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Boaedon mentalis (GÜNTHER, 1888)

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Brown House Snake, African House Snake
G: (Afrikanische) Hausschlange 
SynonymBoodon mentalis GÜNTHER 1888
Boodon mentalis — BOULENGER 1893: 335
Boaedon fuliginosus mentalis — LOVERIDGE 1957: 251
Boaedon fuliginosus mentalis — FITZSIMONS 1966
Lamprophis fuliginosus bedriagae — CHIPPAUX 1999: 55
Lamprophis fuliginosus mentalis — CHIPPAUX 1999: 55
Lamprophis ‘mentalis’ — VIDAL et al. 2008
Boaedeon mentalis — HÖROLD 2020: 8 (in error)
Boaedon mentalis — HÖROLD 2020: 14
Boaedon mentalis — HALLERMANN et al. 2020 
DistributionAngola (Namibe Province), N Namibia, Republic of South Africa (Northern Cape Province)

Type locality: “Damara Land” (in error fide Hallermann et al. 2020)  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.21.92 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Boaedon mentalis sensu stricto (northern clade; Figure 5A, Table 3) can be distinguished from most of its southern African congeners by its light brown ground colour, with two white stripes on the sides of head, three supralabials touching the eye, 202–214 ventral scales and frequently the second chin shields are completely separated from each other by the anterior chin shields. Within Angolan Boaedon species, B. mentalis sensu stricto differs from B. fuliginosus by having a shorter snout (i.e. the length of the parietal is longer than the distance between frontal and rostral versus parietal length equal to the distance between the frontal and rostral in B. fuliginosus), and its light brown dorsal colouration (versus blackish-brown in B. fuliginosus).
It differs from B. variegatus, which also has three supralabials touching the eye, by fewer ventral scales (202–214 versus 218–240 in B. variegatus) and its dorsum is light brown in colouration (versus darker brown with white (yellow in life) loops on the body in B. variegatus). It differs from B. angolensis, and B. fradei sp. nov., by having three supralabials touching the eye (versus two) and fewer ventral scales in females 204–214 versus 215–224 (B. angolensis) and 211–221 (B. fradei sp. nov.). It differs from B. bocagei sp. nov., by having fewer ventral scales in females 204–214 (versus 216–229 in B. bocagei sp. nov.). It differs from B. virgatus by having 25–27 MSR (versus 25 or fewer), 202–214 ventral scales (versus fewer than 200) and a uniform whitish venter (versus pigmented laterally). It can be distinguished from B. olivaceus by having a double row of subcaudals (versus a single row).
For other species occurring in the region, it can be distinguished from B. littoralis by a lower number of ventral scales in females (204–214 versus 223–234) and the presence of three supralabials (versus two) touching the eye; from B. subflavus by having 25–27 MSR (versus 29) and a light brown body colouration (versus yellowish in B. subflavus); from B. perisilvestris by having a light brown colouration with head stripes (versus uniform brown); from B. paralineatus by having fewer ventral scales in females (204–214 versus 239–250), 25–27 MSR (versus more than 31), longitudinal light stripes on head only (versus stripes on head and body in B. paralineatus); from B. longilineatus by lacking body stripes (versus a broad upper head and body stripe reaching at least the first quarter of the body); from B. upembae by having more ventral scales (202–214 versus 175–197); and finally, from B. radfordi by having a double row of subcaudals (versus a single row) (Hallermann et al. 2020). 
CommentSee also B. fuliginosus.

Synonymy: Wallach et al. (2014) considered B. mentalis as a synonym of B. capensis.

Distribution: for localities in Angola see map in Hallermann et al. 2020: 10 (Fig. 2). 
EtymologyNamed after the Latin adjective “fuliginosus” meaning brown or dark brown colouration. 
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Chippaux,J.P. 1999. Les serpents d’Afrique occidentale et centrale. Paris (IRD editions), 278 pp. [critical book review in Herp. Bull. 73: 30] - get paper here
  • Fitzsimons, V. 1966. A check-list, with syntopic keys, to the snakes of southern Africa. Annals Transvaal Museum 25 (3): 35-79 - get paper here
  • Günther,A. 1888. Contribution to the knowledge of snakes of tropical Africa. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (6) 1: 322-335 - get paper here
  • Hallermann, Jakob; Luis MP Ceríaco, Andreas Schmitz, Raffael Ernst , Werner Conradie, Luke Verburgt, Mariana P Marques & Aaron M Bauer 2020. A review of the Angolan House snakes, genus Boaedon Duméril, Bibron and Duméril (1854) (Serpentes: Lamprophiidae), with description of three new species in the Boaedon fuliginosus (Boie, 1827) species complex,. African Journal of Herpetology - get paper here
  • Hörold, Ralf 2020. Haltung und Nachzucht von Lepidodactylus lugubris (DUMERIL & BIBRON, 1836) als Aufzuchtfutter für Echsen fressende Schlangen. Ophidia 14 (1): 2-14
  • Loveridge, A. 1957. Check list of the reptiles and amphibians of east Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika, Zanzibar). Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 117 (2): 153-362 - get paper here
  • VIDAL, NICOLAS;WILLIAM R. BRANCH, OLIVIER S.G. PAUWELS,, S. BLAIR HEDGES, DONALD G. BROADLEY, MICHAEL WINK, CORINNE CRUAUD, ULRICH JOGER & ZOLTÁN TAMÁS NAGY 2008. Dissecting the major African snake radiation: a molecular phylogeny of the Lamprophiidae Fitzinger (Serpentes, Caenophidia). Zootaxa 1945: 51–66 - get paper here
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