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Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus (JAN, 1862)

IUCN Red List - Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Palestine Kukri Snake
G: Schwarzkopf-Zwergnatter, Schwarzkopfnatter 
SynonymHomalosoma melanocephalum JAN 1862: 34
Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus — GÜNTHER 1865: 491
Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus — ENGELMANN et al 1993
Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus — VENCHI & SINDACO 2006
Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 654 
DistributionE Turkey, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Egypt (Sinai), Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Soviet Union (Caucasus), Armenia, Azerbaijan

Type locality: Beirut, Lebanon  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesLectotype, MHNG 1246.77 (designated by WALLACH et al. 2014: 654, without any further explanation; V. Wallach, pers. comm., 29 Aug 2016, provided the following additional details: “Jan described Homalosoma melanocephala in 1862, based on 3 specimens (Milan, 189V + 56SC; Geneva, 202V + 55SC; Monaco, 210V + 68SC) from Beirut, Syria.  Günther, in 1864, erected Rhynchocalamus (and the species R. melanocephalus) based on a specimen (London, 218V + 54SC) from Merom, Israel.  The BMNH specimen is a holotype but Günther's name is a synonym of Jan's name.  We selected the lectotype of Jan's name (as there were 3 syntypes in the original description) based on his illustration of it in the Jan & Sordelli atlas”.) Günther’s holotype (BMNH 1946.1.3.29, from Merom in Israel) is invalid as his name is a synonym of Jan’s name. 
CommentSubspecies: Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus satunini NIKOLSKY 1899 has been elevated to full species status by ŠMÍD et al. 2015.

Distribution: Reports from the area of the former Yugoslavia are apparently in error; not in Iraq fide Habeeb & Rastegar-Pouyani 2016. See map in ŠMÍD et al. 2015: 382.

Type species: Homalosoma melanocephalum JAN 1862: 34 is the type species of the genus Rhynchocalamus GÜNTHER 1865.

Behavior (genus): fossorial snakes that are mostly nocturnal but can also be found active during the day.

Habitat: Rhynchocalamus snakes prefer humid areas with little vegetation and are found in mountainous areas, on heavy soils but not on sand. They are also known from arid and stony steppes, sparsely vegetated rocky slopes and wadis.

