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Ahaetulla dispar (GÜNTHER, 1864)

IUCN Red List - Ahaetulla dispar - Near Threatened, NT

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Ahaetuliinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Indian Bronzeback, Günther's Vine Snake 
SynonymTragops dispar GÜNTHER 1864: 303
Dryophis dispar — BOULENGER 1890: 368
Dryophis dispar — SMITH 1943: 373
Ahaetulla dispar — SAVAGE 1952
Ahaetulla dispar — DAS 1996: 53
Ahaetulla dispar — WALLACH et al. 2014: 19
Ahaetulla dispar — MALLIK et al. 2020: 40 
DistributionIndia (Western Ghats, Kerala, Tamil Nadu ?), elevation > 1400 m

Type locality: “Anamallay Mountains, British India” [= Anamalai Hills, S Western Ghats, E Kerala / W Tamil Nadu States, SW India, ca. 10°22’N, 77°08’E].  
TypesTypes: BMNH 1946.1.9.37-42 (and possibly additional specimens). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Ahaetulla dispar differs from Ahaetulla travancorica sp. nov. by possessing 0–1 loreals on each side of the head as compared to 2 loreals in Ahaetulla travancorica sp. nov., 9 infralabials in A. dispar (vs. 7–8 in Ahaetulla travancorica sp. nov.), no keels on the dorsal row of scales (vs. mild keels present) (Fig. 21, Mallik et al. 2020).

Colour in life. Dorsum dark green to olive green; rostral, infralabials, venter white to yellowish green at midbody; yellow ventral stripe; light yellow stripes along keels at centre, slight discolouration in the pre-ocular; interscalar skin white with black and white anteriorly-converging bars; eyes golden yellow with black speckles; concentration of black speckles both in anterior and posterior end of horizontal pupil bordered silver; tail, subcaudals light green (Mallik et al. 2020: 40).

Variations (also see Whitaker & Captain, 2004 [part]; Chandramouli & Ganesh, 2010 [part]). This species is reported to have the following variations: ventrals 139–159 notched with keels (136–156 in Smith (1943)); subcaudals (males) 110–113, divided, (females) 103–125, divided, (84–119 in Smith (1943)); dorsal scale rows in 15-15-13 rows of smooth, obliquely disposed scales; supralabials 8 with 5th or 6th being the largest; 4th or 5th supralabial in contact with the eye; sometimes both 4th and 5th supralabial in contact with the eye; 4th supralabial divided; loreal 1 (1–2 in Smith (1943)), loreals sometimes absent; infralabials 9; pre-suboculars 1–2; pre-ocular 1 (both left and right); postoculars 2; sub-oculars absent; temporals 1+2, 2+2 or 2+3 (Mallik et al. 2020: 40). 
CommentThe original description is available online (see references).

Venomous: Mildly venomous but usually harmless for humans.

Habitat: The snake is found predominantly in grasslands, exhibiting a terrestrial lifestyle, in contrast to other members of the genus (Mallik et al. 2020). 
EtymologyNamed after its disparate colouration, a sexually dichromatic species with green males and predominantly brown adult females (one of the earliest known dichromatic snakes, see Günther, 1864; Darwin 1871 contra Mohapatra et al. 2017). 
  • Bhupathy, Subramanian & N. Sathishkumar 2013. Status of reptiles in Meghamalai and its environs, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 5 (15): 4953-4961 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, George A. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor & Francis, London, xviii, 541 pp. - get paper here
  • Ganesh, S. R.; Subramanian Bhupathy, Patrick David, N. Sathishkumar, G. Srinivas 2014. Snake Fauna of High Wavy Mountains, Western Ghats, India: Species Richness, Status, and Distribution Pattern. Russ. J. Herpetol. 21 (1): 53-64
  • Ganesh, S.R.; S. Bhupathy, P. Karthik, G. Babu Rao & S. Babu 2020. Catalogue of herpetological specimens from peninsular India at the Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History (SACON), India. JoTT 12 (9): 16123–16135 - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1864. The Reptiles of British India. London (Taylor & Francis), xxvii + 452 pp. - get paper here
  • Palot, M.J. 2015. A checklist of reptiles of Kerala, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 7(13): 8010–8022 - get paper here
  • Savage, Jay M. 1952. Two centuries of confusion: the history of the snake name Ahaetulla. Bulletin of the Chicago Academy of Sciences 9 (11): 203-216
  • Sharma, R. C. 2004. Handbook Indian Snakes. AKHIL BOOKS, New Delhi, 292 pp.
  • Smith, M.A. 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-Region. Reptilia and Amphibia. 3 (Serpentes). Taylor and Francis, London. 583 pp.
  • Wall, F. 1906. A Popular Treatise on the Common Indian Snakes. Part II. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 17: 1-17 - 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.
  • Whitaker, Romulus and Ashok Captain 2004. Snakes of India. Draco Books, 500 pp., reprinted 2007 - get paper here
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