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Vermicella annulata (GRAY, 1841)

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Eastern Bandy-bandy, Bandy Bandy
G: Bandy-Bandy 
SynonymCalamaria annulata GRAY 1841: 443
Elaps occipitalis DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 1220
Vermicella lunulata KREFFT 1869: 79
Furina occipitalis BOULENGER 1896
Rhynchelaps latizonatus DE VIS 1905: 49
Vermicella annulata — SIMPSON 1973
Vermicella annulata — COGGER 1983: 239
Vermicella annulata — COGGER 2000: 696
Vermicella annulata — MATTISON 2007: 262
Vermicella annulata — WALLACH et al. 2014: 785 
DistributionAustralia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria)

Type locality: Australia  
TypesSyntype: BMNH 1946.1.19.21, Swan River [in error], collector unknown, identified as holotype by Cogger et al. (1983). Description also based on an illustration by White (1790).
Holotype: MNHP 3936, from Rio de Janeiro (errore) and Australia [Elaps occipitalis].
Holotype: AM 6684, from upper Burdekin River district, Qld. [Vermicella lunulata].
Holotype: QM J192, from Qld., Herberton, vide Covacevich (1971) [Rhynchelaps latizonatus]. 
DiagnosisDefinition (genus): Vermicella is a group of five Australian elapid snake species characterized by a pattern of alternating black and white bands, an elongate cylindrical body, 15 dorsal scalerows, divided anal plate and subcaudal scales,rounded rostral scale,small eyes,neck not distinct from head. and a short blunt tail. There are six supralabial scales,third and fourth entering orbit; six infralabials; two postoculars; single anterior temporal; single posterior temporal; preocular contacts nasal; nostril located medially in an undivided nasal scale; internasal scales free (V. intermedia and V. multifasciata) or fused to prefrontals (V. annulata, V. snelli, and V. vermiformls).Dorsal scale rows at one head length posterior to the head (neck), midbody. and one head length anterior to the vent almost invariably number 15.The entire dorsal surface displays an alternating black and white banded pattern while the ventral surface may display the same pattern (with the bands simply encircling the body), or a black and white mottled pattern.
Ventral scales number from 195 (V. annulata) to 315 (V. snelli); subcaudal scalesfrom 10 (V. annulata) to 29 (V. vermiforrus);total number of black and white body and tail bandsfrom 48 (V. annulata) to 188 (V. multifasciata); and tail length from 3.47oh SVL (female V. snelli) to 9.68% SVL (male V. annulata) (from Keogh & Smith 1996).

McDowell (1970)provides a thorough description of external and internal morphological features of V. annulata and considers its relationship to other genera (from Keogh & Smith 1996).

Diagnosis (genus): Vermicella can be distinguished from all other Australian snakes by the distinctive pattern of black and white alternating bands. Simoselaps anomalus, S. bertholdi, and S. littoralis have an alternating pattern of black and a non-white colour such as creamy-yellow or reddish-brown and a more pointed as opposed to a more rounded rostrum (Cogger, 1992, cited in Keogh & Smith 1996).

Diagnosis: Vermicella annulata has fewer ventral scales than V. multifasciata, V.snelli, and V. vermiformis and has fewer body bands than V . multifasciata (Fig. 4). Vermicella annulata tends to be slightly wider-bodied than the other species. Vermicella annulata can be further differentiated from V . intermedia and V . multifasciata by the condition of the internasal scales (present in V . annulara),and band width (black and white bands on both the dorsal and ventral surfaces are at least one or two scales wider in V . annulata than in V . intermedia and V . multifasciata). See Figs 4-6 for interspecific comparisons in these characters (from Keogh & Smith 1996). 
CommentSynonymy after COGGER 1983.


Type species: Calamaria annulata GRAY 1841: 443 is the type species of the genus Vermicella GRAY in GÜNTHER 1858.

Behavior: Vermicella are generally burrowing, nocturnal hunters.