Diet: predominantly small insects such as ants, crickets and locusts (Disi et al., 2001). 
References
  • Al-Quran, S. 2009. The Herpetofauna of the Southern Jordan. American-Eurasian J. Agric. & Environ. Sci., 6 (4): 385-391 [this journal has a dubious record, see http://goo.gl/81SBPv]
  • Ananjeva, NB, Orlov NL; Khalikov RG; Darevsky IS; Ryabov IS & Barabanov AV 2006. The Reptiles of North Eurasia. Taxonomic Diversity, Distribution, Conservation Status [this comprises the territory of the former Soviet Union and Mongolia]. Pensoft Series Faunistica 47, 250 pp.
  • Arakelyan, Marine S.; Felix D. Danielyan, Claudia Corti, Roberto Sindaco, and Alan E. Leviton 2011. The Herpetofauna of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. SSAR, Salt Lake City, 154 pp. [ISBN: 978-0-916984-84-7.]
  • AVCI, A. & ILGAZ, Ç. & KUMLUTAS, Y. & OLGUN, K. & BARAN, I. 2007. Morphology and distribution of Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus (NIKOLSKY, 1899) in Turkey [Short Note]. Herpetozoa 20 - get paper here
  • Avci, A., Dinçaslan, Y.E., Ilgaz, Ç. & Üzüm, N. 2008. Contributions to the distribution and morphology of Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus melanocephalus (Jan 1862) (Reptilia, Colubridae) in Turkey. North-Western Journal of Zoology 4 (1): 161-166 - get paper here
  • Avcı, Aziz; Çetin Ilgaz, Mahdi Rajabizadeh, Can Yılmaz, Nazan Üzüm, Dominique Adriaens, Yusuf Kumlutaş, Kurtuluş Olgun 2015. Molecular Phylogeny and Micro CT-Scanning Revealed Extreme Cryptic Biodiversity in Kukri Snake, Muhtarophis gen. nov., a New Genus for Rhynchocalamus barani (Serpentes: Colubridae) Russ. J. Herpetol. 22 (3): 159-174
  • Baha el Din, S. 2006. A guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo. xvi + 359 pp.
  • Bar, Aviad and Guy Haimovitch 2012. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Israel. Pazbar LTD, 246 pp. - get paper here
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  • Boettger, O. [as O. Böttger] 1880. Die Reptilien und Amphibien von Syrien, Palaestina und Cypern. Ber. Senckenb. Naturforsch. Ges., Frankfurt/M., 1879-1880: 132-219 - get paper here
  • Corkill, N. L. and Cochrane, J. A. 1966. The snakes of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra. J. Bombay nat. Hist. Soc. 62 (3): 475-506 (1965) - get paper here
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  • Darevsky, I. S. 1970. Systematic status of Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus satunini Nik. (Serpentes, Colubridae) previously included in the genus Oligodon. Zool. Zhurnal 49: 1685-1690.
  • Disi, A.M.; Modry, D.; Necas, P. & Rifai, L. 2001. Amphibians and reptiles of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 408 pp.
  • Egan, D. 2007. Snakes of Arabia. Motivate Publishing, Dubai, 208 pp.
  • Engelmann,W.E. et al. 1993. Lurche und Kriechtiere Europas. Neumann Verlag (Radebeul, Germany), 440 pp.
  • Esterbauer,H. 1985. Zur Herpetofauna Südwestsyriens. Herpetofauna 7 (38): 23-34 - get paper here
  • Franzen M; Bischoff W 1995. Erstnachweis von Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus melanocephalus für die Turkei. Salamandra 31 (2): 107-122 - get paper here
  • Gasperetti,J. 1988. Snakes of Arabia. Fauna of Saudi Arabia 9: 169-450
  • Goldberg, S.R. & Maza, E. 2017. Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus (Palestine Kukri Snake) Reproduction. Herpetological Review 48 (3): 682-683.
  • Günther,A. 1864. Report on a collection of reptiles and fishes from Palestine. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1864: 488-493 - get paper here
  • Hraoui-Bloquet, S.; Sadek, R.A.; Sindaco, R. & Venchi, A. 2002. The herpetofauna of Lebanon: new data on distribution. Zoology in the Middle East 27: 35-46 - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1862. Enumerazione sistematico delle specie d'ofidi del gruppo Calamaridae. Arch. Zool., Anat. Fisiol., 2: 1-76. - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1865. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 13. Livraison. [Homalosoma mite]. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Leviton,A.E.; Anderson,S.C.; Adler, K.; Minton,S.A. 1992. Handbook to Middle East Amphibians and Reptiles. SSAR, Oxford, Ohio (Contr. to Herpetol. No. 8), 1-252
  • Nikolsky, A. M. 1899. Contia statunini n. sp., and Agama ruderata Oliv., from Transcaucasia [in Russian]. Annuaire Musée Zoologique de l’Académie Impériale des Sciences de St.-Pétersbourg, 4: 449-451 - get paper here
  • Olgun, K.; Avci, A. Ilgaz, C.; Üzüm, N. & Yilmaz, C. 2007. A new species of Rhynchocalamus (Reptilia: Serpentes: Colubridae) from Turkey. Zootaxa 1399: 57–68 - get paper here
  • RASTEGAR-POUYANI, NASRULLAH; HAJI GHOLI KAMI, MEHDI RAJABZADEH, SOHEILA SHAFIEI AND STEVEN CLEMENT ANDERSON 2008. Annotated Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles of Iran. Iranian Journal of Animal Biosystematics 4 (1): 7-30
  • Reed, Charles A. & Marx, Hymen 1959. A herpetological collection from Northeastern Iraq. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 62 (1): 91-122 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P. 1933. A new snake (Rhynchocalamus arabicus) from Arabia. Zoological Series of Field Museum of Natural History 20: 9-10 - get paper here
  • Schmidt,K.P. 1939. Reptiles and amphibians from Southwestern Asia. Publ. Field Mus. nat. Hist., zool. Ser., 24: 49-92 - get paper here
  • ŠMÍD, JIŘÍ; GABRIEL MARTÍNEZ, JURGEN GEBHART, JAVIER AZNAR, JAVIER GÁLLEGO, BAYRAM GÖÇMEN, PHILIP DE POUS, KARIN TAMAR & SALVADOR CARRANZA 2015. Phylogeny of the genus Rhynchocalamus (Reptilia; Colubridae) with a first record from the Sultanate of Oman Zootaxa 4033 (3): 380–392
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
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  • Werner,Y.L. 1988. Herpetofaunal survey of Israel (1950-1985), with comments on Sinai and Jordan and on zoogeographical heterogeneity. in: Yom-Tov,Y. & Tchernov, E. (eds.) The zoogeography of Israel, Dr. W. Junk Publishers, Dordrecht (Netherlands); ISBN 90-6193-650-0
 
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