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Bitis rubida BRANCH, 1997

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Viperinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Red Adder 
SynonymBitis rubida BRANCH 1997
Bitis cornuta albanica HEWITT 1937: 76 (part.)
Bitis inornata FITZSIMONS 1946: 358
Bitis cornuta inornata — UNDERWOOD 1968: 84
Bitis cornuta albanica — FITZSIMONS 1962
Bitis cornuta cornuta — HAACKE 1975
Bitis caudalis VISSER 1979 (part)
Bitis cornuta inornata — BROADLEY 1983 (part)
Bitis cornuta-inornata complex — BURGER 1993
Bitis inornata complex — BRANCH & BAUER 1995
Bitis (Calechidna) rubida — LENK et al. 1999
Bitis rubida — BRANCH 1999: 53
Bitis rubida — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 365
Bitis rubida — DOBIEY & VOGEL 2007
Bitis (Calechidna) rubida — WITTENBERG et al. 2014
Bitis rubida — WALLACH et al. 2014: 94
Bitis (Calechidna) rubida — BARLOW et al. 2019 
DistributionSouth Africa (W Cape Province)

Type locality: Jeep track above Farm Driehoek, Cedarberg Mountains, Western Cape Province, South Africa (32°25’ 44’’ S, 19° 12’ 30’’ E)  
TypesHolotype: PEM R12582, adult male. Paratypes: (n=6) PEM R4457, adult male, near Crystal Pool, Cedarberg Mountains, Western Cape Province, South Africa (32°20’ 55’’ S, 19° 08’ 10’’ E), alt. 1340 m; 3219AC; April 1985; S. A. Botha. PEM R12583, adult male, Welbedacht, Cedarberg Mountains, Western Cape Province, South Africa (32°25’ 45’’ S, 19° 11’ 00’’ E), 3219AC; October 1988; J. van Deventer. PEM R12581, subadult male, on footpath from hut to Crystal Pool, Cedarberg Mountains, Western Cape Province, South Africa (32°20’ 55’’ S, 19° 06’ 49’’ E), alt. 1320 m; 3219AC; September 1986; S. A. Botha. PEM R5048 (CDNEC 10193), adult male, Cedarberg (village), 30 km from Algeria forestry station (approx. 32°31' S, 19° 16’ E), 3219CB; 17 May 1990, M. Burger (DOR). PEM 8861, adult female, 3 km N of Veepos, Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area, Western Cape Province, South Africa (32° 58’ 10’’ S, 19° 03’ 04’’ E); 3219CC; March 1994; J. van Deventer. SAM 46282, adult female, below Sneeuberg Hut ( =Sneeukop Hut), Cedarberg, Western Cape Province, South Africa (32° 20’ S, 19° 20’ E); 3219 AB; 15 October 1983. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: “Bitis rubida is characterized by lacking, or having greatly reduced, elongate scales (*horns') in the supraorbital region, and by having a drab, usually reddish, dorsal colouration. It can be distinguished from other small Bits by various scutellation features. It differs from B. xeropaga in having fewer ASR than MSR (ASR equal to or greater in number than MSR in B. xeropaga; Haacke 1975), and lower ventral scale counts in both sexes (B. xeropaga males 147-154, mean 151.5; females 151-155, mean 152.4; Haacke 1975). It differs from B. atropos in having a raised supraorbital ridge. It differs from sympatric and southern populations of Bitis cornuta in having lower ventral scale counts in both sexes, fewer circumorbitals, and usually 29 MSR. Bitis cornuta usually has 27 MSR and a slightly higher number of dorsal blotches. It also differs from B. rubida in always having prominent supraorbital a 'horns' and usually a contrasting colour pattern of grey, white and black (reddish in a population near Lang Hoogte, 35 km east Kleinsee). Bitis rubida does not occur in sympatry with B. atropoides, which is restricted to coastal regions of the south-western Cape. The latter has much lower ventral scale counts (115-128), slightly lower subcaudal counts and rictals, usually 27 MSR, and a higher number of circumorbitals. B. atropoides also usually has obvious supraorbital 'horns' (although these are less well developed than in B. cornuta), as well as a grey-black-white colouration (that is less well defined than that of B. cornuta). Bitis inornata and B. albanica are restricted to the Eastern Cape Province and are well isolated from the western taxa, including B. rubida. The two eastern species are distinguished by having short tails in males, in which the hemipenes reach only the 6-7th subcaudal (9-10 subcaudal in the other taxa). Supraocular 'horns' are greatly reduced or absent in B. albanica, which also has a bold, contrasting, grey-black-white colour pattern, with fewer dorsal blotches than in the western taxa. Bitis inornata completely lacks supraorbital 'horns', and has a very drab yellowish-brown coloration, in which the dorsal blotches are greatly reduced or absent. The eastern taxa are allopatric and separated from one another by 150 km.” (Branch 1997) 

