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Rhadinella godmani (GÜNTHER, 1865)

IUCN Red List - Rhadinella godmani - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesRhadinella godmani godmani (GÜNTHER 1865)
Rhadinella godmani zilchi (MERTENS 1952) 
Common NamesE: Godman's Graceful Brown Snake
S: Lagartijerita de Gadman 
SynonymDromicus godmanni [sic] GÜNTHER 1865: 94
Rhadinaea godmani — COPE 1876: 139
Coronella godmani GÜNTHER 1893: 110 (justified emendation)
Rhadinaea altamontana TAYLOR 1954 (fide VILLA et al. 1988)
Rhadinaea binfordi ROSSMAN 1965
Rhadinaea godmani — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 265
Rhadinaea godmani — MYERS 1974: 122
Rhadinaea godmani — LINER 1994
Rhadinaea godmani — LINER 2007
Rhadinella godmani — MYERS 2011
Rhadinella godmani — WALLACH et al. 2014: 642

Rhadinaea godmani zilchi MERTENS 1952
Rhadinaea zilchi MERTENS 1952: 92
Rhadinaea godmani zilchi — MERTENS 1952: 70
Rhadinaea godmani zilchi — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 265
Rhadinella godmani zilchi — MYERS 2011 (by implication) 
DistributionSE Mexico (Chiapas, Oaxaca), Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, (elevation 1450-2160 m), El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama

Type locality: Dueñas, [Departamento de Sacatepequez], Guatemala.

zilchi: El Salvador; Type locality: Lagua de Las Ninfas, 1630 m. elevaion, Dept. Sonsonate.  
TypesLectotype: BMNH 1946.1.9.17
Holotype: SMF 43175, male [zilchi] 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSIS: Rhadinaea godmani is almost always distinguishable from all of its congeners by the presence of 21-21-21 dorsal scales, a higher number than found elsewhere in the genus. The species is likely to be confused in this regard only with the geographically adjacent (possibly sympatric in Chiapas) R. hempsteadae; some specimens of hempsteadae have 19-21-19 scale rows instead of the usual 19-19-19 rows, and one specimen of godmani has 19-21-1 7 rows. Color patterns and other features are not identical, but there is sufficient variational overlap between godmani and hempsteadae so that specimens with aberrant scale counts are best assigned on the basis of geographic range if possible. The body pattern of most Costa Rican specimens of godmani is virtually identical with that of individuals from possibly sympatric populations of R. serperaster, which is most easily differentiated from southern godmani in seemingly constant differences in number of dorsal scales (19-19-19 in serperaster) (Myers 1974: 123).

COLOR IN LIFE: Color notes on living Rhadinaea godmani are available only for some specimens from the southern part of the range. A male (KU 75748) from western Panama had the head and dorsal ground color dull brown, whereas the ground color was pale tan on the sides of the body, except on the first scale row which was pale yellow between the dark lines. The supralabials were basically white, with a pink suffusion, except that the lower edges of labials 5 and 6 were pale yellow. The underside of the head was pale yellow and the rest of the venter was a uniform bright yellow. The iris was tan, with brown mottling and with a narrow ring of reddish brown around the pupil. A Costa Rican specimen (USC 2983, the adult female in this series) was noted by me to have a black tongue, with the distal half of the tips being white. The venter of this individual was gold colored, uniformly so when the specimen was first received in my laboratory, but irregular patches turned white for a period of several weeks before it died; by the time of death, the golden color had disappeared from about one-third of the total subcaudal surface and from about onesixth of the belly. Two additional male specimens from Costa Rica did not have such bright venters as judged from the following notes: One individual had a cream venter, and was dull brown above and dull yellowish tan between the dark lines on the sides (W. E. Duellman, field notes for KU 63865). Another specimen, the holotype of R. altamontana, had a yellowish cream venter and yellowish cream and cream labial markings; the head was blackish above and the body ground color was brownish, except for "a more or less continuous cream stripe on outer scale row." (Taylor, 1954, p. 742). The notes above show that adults of this species may have either bright yellow or whitish ( cream) ventral surfaces. Those individuals with yellow venters possibly obtain the bright coloration through ontogenetic change. A male and a female hatchling with nearly white venters came from eggs laid by a snake having a gold-colored ventral surface (USC 2983, see above); the undersides of the heads of the hatchlings were white, turning a very pale greenish yellow posteriorly, with a tinge of orange along the ventrolateral edges. The coloration of these young snakes was otherwise not strikingly different from that of the mother. The juveniles had the body brown dorsally and orangish tan laterally, with black striping. Four spots (the broken collar) on the neck were pale orange. The head was black, with inconspicuous tan speckling; the paired parietal dots were tan and inconspicuous in one individual, and slightly larger and white in the other. The snout was orangish tan, turning black on the lower half of the rostral plate. Conspicuous white spots tended to form a horizontal stripe on the supralabials. The iris was light brown; the tongue was black, with the distal thirds of the tips being white (Myers 1974: 126). 
CommentSynonymy and subspecies after PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970, MYERS 1974, and VILLA et al. 1988. 
EtymologyNamed after Dr. Frederick du Cane Godman (1834-1919), a British naturalist who compiled the Biologia Centrali Americana with his friend Osbert Salvin. 
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  • Cope, E.D. 1875. On the Batrachia and Reptilia of Costa Rica with notes on the herpetology and ichthyology of Nicaragua and Peru. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia N.S. (2) 8: 93-183 [sometimes said to be published 1876 but see Murphy et al. 2007 for clarification]] - get paper here
  • Guerra Centeno, Dennis; Héctor Fuentes Rousselin & David Morán Villatoro 2012. Serpientes de Guatemala: Guía para didentificación de especies. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, 186 pp.
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  • Mata-Silva, Vicente, Jerry D. Johnson, Larry David Wilson and Elí García-Padilla. 2015. The herpetofauna of Oaxaca, Mexico: composition, physiographic distribution, and conservation status. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (1): 6–62 - get paper here
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  • Mendelson, J.R. & D.A. Kizirian 1995. Geographic variation in Rhadinaea hempsteadae (Serpentes: Colubridae) with the description of a new species from Chiapas, Mexico. Herpetologica 51 (3): 301-313. - get paper here
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