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Ahaetulla rufusoculara LAM, THU, NGUYEN, MURPHY & NGUYEN, 2021

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Ahaetuliinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Red-eyed vine snake
Vietnamese: Rắn roi mắt đỏ 
SynonymAhaetulla rufusoculara LAM, THU, NGUYEN, MURPHY & NGUYEN 2021 
DistributionVietnam (Soc Trang)

Type locality: My Phuoc Forest, My Tu District, Soc Trang Province, Vietnam (9.566709°N, 105.747722°E).  
TypesHolotype: ITBCZ 7504, adult male, collected by S.N. Nguyen and N.Q. Lam on 31 December 2019. Paratypes: ITBCZ 7502, ITBCZ 7503, ITBCZ 7505, ITBCZ 7506, ITBCZ 6799. 
Diagnosis Ahaetulla rufusoculara is distinguished from all of its congeners by a combination of the following morphological characters: bright red eyes; medium size in adult (largest TL 1085 mm in male); snout without dermal appendage, more than two times as long as the eye diameter in adult (SnL/ED 2.33–2.37); internasal separated from supralabial by loreal; body scale rows 15-15-13; tail long (TaL/TL ratio 0.34–0.35 in males and 0.31–0.32 in females); ventrals 186–190 in males and 182–185 in females; subcaudals 143–153 in males and 128 or 129 in females; 8 (rarely 9) supralabials, fourth and fifth or fourth to sixth entering orbit; 12–14 maxillary teeth; hemipenis short, reaching 6th or 7th SC; cloacal plate divided; dorsum bright green; and yellow or white stripe along lower flank (Lam et al. 2021).

Comparisons: Ahaetulla rufusoculara differs morphologically from all congeners as follows: from A. anomala Annandale, A. borealis Mallik, Srikanthan, Pal, D’Souza, Shanker & Ganesh, A. farnsworthi Mallik, Srikanthan, Pal, D’Souza, Shanker & Ganesh, A. isabellina (Wall), A. laudankia Deepak, Narayanan, Sarkar, Dutta & Mohapatra, A. malabarica Mallik, Srikanthan, Pal, D’Souza, Shanker & Ganesh, A. nasuta, A. oxyrhyncha (Bell), A. pulverulenta (Dumeril, Bibron & Dumeril), and A. sahyadrensis Mallik, Srikanthan, Pal, D’Souza, Shanker & Ganesh by the absence (vs. presence) of dermal appendage on snout (Deepak et al. 2019; Mallik et al. 2020); from A. dispar (Gunther) by having more ventrals (182–190 vs. 136–156) and more subcaudals (128–153 vs. 84–119) (Smith 1943); from A. fasciolata (Fischer) by having fewer ventrals (182–190 vs. 221–231), fewer subcaudals (128–153 vs. 185–194), and precloacal divided (vs. entire) (Boulenger 1896); from A. fronticincta (Gunther) by having nasals distinctly separated from each other (vs. nasals usually in contact with one another above the rostral), 3rd and 4th supralabials not horizontally divided (vs. horizontally divided), and 2 or 3 supralabials (vs. 1) entering eye (Boulenger 1896; Smith 1943); from A. mycterizans by having fewer ventrals in males (186–190 vs. 192–194), fewer subcaudals (143–153 vs. 167 or 168 in males, 128 or 129 vs. 132–156 in females), precloacal divided (vs. entire), and slightly longer hemipenes (extending to SC 6 or 7 vs. 5) (Linnaeus 1758; Smith 1943; Miralles & David 2010); from A. perroteti (Dumeril, Bibron & Dumeril) by having more ventrals (182–190 vs. 136–146), more subcaudals (143–153 vs. 65–75 in males and 128 or 129 vs. 71–168 in females), and presence (vs. absence) of 2 or 3 loreals (Smith 1943); from A. prasina by having fewer ventrals (182–190 vs. 194–235) and fewer subcaudals (143–153 vs. 165–187 in males and 128 or 129 vs. 151–172 in females) (Smith 1943); and from A. travancorica Mallik, Srikanthan, Pal, D’Souza, Shanker & Ganesh by having more ventrals (186–190 vs. 153 in males) and more subcaudals (143–153 vs. 130 in males) (Mallik et al. 2020) (Lam et al. 2021).

Color in life: Dorsal and lateral parts of body and tail purely green; upper part of head purely green, upper lips, rostral and posterior part of canthus yellow; lower part of head yellow posteriorly and white anteriorly, except for part of 1st left and 2nd right infralabials, which are yellow; iris red; about one-third of venter yellow, gradually changing to green on remaining two-thirds of venter; ventral side of tail green; pair of longitudinal yellow parallel lines on outer margin of ventrals, extending to anterior part of tail; interstitial skin black and white, forming oblique bars, black one being fewer in number and more or less forming oblique bands when skin expanded (Lam et al. 2021).

Sexual dimorphism. Males (n = 3) have longer relative tails than those of females (n = 3) (TaL/TL 0.34–0.35 in males; 0.31–0.32 in females) and more subcaudals (SC 134–153 in males, 128 or 129 in females) (Table 4). Keeled scales on sacral region present on males only. In life, males have venter yellow anteriorly and green posteriorly while venter of females is white with light green blotches posteriorly (Lam et al. 2021). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet rufusoculara refers to the red color of the eyes and is derived from the Latin adjective rufus (meaning “red”) and oculus (means “eye”). 
  • LAM, N. Q., THU, T. T. A., NGUYEN, L. T., MURPHY, R. W., & NGUYEN, S. N. 2021. A new species of Ahaetulla Link, 1807 (Squamata: Colubridae) from the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Zootaxa 4966(3): 290-304 - get paper here
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