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Rhabdops aquaticus GIRI, DEEPAK, CAPTAIN & GOWER, 2017

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Water Rhabdops, Aquatic Rhabdops 
SynonymRhabdops aquaticus GIRI, DEEPAK, CAPTAIN & GOWER 2017 
DistributionIndia (S Maharashtra, N Karnataka), elevation 750–1000 m.

Type locality: Amboli, Sindudurg district, Maharashtra, India (15.955801° N, 73.997517° E; 745 m)  
TypesHolotype: NCBS AU163 (Figs. 3, 4), mature female, collected by Varad B. Giri, Swapnil Pawar and Akshay Khandekar on 15.vii.2015. Paratypes (n = 7). All males. Heads figured in Fig. 5. BNHS 1724, Koyna, Satara District, Maharashtra, P.W. Soman, 1.xi.1962; BNHS 3234, Humbarli, Koyna, Satara District, Maharashtra (N 17.410446, E73.726732, 940 m), V.B. Giri, 18.ix.2003; BNHS 3235, Humbarli, Koyna, Satara District, Maharashtra, I. Agarwal, V.B. Giri, I. Kehimkar, 13.vii.2004; BNHS 3347, Amboli, Sindhudurg District, Maharashtra, S.A. Chougule, ii.1986; BNHS 3509 and 3510, Amboli, Sindhudurg District, Maharashtra, V.B. Giri, ix.2009; NCBS AU162, Baraki, Kolhapur District, Maharashtra (N 16.748433, E 73.850155, 975 m), V.B. Giri and Swapnil Pawar, 20.viii.2014. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A Rhabdops with paired internasals and prefrontals, a mostly pale (yellow or whitish) venter with a dark, clearly demarcated irregular midventral stripe and more than 222 ventral scales. Beyond number of ventrals, pattern and colour, Rhabdops aquaticus sp. nov. differs from its most similar congener, R. olivaceus, also in nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences. See below for a detailed account of colour and pattern differences. 
CommentSimilar species: R. aquaticus sp. nov. was previously mistakenly identified as R. olivaceus.

Behavior: chiefly nocturnal; docile when handled

Habitat: in lentic or very slowly flowing water on plateaus and in forest streams; During the day R. aquaticus sp. nov was found mostly under rocks close to streams or on plateaus, or basking on exposed rocks. 
EtymologyThe species name is derived from the Latin for relating to water, aquaticus, in reference to observations of this snake often being observed in freshwater bodies. For nomenclatural purposes, the species epithet is considered a noun in apposition. 
  • GIRI, VARAD B.; V. DEEPAK, ASHOK CAPTAIN, ABHIJIT DAS, SANDEEP DAS, K. P. RAJKUMAR, R. L. RATHISH, DAVID J. GOWER 2017. A new species of Rhabdops Boulenger, 1893 (Serpentes: Natricinae) from the northern Western Ghats region of India. Zootaxa 4319 (1): 027–052 - get paper here
  • LANGNER, C. 2018. Ergänzende Beobachtungen zum Aktivitätsrhythmus und zum potentiellen Beutespektrum der indischen Wassernatter Rhabdops aquaticus sowie zum Flucht­ver­halten der Kaulquappen von Indirana cf. semipalmatus. Sauria 40 (2): 65-70 - get paper here
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