix nivalis and collaris from the synonymy of R. nuchalis to the synonymy of R. leonardi. They consider the synonymy of Natrix swinhonis reducta as uncertain.

MCDOWELL & JENNER 1988 gave the year of description as 1921.

Diet: earthworms and firefly larva (Yoshida et al. 2020).

Similar species: R. nuchalis. 
EtymologyNamed after P. M. R. Leonard, a member of the Burma Frontier Service, who collected the holotype. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boilstone, Mark 1993. The colubrid snakes of Laos. Litteratura Serpentium 13 (3): 74-82
  • Das, Indraneil;Chaturvedi, Naresh 1998. Catalogue of the herpetological types in the collection of the Bombay Natural History Society. Hamadryad 23 (2): 150-156 - get paper here
  • Dowling, H.G., & Jenner, J.V. 1988. Snakes of Burma: checklist of reported species and bibliography. Smithsonian Herp. Inf. Serv. (76): 19 pp. - get paper here
  • Jiang, YAO-MING, and ER-MI ZHAO. 1983. Studies on amphibians and reptiles of Mt. Gongga region, Sichuan, China. 3. A study of species-group nuchalis, genus Rhabdophis [in Chinese]. Acta Herpetol. Sinica, Chengdu, [new ser.], 2 (1): 59-62 - get paper here
  • Lottier, Anne & Patrick David. 2021. Deux espèces nouvelles pour la faune des serpents du Laos. Bull. Soc. Herp. Fr. 179: 05-10 - get paper here
  • Mell,R. 1931. List of Chinese snakes. Lingnan Sci. Jour., Canton, 8 [1929]: 199-219.
  • Orlov, N. L., S. A. Ryabov, N. Van Sang and N. Q. Truong 2003. New records and data on the poorly known snakes of Vietnam. Russ. J. Herpetol. 10: 217-240 - get paper here
  • Qin, L., Bin, L., Xinhong, X., Yangmei, Z., & Peng, G. 2023. Genomic evidence sheds new light on phylogeny of Rhabdophis nuchalis (sensu lato) complex (Serpentes: Natricidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 107893 - get paper here
  • Rendahl,H. 1937. Beiträge zur Herpetologie von Birma. Arkiv för Zoologi 29A (10): 1-29
  • Schulz, K.D. 1992. Die hinterasiatischen Kletternattern der Gattung Elaphe. Teil XXI Elaphe leonardi (WALL 1921). Sauria 14 (1): 11-13 - get paper here
  • Wall, FRANK 1923. Notes on a collection of snakes from Sinlum Kaba. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 29 (2): 466-468. - 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.
  • 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
  • Wang, Kai; Jinlong Ren, Hongman Chen, Zhitong Lyu, Xianguang Guo Ke Jiang, Jinmin Chen, Jiatang Li, Peng Guo, Yingyong Wang, Jing Che 2020. The updated checklists of amphibians and reptiles of China. Biodiversity Science 28 (2): 189-218 - get paper here
  • Yang, J.-H., X.-Y. Huang, J.-F. Ye, S.-P. Yang, X.-.C. Zhang & B.P.-L. Chan 2019. A report on the herpetofauna of Tengchong Section of Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve, China. Journal of Threatened Taxa 11(11): 14434–14451 - get paper here
  • Yang, S. J., Savitzky, A. H., Gower, D. J., Deepak, V., Mori, A., Khot, R., ... & Zhu, G. X. 2023. Identity of the holotype and type locality of Rhabdophis leonardi (Wall, 1923)(Colubridae: Natricinae), with notes on the morphology and natural history of the species in southwestern China. Ecology and Evolution, 13(5), e10032
  • 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
  • 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
  • ZHU, GUANG-XIANG; YING-YONG WANG,HIROHIKO TAKEUCHI & ER-MI ZHAO 2014. A new species of the genus Rhabdophis Fitzinger, 1843 (Squamata: Colubridae) from Guangdong Province, southern China. Zootaxa 3765 (5): 469–480 - get paper here
  • ZHU, GUANGXIANG; SHIJUN YANG, ALAN H. SAVITZKY, YUQI CHENG, AKIRA MORI, LI DING, DINGQI RAO & QIN WANG. 2022. Cryptic diversity and phylogeography of the Rhabdophis nuchalis group (Squamata: Colubridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 166(107325). - get paper here
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