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Telescopus finkeldeyi HAACKE, 2013

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesDamara Tiger Snake 
SynonymTelescopus finkeldeyi HAACKE 2013
Telescopus beetzi — BUYS & BUYS 1983: 53
Telescopus sp. — GRIFFIN 2003: 20
Telescopus sp. — HERRMANN & BRANCH 2012: 8 
DistributionWC Namibia, SW Angola

Type locality: Rössing Uranium mine area, Swakomund district (2214Db) Namibia.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: TM 53542, adult female, don. J. A. van Rooyen, Dec.1979.
Paratypes. Six specimens, collection data same as holotype. TM 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A small tiger snake, smaller than the other taxa in southern Africa. Maximum recorded total length - females (SAM 44781), 594+77= 671mm, males (TM86107) 372+87= 459mm; anal undivided (divided in T. s. semiannulatus and T. s. polistictus); midbody scale rows (MSR) 19, (similar in T. s. semuannulatus and a T. s. polystictus) (rarely 20–21) (21 in T.beetzii). Colour pattern variable: Head brick red to orange, dorsum cream with variable pattern, usually 29 to 45 orangey, clayey to blackish blotches or transverse bars on the body, the nuchal band is usually the most distinct and darkest, while on most specimens the anterior blotches have a black centre which become less prominent posteriorly (Fig.1 + 3), although they may continue onto the tail, usually there is no indication of black on the tail and even the orange bars are poorly defined and the colour appears in mottled to speckled condition, the sides of the body and tail are marked by irregular orange bars or mottled fields of coloured scales; in contrast to T.beetzii there is usually no dark occipital spot on the crown of the head.
 
CommentTelescopus finkeldeyi is smaller than other Telescopus in southern Africa and is further distinguished by its fairly variable colour pattern. Although the number of ventrals and the undevided anal scale are similar to that of T. beetzii, the presence of 19 scale rows around the middle differs from the 21 rows of T. beetzii.

Habitat. Mainly found in arid savannah in Namibia. Northern records from the Kaokoveld and the south-western corner of Angola, occur in stony desert areas. 
EtymologyThis snake is named in honour of Mr. Helmut Finkeldey who, since he settled in Windhoek in 1950, was called the ‘Snake Man’ as he was always prepared to remove problem snakes and release them where they did not cause concerns. For many years he was the chairman of the Herpetological Section of the Namibian Scientific Society and also served as President of this society. By presenting radio talks, producing a DVD about Namibian snakes and giving public lectures he attempted to develop a better understanding of reptiles. During his 90th year he realised that younger people should take over these roles, but he still retains his interest in nature, with snakes his specialty. 
References
  • HAACKE, WULF D. 2013. Description of a new Tiger Snake (Colubridae, Telescopus) from south-western Africa. Zootaxa 3737 (3): 280–288 - get paper here
  • Herrmann, H.-W.; W.R. Branch 2013. Fifty years of herpetological research in the Namib Desert and Namibia with an updated and annotated species checklist. Journal of Arid Environments 93: 94–115 - get paper here
  • Marques, Mariana P.; Luis M. P. Ceríaco , David C. Blackburn , and Aaron M. Bauer 2018. Diversity and Distribution of the Amphibians and Terrestrial Reptiles of Angola -- Atlas of Historical and Bibliographic Records (1840–2017). Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (Ser. 4) 65: 1-501 (Supplement II)
  • Schleicher, Alfred 2015. Reptilien Namibias. Namibia Scientific  Society, 276 pp.
 
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