Diet: blind snakes of the genus Anilios 
EtymologyNamed after the diminutive form (“annul-”) of Latin “anus” = ring. 
  • Bustard, H.R. 1969. Defensive Display Behavior in the Bandy-Bandy, Vermicella annulata (Serpentes: Elapidae) Herpetologica 25 (4): 319-320. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • Couper P J; Covacevich J. A. 1996. A Bandy Bandy with a difference. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 39 (2): 242
  • Covacevich, J. 1971. Amphibian and reptile type specimens in the Queensland Museum. [type catalogue] Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 16: 49-68
  • de Vis, Charles Walter de 1905. A new genus of lizard. On Typhlops torresianus. Ann. Queensland Museum (Brisbane) 6: 48 - get paper here
  • de Vis, Charles Walter de 1905. A new genus of lizard. Ann. Queensland Museum (Brisbane) 6: 46-52
  • DEREZ, CHANTELLE M.; KEVIN ARBUCKLE, ZHIQIANG RUAN, BING XIE, YU HUANG, LAUREN DIBBEN, QIONG SHI, FREEK J. VONK, BRYAN G. FRY 2018. A new species of bandy-bandy (Vermicella: Serpentes: Elapidae) from the Weipa region, Cape York, Australia. Zootaxa 4446 (1): 001–012 [erratum in Zootaxa 4461(4): 600] - get paper here
  • Duméril, A. M. C., Bibron, G. & DUMÉRIL, A. H. A., 1854. Erpétologie générale ou histoire naturelle complète des reptiles. Tome septième. Deuxième partie, comprenant l'histoire des serpents venimeux. Paris, Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret: i-xii + 781-1536 - get paper here
  • Gower, D.; Garrett, K. & Stafford, P. 2012. Snakes. Firefly Books, Buffalo, NY,<br />144 p..
  • Gray, J.E. 1841. A catalogue of the species of reptiles and Amphibia hitherto described as inhabiting Australia, with a description of some new species from Western Australia. Appendix E, pp. 422-449. In: G. Grey, Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in Northwest T. and W. Boone, London. Vol. 2: 422-449 + plates - get paper here
  • Greenlees, M.J., J.K. Webb & R. Shine 2005. Led by the blind: Bandy-Bandy Snakes Vermicella annulata (Elapidae) follow Blindsnake chemical trails Copeia 2005 (1): 184-187. - get paper here
  • Hutchinson M N 1990. The generic classification of the Australian terrestrial elapid snakes. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 29 (3): 397-405
  • Kay, G.M.; D. Michael; M. Crane; S. Okada; C. MacGregor; D. Florance; D. Trengove; L. McBurney; D. Blair; D.B. Lindenmayer. 2013. A list of reptiles and amphibians from Box Gum Grassy Woodlands in south-eastern Australia. Check List 9 (3):476-481 - get paper here
  • Keogh, J.S.; Smith, S.A. 1996. Taxonomy and natural history of the Australian bandy-bandy snakes (Elapidae: Vermicella) with a description of two new species. Journal of Zoology 240: 677-701 - get paper here
  • Krefft, G. 1869. The Snakes of Australia; an Illustrated and Descriptive Catalogue of All the Known Species. Sydney, Govt. Printer xxv + 100 pp. - get paper here
  • Longman, H. A. 1916. Snakes and lizards from Queensland and the Northern Territory. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 5: 46-51
  • Mattison, Chris 2007. The New Encyclopedia of Snakes. Princeton University Press
  • McDowell, Samuel B. 1969. Toxicocalamus, a New Guinea genus of snakes of the family Elapidae. Journal of Zoology, London 159: 443-511 - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Shine, R. 1980. Reproduction, Feeding and Growth in the Australian Burrowing Snake Vermicella annulata Journal of Herpetology 14 (1): 71-77. - get paper here
  • Simpson, KNG 1973. AMPHIBIANS, REPTILES AND MAMMALS OF THE MURRAY RIVER region between Mildura and Renmark, Australia. Mem. Nat. Mus. Vict. 34: 275-279 - get paper here
  • Swan, G.; Sadlier, R.; Shea, G. 2017. A field guide to reptiles of New South Wales. Reed New Holland, 328 pp.
  • 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.
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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