Sympatry: Bitis cornuta and Bitis atropos on the upper slopes and summit of the Cedarberg, and with the latter on the Swartberg. The species was previously discussed and illustrated (as the Cedarberg population of Bitis inornatus) by Spawls and Branch (1995). 
EtymologyFrom the Latin for reddish. alluding to the general colouration of specirnens, particularly from the Cedarberg region. 
  • Barlow A, Wüster W, Kelly CMR, Branch WR, Phelps T, Tolley KA. 2019. Ancient habitat shifts and organismal diversification are decoupled in the African viper genus Bitis (Serpentes: Viperidae). J Biogeogr. 46: 1234– 1248 - get paper here
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • Branch, W. R. & BAUER, A. M. 1995. The Herpetofauna of the Little Karoo, Western Cape, South Africa, with notes on life history and taxonomy. Herpetological Natural History 3 (1): 47-89
  • Branch, W.R. 1999. Dwarf adders of the Bitis cornuta-inornata complex (Serptentes: Viperidae) in Southern Africa. Kaupia (Darmstadt) (8): 39-63
  • Branch,W.R. 1997. A new adder (Bitis; Viperidae) from the Western Cape Province, South Africa. South African J Zoology 32 (2): 37 - get paper here
  • Burger, M. 1993. The herpetofauna of Anysberg Nature Reserve, Cape Province, South Africa. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa 42: 1-12 - get paper here
  • CONRADIE, WERNER; WILLIAM R. BRANCH, & GILLIAN WATSON 2019. Type specimens in the Port Elizabeth Museum, South Africa, including the historically important Albany Museum collection. Part 2: Reptiles (Squamata). Zootaxa 4576 (1): 001–045 - get paper here
  • Dobiey, M. & Vogel, G. 2007. Venomous Snakes of Africa - Giftschlangen Afrikas. Edition Chimaira, Terralog 15, 150 pp. - get paper here
  • FitzSimons, V. 1946. An account of the reptiles and amphibians collected on an expedition to the Cape Province, October to December, 1940. Annals Transvaal Mus. 20: 351-377 - get paper here
  • FitzSimons, V. 1962. Snakes of Southern Africa. Purnell (Cape town & Johannesburg), 423 pp.
  • Haacke, W.D. 1975. Description of a new adder (Viperidae, Reptilia) from Southern Africa, with a discussion of related forms. Cimbebasia (A) 4: 115-128
  • Hewitt, J. 1937. A guide to the vertebrate fauna of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, Part II: reptile, amphibians, and freshwater fishes. Grahamstown, vii + 141 pp.
  • KLOSE, L. 2013. Bitis rubida (Branch, 1997) Reproduction. African Herp News (59): 29-32 - get paper here
  • Lenk,P.; Herrmann,H. W.; Joger,U. & Wink,M. 1999. Phylogeny and taxonomic subdivision of Bitis (Reptilia: Viperidae) based on molecular evidence. Kaupia (Darmstadt) (8): 31-38 - get paper here
  • Mallow, D. Ludwig, D. & Nilson, G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Krieger, Malabar, Florida, 410 pp. [review in HR 35: 200, Reptilia 35: 74]
  • Martínez del Mármol, G. 2020. The phenotypic variability of the Genus Bitis Gray 1842, with remarks in its resemblance to other vipers. In: Martínez, G., León, R., Jiménez-Robles, O., González De la Vega, J. P., Gabari, V., Rebollo, B., Sánchez-Tójar, A., Fernández-Cardenete, J. R., Gállego, J. (Eds.). Amphibians and Reptiles of Morocco and Western Sahara - get paper here
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Phelps, T. 2010. Old World Vipers. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 558 pp. [critical review in Sauria 33 (3): 19 and HR 43: 503]
  • Spawls, S., Branch, B. 1995. The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Blandford, London, 192 pp.
  • Underwood G. 1968. On the status of some South Africna vipers. Ann. Cape Prov, Mus. 6 (9): 81-85
  • Visser J 1979. New and reconfirmed records for the Cape Province with notes on some “rare” species (Sauria, Serpentes, and Anura). J. Herp. Assoc. Africa 21: 40-50 - 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.
  • Wittenberg, Rod D. & Robert C. Jadin & Allyson M. Fenwick & Ronald L. Gutberlet Jr. 2014. Recovering the evolutionary history of Africa’s most diverse viper genus: morphological and molecular phylogeny of Bitis (Reptilia: Squamata: Viperidae). Org Divers Evol, DOI 10.1007/s13127-014-0185-3
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