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Sonora mutabilis STICKEL, 1943

IUCN Red List - Sonora mutabilis - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Common NamesE: Michoacán Ground Snake
S: Culebra de Tierra Mexicana 
SynonymSonora michoacanensis mutabilis STICKEL 1943
Sonora aequalis SMITH & TAYLOR 1945 (fdie COX et al. 2012)
Sonora michoacanensis mutabilis — ZWEIFEL 1959
Sonora mutabilis — PONCE-CAMPOS et al. 2004
Sonora mutabilis — LINER 2007
Sonora mutabilis — COX et al. 2012
Sonora mutabilis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 681
Sonora mutabilis — COX et al. 2018 
DistributionMexico (Jalisco, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, southern Zacatecas, S Sinaloa)

Type locality: Magdalena, Jalisco.

Type locality (aequalis): Originally given as ‘Matagalpa, Nicaragua’ (Stickel, 1943), later concluded to be ‘within or somewhat to the east of the ranges of mutabilis and michoacanensis, on the southern part of the Mexican plateau or in the surrounding mountains’ (Stickel, 1943; Echternacht, 1973).  
TypesHolotype: FMNH 105297, paratypes FMNH 105296, BMNH (NHMUK) 1946.1.14.63– BMNH (NHMUK) 1946.1.14.64 and AMNH 19714–19716.
Holotype: MCZ 6444 [aequalis] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Both bicoloured (formerly aequalis) and tri- coloured forms of this species can be distinguished from S. michoacanensis based on complete banding on the tail and from S. aemula based on the absence of a file-like tail (Fig. 13) [COX et al. 2012].
CommentDistribution: Sonora mutabilis Stickel 1943 and S. aequalis Smith and Taylor 1945 are found mostly sympatrically in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental.

Ponce-Campos et al. (2004) resurrected the name S. aequalis for bicolour ground snakes formerly included under S. mutabilis.

According to current taxonomy, S. mutabilis is tricoloured and S. aequalis is bicoloured (Ponce- Campos et al., 2004), with both considered coralsnake mimics (Echternacht, 1973; Campbell & Lamar, 2004). S. aequalis is best considered a bicolour morph of S. mutabilis and not a valid species [COX et al. 2012].

Variation: Sonora mutabilis possesses bicoloured (red and black) and tricoloured (red, black and yellow) morphs (Echternacht, 1973). In tricolour morphs, the extent of black interspaces between bands may be quite variable, and bands may have red dorsal or lateral inclusions (e.g. Figs 4–6). Bands may be regular, irregular or absent ven- trally. Morphological measurements and meristic charac- ters are mostly overlapping between S. mutabilis and S. michoacanensis (Table 3). The hemipenis of S. michoacanensis was described by Stickel (1943). COX et al. 2012 describe the hemipenis of S. mutabilis and compare it with that of S. michoacanensis (Cope, 1895) [COX et al. 2012]. 
  • Carbajal-Márquez, Rubén A. and Gustavo E. Quintero-Díaz 2016. The Herpetofauna of Aguascalientes, México. Revista Mexicana de Herpetología 2(1):
  • Cox, Christian L.; Alison R. Davis Rabosky, Iris A. Holmes, Jacobo Reyes-Velasco, Corey E. Roelke, Eric N. Smith, Oscar Flores-Villela, Jimmy A. McGuire & Jonathan A. Campbell 2018. Synopsis and taxonomic revision of three genera in the snake tribe Sonorini. Journal of Natural History 52: 945-988 - get paper here
  • Cox, Christian L.; Alison R. Davis Rabosky, Jacobo Reyes-Velasco, Paulino Ponce-Campos, Eric N. Smith, Oscar Flores-Villela & Jonathan A. Campbell 2012. Molecular systematics of the genus Sonora (Squamata: Colubridae) in central and western Mexico. Systematics and Biodiversity 10: 93-108 - get paper here
  • Heimes, P. 2016. Snakes of Mexico. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 572 pp
  • Lemos-Espinal JA, Smith GR 2020. A checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Sinaloa, Mexico with a conservation status summary and comparisons with neighboring states. ZooKeys 931: 85-114 - get paper here
  • Liner, Ernest A. 2007. A CHECKLIST OF THE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF MEXICO. Louisiana State University Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural Science 80: 1-60 - get paper here
  • PONCE-CAMPOS, P., SMITH, H.M., HARRIS, H.S. & CHISZAR, D. 2004. A review of the taxonomic status of the members of the Sonora michoacanensis group (Serpentes: Colubridae). Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 40: 144–151 - get paper here
  • Stickel,W.H. 1943. The Mexican snakes of the genera Sonora and Chionactis with notes on the status of other colubrid genera. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 56: 109-128 - 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.
  • Woolrich-Piña, Guillermo A, Paulino Ponce-Campos, Jesús Loc-Barragán, Juan Pablo Ramírez-Silva, Vicente Mata-Silva, Jerry D. Johnson, Elí García-Padilla and Larry David Wilson. 2016. The herpetofauna of Nayarit, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation status. Mesoamerican Herpetology 3 (2): 376-448 - get paper here
  • Zweifel, Richard G. 1959. Additions to the herpetofauna of Nayarit, Mexico. American Museum Novitates (1953): 1-13 - get paper here
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